LIKE LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
As has been reported frequently this week, the Dawgs have won the last three against LSU by an average margin of 21 points. Well kids, that ain't going to happen this Saturday. Actually, no one knows what will happen. No one! But, I think we are in for yet another cliffhanger with our cardiac kids.
The Dawgs will have intermittent success running the ball and intermittent success throwing the ball. LSU will have intermittent success running the ball and intermittent success throwing the ball. The key will be frequency with which we put both together at the same time and how frequently we can prevent them from having success running and passing on the same possession. What I am saying is that I don't thing a one-dimensional attack will be good enough for either of these offenses to score on either of these defenses. It is going to require a sound mix of running and passing to keep the opposing defense off balance. We have yet have a game in which we did both well. LSU has yet to have a game in which they did both well. I get the sense that both teams are having strikingly similar offensive issues except for one thing... turnovers. We are -9 and they are +7. If this trend holds, we lose. Plain and simple. But, this is a positive thinking blog and I am hoping this is the week we stop being so generous and actually score a few take-aways of our own.
For the Dawgs to move the ball successfully and consistently, we will need better blocking up and from our FB on running plays. Our receivers have been blocking lights-out... let's hope the big boys follow suit this week. In the passing game, if Joe Cox has time, he will find open receivers and I am certain he will have to spread it around as AJ will attract an inordinate amount of attention from their best cover man, Patrick Peterson and maybe a little help from all-world Chad Jones. Again, the key is to give Cox time. If he has to hurry his throws, we will have problems because I do not think the separation between our receivers and their defenders will be as dramatic as we have seen in our previous games.
One thing I want to point out and stress is that their defense (like ours) is comprised of fast aggressive players which always raises the possibility for over-pursuit issues. Last year, a lot of Moreno's running success came from his patience and making timely cutbacks leaving the over-pursuing defenders in poor position to make the play. Our defense suffers the same problems at times. I hope that we can exploit their speed and aggressiveness with misdirection, reverses, counters, etc. Caleb King may be able to make some hay here with vision and a timely cut or two.
This goes without saying, but I am saying it anyway... we must protect the football. Turnovers, you can go away now! We need to convert all of our scoring opportunities. When we lost to LSU in Baton Rouge in 2003, we failed to turn many first half opportunities into points and we lost a close one. Blair Walsh is kicking great and we will need him Saturday, but I am hoping our red zone success in getting touchdowns continues because we will need the points!
Our defense can keep us in this game even if our offense struggles but it will start and end with the front four. Our tackles need to make themselves a home in the LSU backfield and then Houston and C. Washington and Dobbs can clean up from the end position. These front four guys need to be disruptive and not allow LSU to get in a rhythm. They also need to keep offensive linemen off of our LBs so Curran, Gamble and crew can make plays at the line of scrimmage. If had to declare one player the keystone for our entire defensive scheme, it is Justin Houston. If he has another big game, our entire defense will look good.
Special teams... last week we covered well on kick returns and this week we get our biggest challenge yet in trying to hem up sprinter Trindon Holliday. I am sure we will see some shots at the end zone and some directional kicks. The key will be in covering fast and not missing tackles. I don't expect anything extraordinary from our kick and punt return teams, I just pray that we hold onto the ball. If Walsh and Butler continue their fine work, they could be the difference in this game.
Ok... gotta hit the road in a few minutes for the 315 mile drive up from Amelia. Will be at Hotel Indigo tonight. If you are there, look me up and I'll buy you a beer.
Dawgs 31 - LSU 27.