LSU Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Washington
Les Miles' LSU team started off the 2012 season with a bang, but now a much larger road block stands in the Tigers' way as the Washington Huskies come to Baton Rouge for a Saturday night college football showdown.
This has all the makings of a good game and is arguably the top game in the country this weekend.
The Tigers used a dominant rushing attack to open up last week's contest against North Texas, but will LSU be able to do much of the same against an improved Washington team?
Will the LSU defense be able to contain Keith Price and that high-scoring Huskies offense?
Let's go ahead and break down five keys to LSU's game vs. Washington.
Bleacher Report Style!
1. Control the Line of Scrimmage
LSU dominated the line of scrimmage in the opening week of the season, and in order to come away with another victory in Week 2, the Tigers will have to do much of the same.
Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue were exceptional last week, running through holes created by that big offensive line.
Those two should be called on to carry the load again in Week 2. If they can repeat another 260-plus yard performance in this game, then the Tigers should be well on their way to another win.
Washington is certainly a step up from North Texas from a competition standpoint, but LSU should be able to control the line of scrimmage in this game.
2. Get Playmakers the Ball
LSU jumped out to an early 21-0 lead in Saturday's game against North Texas and controlled the clock from there on out.
But this week, it would be nice to see the Tigers get their playmakers more involved in the game.
Sophomore wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the top playmakers in the country, but he wasn't much of a factor on offense, hauling in just three catches for 30 yards.
Beckham's partner in crime, Russell Shepard, was used even less, making just one catch for 11 yards on Saturday.
Those guys are two of the elite athletes in the country, and if LSU is going to win on Saturday, you would like to see the Tigers get the ball in Beckham's and Shepard's hands.
3. Contain Keith Price
This LSU defense is one of the strongest defensive units in the country, but they will have their hands full on Saturday with Washington dual-threat quarterback Keith Price.
Just how good is Price?
Well, if you call 438 yards and four touchdowns through the air, in addition to 39 yards rushing and three more touchdowns on the ground in last year's epic 67-56 shootout against Baylor good, then yeah, this kid is beyond impressive.
Price is molding into a star for this Washington team, and while LSU's defense saw the likes of Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and Tyler Wilson last season, Price is more athletic and electric than all of those guys out on the football field.
LSU has a lot of inexperience in its defensive backfield, which Price could take advantage of. But the defensive end combination of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo will make sure that Price dosen't have too much time to make plays.
This will be the key matchup to keep an eye on in this one.
4. Trust Zach Mettenberger
Washington will likely do everything in its power to slow down LSU's rushing attack and make first-year starter Zach Mettenberger beat them with his arm.
The question remains: Will Mettenberger be able to do that?
Les Miles and the LSU coaching staff have raved about Mettenberger's arm and poise from the quarterback position. This is the first true test for him and we will likely get to see what this kid can do against a good Washington football team.
In order to be successful, LSU has to trust Mettenberger and let him make some throws when the Huskies line up eight guys in the box.
If Mettenberger can answer the call, then LSU should role in this one.
5. Step Up in the Defensive Backfield
No more Tyrann Mathieu.
No more Morris Claiborne.
The list goes on and on as LSU's secondary is in rebuilding mode, but with Eric Reid and Tharold Simon leading the way, this defensive backfield is still loaded with talent, regardless of experience.
In this new secondary's first game, they gave up 143 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
To put it lightly, Washington's Keith Price is much better than North Texas QB Derek Thompson.
LSU's defensive backfield will be tested in this game and it is up to this unit to step up and make some plays.
If the secondary can contain Price and these Washington wide receivers, the Tigers should be just fine on defense with an experienced and talented front seven in place.
The goal should be to hold Price under 200 yards passing. That would be a great start for this LSU Tigers team.