By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
LSU will apparently host South Carolina on Saturday in Tiger Stadium without their
starting quarterback. Myles Brennan is still recovering from a torn muscle in his abdomen that occurred early in the contest against Missouri two weeks ago and will not play. Sources today tells us that T.J. Finley will start, but expect Max Johnson to play as well.
The Tigers (1-2) have had two weeks to prepare for a tough and talented (2-2) South Carolina squad that is riding high on the momentum of a two game winning streak.
The South Carolina defense, has give up a lot of yards so far and has struggled against explosive offenses that they have faced. But they are causing turnovers. They currently rank 5th in the SEC in turnover margin. Through their first four games they have intercepted five passes and recovered two fumbles. Expecting to face a true freshman quarterback, look for the Gamecocks' defense to load the box to try and shut down LSU's running game forcing obvious passing situations. Then bring the pressure.
Coach Orgeron has mentioned that they have simplified things on defense. What that means we will need to wait to witness. The LSU defense is a wounded unit, giving up an average of 494.7 yards and 32 points per game.
Another blow for the Tigers other then not having their top signal caller on offense, is their leader on defense may miss his second game of the season. Derek Stingley Jr. is listed as doubtful for the contest as he is still nursing a sprained ankle he suffered against Missouri. LSU can not allow South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill to have a field day against its secondary.
Bo Pelini will need to have a game plan that will help his struggling and demoralized unit bounce back big and compete at a high level. They will need to play with excitement and emotion to put constant heat on Hill and force turnovers, as LSU does lead the conference in turnover margin.
WHAT LSU WILL NEED TO DO TO WIN THE GAME......
NO TURNOVERS... The Tigers can not afford to turn the ball over against the Gamecocks. PERIOD! They must win the turnover battle...
The LSU offensive line will need to be at the top of their game, opening up running lanes and pass protecting against a physical Will Muschamp defensive that likes to blitz and stunt a lot. They must protect T.J. Finley and Max Johnson. These young quarterbacks need time to see the field and make smart decisions with the football. Take what the defense gives you.
LSU's three headed monster at running back, (Curry, Emery, and Davis-Price), must help keep the offense out of long yardage situations, control the clock, and allow the defense to stay rested by spearheading the rushing attack. LSU must run the football effectively to have any chance of winning this football game.
Arik Gilbert and Terrace Marshall Jr. must both have a monster game. The Gamecocks have a stingy secondary and will need to make tough catches and big plays to help sustain drives.
The LSU defense can't put the pressure of a shootout on the shoulders of the offense without their starting quarterback. To give themselves an opportunity to win this game, they will need to limit the Gamecocks' offensive production and create turnovers in South Carolina territory to give the offense short scoring drive opportunities.
Someone needs to make a big play in the return game to give the offense great starting field position. This would be a huge key to a LSU victory if somehow the Tigers can make big plays on special teams. Block a punt or field goal. Kickoff coverage must not allow the big return.
LSU is 11-0 in games following a loss under head coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers haven't lost back-to-back games since dropping three straight in November of 2015.
A well rested LSU football team with an extra week to prepare will somehow find a way to win in a close one. Believe it or not, but I see the defense making a big play late to secure the victory.
LSU - 31, South Carolina - 27