This week in preparation for the LSU Matchup I spoke with Death Valley Voice Editor Patrick Schmidt. This will be an ongoing series we like to call “Behind Enemy Lines”. You can also follow DVV on twitter @DeathValleyFS and on Facebook.
GEG: In recent years the Tigers have defensive stars such as Eric Reid, Tyrann Mathieu, Mo Claiborne and Barkevious Mingo. Who is that guy this season?
PS: There really hasn’t been a defensive star this season. The LSU defense doesn’t have that shutdown corner that the yhae had in recent years and they haven’t had a dominant pass rusher. Those guys are playing on Sundays now. The team does have talent in tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson who could be high NFL picks, but they haven’t been consistently dominant this year. Lamin Barrow is a nice talent at LB, but they miss Kevin Minter from last year. Craig Loston entered this season with big expectations, but injuries have robbed him of some of his effectiveness, but he’s still been solid.
GEG: Zach Mettenberger play has been better than last season, against the Tide he seem to regress. Was that more to defensive scheming or did Mett just struggle in that game?
PS: I’d disagree that he struggled vs. Alabama, he completed 16/23 passes for 240 yards and a TD. He had a better QBR than AJ McCarron, but he was hurt by the lack of a running game in the second half and two fluky fumbles (one by him when the center snapped the ball when he was trying to audible) take those away and it’s a different game. Alabama’s got the best defense in the country, but it was their running game that kept the ball away from LSU in the 2nd half and forced LSU to throw it and when you become one-dimensional against that team you’re going to lose.
PS: Both Odell Beckham, Jr and Jarvis Landry have been outstanding for LSU this season. Beckham is a semifinalist for the Biletnikiff and has 5, 100-yard games this year. Landry has had 4, but he has only reached the end zone once in the past 5 games. I think both have 100-yard games and are good candidates to reach the end zone this week.
PS: He can be Johnny Manziel. He’s the best player in college football and Les Miles said as much as his press conference on Monday. If he comes out and puts up 2 touchdown drives on their first possessions and take a 14-0 lead early, that certainly would go a long way toward quieting the crowd. LSU is the only team in his college career to keep him out of the end zone in his 23-game college career, so LSU has the blue print to contain him, but the big question is if they have the personnel to execute that plan.
GEG: What is the best case scenario for a top bowl game for LSU?
PS: If LSU can win out it looks like they’ll be in line for a potential berth in the AT&T Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. If they split a more likely outcome is the Outback Bowl against Nebraska perhaps.
GEG: What is your prediction for Saturday’s game?
PS: I’m buying into the home field advantage and the “desperation” mode that LSU will playing with. They absolutely can not afford a 4th loss and they have had success in the one past meeting against Manziel and A&M when they forced him into 3 INT’s and 2 lost fumbles. Will they be able to force 5 turnovers this year? Probably not, but Manziel has thrown too many interceptions this season, so they have to win the turnover battle and score touchdowns on any potential A&M miscues. I think this game turns into a shootout because both offenses are capable of dominating the other team’s defense. This game reminds me of when Auburn and A&M played a few weeks ago and the team with the ball at the end wins. I think Jeremy Hill will be the player of the game with 125-150 yards and 2 td’s. LSU wins 42-38.