LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Complete Game Preview
"Johnny Football vs. John Chavis Part II" will be quite a sight on Saturday in Tiger Stadium .
Johnny Manziel is the best player in the SEC. He is a magician that has yet to be slowed down this season.
Manziel's biggest foe last season was LSU. He started fast, but when Chavis switched exclusively to his "Mustang" package, the Heisman Trophy winner struggled mightily in defeat.
Texas A&M's defense has been worse than LSU's, which is not a good title to have. LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron should be licking his chops.
Both Texas A&M and LSU are out of the BCS National Championship race, but both teams should be motivated to face each other after the close battle last season in College Station.
Here is everything you need to know:
Time: 2:30 p.m. CST
Place: Tiger Stadium; Baton Rouge, La.
Spread: LSU by 4.5 via Scores and Odds
LSU Keys to Victory
Make More Explosive Plays
Johnny Manziel's favorite target is Biletnikoff semifinalist Mike Evans. When the two are in rhythm, there is not a better quarterback-receiver combo in college football.
Manziel is excellent at connecting on the deep ball, especially when he extends plays with his legs.
Evans and the rest of the talented receivers are superb at finding open space behind defenders when a play breaks down.
The LSU secondary must stay disciplined and keep everything in front of them. If not, Manziel will have a field day with deep passes.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger should have no problem connecting on deep passes either. Mettenberger only had 97 yards passing against the Aggies last season, 29 of which came on a touchdown strike to Kadron Boone.
The Tigers attempted to throw the ball deep multiple times last season as the Aggies loaded up the box to stop the run. But Mettenberger could not get on page with his receivers.
LSU will have ample opportunity to get the ball downfield on an average Aggies secondary.
Few teams elude tacklers better than Texas A&M.
Manziel and Evans are tough to bring to the ground. Speedy sophomore running back Trey Williams has scored a touchdown in each of the Aggies' last three games on only 14 combined carries.
LSU must be effective tacklers to beat Texas A&M.
Texas A&M Keys to Victory
Play Safe Defensively
Texas A&M will load the box to stop the run, which makes it susceptible to deep passes. Yet a crowded box is just as dangerous against Jeremy Hill.
Hill burst through the second line of defense for a 47-yard touchdown run against Texas A&M last season when the Aggies crowded the line of scrimmage.
Texas A&M needs to make LSU work harder to earn its points this season by playing safer defense.
The ferocity of LSU's fans can vary. On Saturday afternoon CBS kickoffs, the heat can settle their fandom after a couple hours of traffic and tailgating.
Johnny Manziel is never afraid to mix things up with players on the field or rile up the crowd. This could be a major disadvantage for Texas A&M.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis' "Mustang" defense can be confusing to read pre-snap. It gets even harder when the crowd is rabid and it is tough to communicate.
Players to Watch for LSU
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger only threw for 97 yards last season against Texas A&M.
Mettenberger's pass protection was not the best, but elite Aggies pass rusher Damontre Moore is now in the NFL. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. should have no trouble getting open, especially if their quarterback has more time to deliver the football.
Mettenberger should have at least 250 yards passing and two touchdowns on Saturday.
LSU senior safety Craig Loston needs to play big against a team from his home state.
Loston is LSU's best tackler and will need to align his secondary properly against a powerful Kevin Sumlin offense.
Players to Watch for Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel should perform better against LSU this season. The "Mustang" defense should not give him as many problems.
But if Manziel cannot crack the code, the Aggies will need to run the ball between the tackles. The Mustang formation features three defensive linemen and two linebackers, which leaves it open to being gashed on the ground.
Malena has been the Aggies best running back with 476 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He is more than capable of running the ball to keep the Tigers defense honest up the middle, no matter the defensive formation.
Louisiana native Deshazor Everett will be pumped to play in his home state on Saturday.
Everett is a versatile defensive back who can line up anywhere on the field.
He forces turnovers, including the game-winner last season against Alabama. He allowed Kadron Boone to burn him in last season's game against LSU for the Tigers' only passing touchdown.
Everett must make plays against the run and pass on Saturday.
What They Are Saying
I think a year ago he was a runner. I think this year he’s a much more capable quarterback. I think he steps back in there, understands what to expect, and seems to be stronger in the ability to throw it.
LSU cornerback Jalen Mills believes the Tigers' depth could play a huge role in Saturday's contest, via The Dallas Morning News.
It is a day game. It’s going to be hot. If somebody catches a cramp or somebody may be gassed and may need to sit out for a play or two, we do have the depth for it...Your name could be called at any time during that game, so you have to be ready. No sitting on the sidelines.
Texas A&M senior wide receiver Travis Labhart said Death Valley is an experience he looks forward to, via The Dallas Morning News.
You see it on TV, you see the camera shaking when it’s not supposed to...We all love and embrace that opportunity. That’s when teammates become best friends — when you go into a place when there’s blood, sweat and tears and you unite together and go against 100,000 people.
There should be no shortage of points on Saturday.
Most casual fans tuning in on Saturday will be focusing on Johnny Manziel. Can Manziel's quest for a second straight Heisman continue with a stellar performance against LSU in Tiger Stadium?
While the focus will be on Manziel, the game will be decided when Mettenberger is on the field.
Texas A&M's defense matches up terribly against LSU.
The Tigers should be able to run and pass against the Aggies with ease. The offensive line should dominate the trenches much like what Alabama did to Texas A&M earlier in the season.
In years past, LSU has played lackadaisical football to close the season when out of the national championship picture. The Tigers need to avoid that at all costs.
If LSU shows up focused, the Tigers should win the game in a shootout. The Tigers get big games from Mettenberger and defensive back Dwayne Thomas.
Score: LSU 45 - Texas A&M 38