Four Burning Questions for LSU vs UAB: The Return to Death Valley
"It's Saturday Night in Death Valley!"
LSU heads into week two of the college football season with one of the most impressive victories thus far in college football. TCU is picked by some to win the Big 12, and the Horned Frogs' performance on Saturday showed their might in the trenches.
The Tigers will lick their wounds in time to play UAB. The Blazers led by 14 in the fourth quarter versus Troy last week, but eventually lost on a last-second field goal by the Trojans. UAB went 2-of-13 on 3rd down and committed 13 penalties for 96 yards.
UAB has a talented team. Their offense is powerful and they are predicted to finish high in Conference USA
But no matter what the Blazers do, they stand no chance to beat the Tigers in Baton Rouge.
LSU has a history of playing lethargic football versus lesser opponents. Games against inferior opponents can be boring. Former LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery admitted he took plays off in matchups such as these.
But the battle for superior teams in cupcake games is often not their opponents, but themselves. Players improve against fresh opposition at game speed. Coaches must encourage their players to mend mistakes they made the week before.
A perfect example was when the Towson Tigers came into Baton Rouge last season.
It was a damp day and a pathetic crowd. LSU defeated their Tiger counterpart, but committed 10 penalties and three turnovers in the process. Towson brought the lumber in the trenches, as LSU took a physical beating on some plays between the tackles.
LSU won the game, but their was no question which team of Tigers were fiercer.
The next week, LSU went Gainesville to play Florida. The Tigers lost 14-6, and looked even sloppier. There clearly looked to be a hangover from the week before.
LSU must look to improve from their mistakes versus TCU against UAB. They cannot afford another Towson-esque setback this season.
Can the LSU Secondary Continue Their Dominant Play?
Defensive Back University lived up to their billing last Saturday.
The LSU defense, also known as "DBU" for its impressive string of defensive backs, dominated the highly touted TCU receivers.
Jalen Mills was LSU's best defensive player. Mills led the team in solo tackles and raked in one interception. He and fellow corner Jalen Collins smothered the receivers on the outside, as TCU did not even bother to challenge them deep.
Craig Loston and Ronald Martin held down the safety positions as sure tacklers in the open field. Micah Eugene and Dwayne Thomas were active as the Nickel and Dime backs.
UAB boasts an impressive passing attack. Like LSU, they had two receivers go over 100 yards receiving in their first game.
Jamarcus Nelson and Jamari Staples form a formidable 1-2 duo (their jersey numbers are literally No. 1 & 2 respectfully). Nelson is smaller and shifty, while Staples, at 6-4, gives defenses headaches in the red zone.
But the LSU defensive backs will play fearless like they did versus TCU. Defensive coordinator John Chavis allowed his corners to play aggressive, press-man coverage. They did so spectacularly, and will continue to do so versus the Blazers.
Will LSU Continue Rushing the Quarterback at a High Level?
One of the most overrated stats in football is the sack.
Sacks are impressive, but quarterback hurries and pocket pressure should also be monitored.
LSU only registered one sack versus TCU, but overall did a great job getting into the backfield and creating pressure. Ego Ferguson, Jordan Allen and Danielle Hunter are three defensive lineman that stood out on tape.
Despite having great talent, Chavis has seen his defensive unit struggle to get pressure from a traditional four-man rush during his tenure at LSU. He does have exotic blitz packages, but his defense becomes more unpredictable and diverse if he does not have to use them.
Any quarterback that has time to deliver the football can pick apart any defense. UAB's Austin Brown threw for 339 yards versus Troy. He was only sacked once and had ample amount of time to read the defense.
There should be no reason for LSU to allow the same thing to happen this Saturday behind a rabid crowd.
Look for Allen, Ferguson and Anthony "Freak" Johnson to get their first sacks of the year against the Blazers.
Will Jeremy Hill Play?
The Tigers were without Jeremy Hill's services versus TCU.
Hill dressed out, but was not given a carry. When will Miles play him?
LSU should be able to run the football at will versus the Blazers, no matter who is getting the football. UAB allowed 179 yards rushing versus Troy last week.
Terrence Magee took a huge step forward against TCU, while Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue took a step back.
Magee rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Blue rushed for 95 yards as well, but coughed up a costly fumble. Hilliard did not even rush for 10 yards.
The TCU defensive line won the battle at the line of scrimmage versus LSU. The offensive line should be amped to redeem themselves against UAB. Miles will want to get back to old school, ground-and-pound football in front of his home crowd.
Center Elliot Porter struggled the most, as he was blown into the backfield on multiple occasions. Look for freshman Ethan Pocic to get some snaps.
Can LSU Fix Errors on Special Teams?
Kicker was a position of concern this offseason as LSU looked to replace Drew Alleman.
Colby Delahoussaye was perfect on field goals in his debut for the Tigers, but all kicks were within 30 yards. Can he continue his success under the bright lights of Tigers Stadium.
LSU's kickoff team has been dominant under the Miles tenure. They started the game off with a bang when they forced TCU's Brandon Carter to fumble deep in their own territory. Yet the Tigers gave up a touchdown to TCU's B.J. Catalon later in the half. Freshman Tre'Davious White overran his lane and the rest of the unit was slow to recover.
UAB's Jamarcus Nelson recorded 367 all-purpose yards last week, which set a Blazer record. Nelson returned a kick 97 yards for a touchdown in that game.
LSU kickoff returner Odell Beckham Jr. was not to shabby himself last week. He took a kick to the TCU 25 yard line. The Tigers would score a few plays later on a Jarvis Landry touchdown.
But earlier in the game, Beckham Jr. allowed a punt to bounce near the LSU 15 yard line. The ball rolled all the way down to the 1. The Tigers would then fumble a few plays later.
LSU Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey will have more than enough reevaluations to make on Saturday. But expect the Tigers to have everything fixed by then.
Final Score Prediction: LSU's Air Raid Continues Against UAB
The LSU Tigers are flying high, yet under the radar in 2013.
And Miles probably loves it that way.
The TCU victory did catch the eye of the nation. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was LSU's brightest star versus the Horned Frogs. Teams will need to be prepared for the run and pass when they play the Tigers.
Mettenberger will try to get others involved in the offense. Only two other receivers outside of Landry and Beckham Jr. caught a pass. LSU needs to find some answers at tight end as well.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron calls another great game against a porous Troy defense. The Tigers win big in their first home game of the season.
LSU 48 - UAB 17
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