The Ole Hotty Toddy team reached out to our fellow FanSided site, DeathValleyVoice.com, for their input of the upcoming matchup between the #24 LSU Tigers and the #3 Ole Miss Rebels. This Saturday the game will be held in Death Valley, where the Tigers are an underdog for the first time in their own stadium since 2009. Cameron
Richardson is a staff writer for Death Valley Voice. You can follow Cameron Roberson on Twitter @LSUBeat and you can follow the site’s Twitter @DeathValleyFS. In our preview with Death Valley Voice, we have put together a table of who we think will win in each category of the game. Below that, check out our sit-down interview with Cameron on previewing the Tigers.
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Ole Hotty Toddy: Anthony Jennings appears to be the starting QB for LSU coming into this game. What will he do to challenge the best defense in the country?
"Death Valley Voice: I think it’s more about what he won’t do. If there’s one thing Jennings hasn’t done in conference games, its turn the ball over. It’s one of the biggest reasons why Les Miles favors Jennings over the more talented Brandon Harris. Jennings might not wow you with his tools, but he doesn’t turn the ball over and largely makes safe decisions. For LSU to win, though, I do think Jennings is going to have to connect on a couple of deep balls, just enough to keep the Rebel secondary off the line of scrimmage so that LSU can run the football. That’s a tall order for someone completing around 50% of his passes."
OHT: What are the strengths of LSU?
"DVV: Offensively, the running game. Early in the year, the team was able to run, but the offensive line hadn’t quite come around. That was a bit of a surprise, as LSU returned 4/5 offensive line starters from last year. The line has shuffled considerably since, notably adding talented sophomore Ethan Pocic at guard, and is finally hitting its stride. LSU lives by it’s running game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Tiger secondary is currently ranked #1 in the SEC. It’s a long, athletic unit that loves tight man coverage and really takes receivers out of their game by being so physical. There have been games when cornerback Tre’Davious White hasn’t even been thrown to. LSU’s newest weapon in the secondary, safety Jamal Adams, is everywhere. Some have even compared him to the Honey Badger, which might actually be appropriate. Adams is always near the ball and seemingly was in on every big play against Kentucky last week, including springing Tre’ White on his punt return TD with a nasty block."
OHT: What are the weaknesses of LSU?
"DVV: The passing game is a glaring issue. LSU simply does not have one. It hasn’t regressed to 2010 levels, when LSU couldn’t even throw for 100 yards in some games, but it’s not good. Jennings has been extremely slow to make decisions, holds onto the ball too long, and has been errant on short and intermediate throws. That’s improved in the past couple of weeks, but it’s by no means good. LSU is completing the bare minimum in the passing game and can essentially be boiled down to a vertical to Travin Dural. Defensively, LSU has not been able to stop the run. The Tigers are 10th in the SEC in rush defense, but some of that is starting the conference slate with the two best rushing teams in the conference in Auburn and Mississippi State. Still, this team has been extremely vulnerable right up the middle. Replacing D.J. Welter with the more athletic Kendell Beckwith at MLB has helped, but there are yards to be had running through the center of the defense."
OHT: Which LSU players should we be most concerned about and why?
"DVV: Jamal Adams is LSU’s next great defensive back. As mentioned earlier, the freshman was everywhere against Kentucky. He has been fantastic as an extra DB rushing the quarterback and his coverage skills have been good. Adams is a terror on special teams, as well. Leonard Fournette didn’t have the best week last week, but if Fournette gets it going again he’s nearly impossible to stop. His 140 yards against Florida were not the exception."
OHT: I found very limited information on the Tigers’ injury report. Is there any key players that are out right now that could play a factor in this game?
"DVV: LSU is pretty healthy right now. Starting nickel defensive back Dwayne Thomas reportedly tore his ACL against New Mexico State three weeks ago, but tweeted yesterday about possibly seeing him on the field this weekend. No idea if that’s true or not, but Miles is pretty tight-lipped about injuries. Even if he’s back, Jamal Adams has been the fill-in and might have even Wally Pipped him. LSU’s looking good on the injury front."
OHT: What are the keys to success for LSU in possibly pulling off an upset?
"DVV: Running the football and keeping Bo Wallace in check. It would be great for LSU if Bo Wallace of years past showed up, but he’s been fantastic in conference games this year. Ole Miss hasn’t shown a particular knack for running the football, which has been this defense’s weakness. If LSU can keep the Rebel passing game in check and keep it low scoring, it will give the Tigers a chance. Offensively, as long as Jennings takes care of the football and hits on enough passes, LSU may find enough opportunities to get some points against the Rebel defense. It’s a tall order, but the running game has improved this year and Ole Miss’ defense isn’t built for the type of rushing attack LSU will bring. LSU recovered from their special teams SNAFU’s against Florida to get back to LSU-style special teams against Kentucky. The Tiger kicking, coverage, and return units are very good and it might take special teams rising to the occasion and giving LSU a chance to win. There’s also always the Saturday night mystique of playing in Tiger Stadium. While LSU fans haven’t exactly kept it full all game long this year, they know what this game means. Look for all 102,300 seats to be completely filled until the end of the game. LSU’s going to have to play a stellar defensive game and play effective offense to win this one, but I think their chance to win is better than most might think."