Wednesday, October 21, 2009
When Les Miles was a kid he must have collected Monopoly "Get Out of Jail Free" cards. I've never seen a team escape so many "there's no chance they win" situations only to come back and miraculously win. Amazingly his LSU teams are able to overcome not only insurmountable circumstances, but they consistently do it in spite of their foolish coach. They enter each game with two opponents...the one standing across the field and the man who calls their shots. It's an amazing thing to watch.
The best thing Auburn has going for it against LSU is the Bengal Tigers seem to always play to the level of their opponent. If they play UAB or USC it seems to always come down to 4th and 8 and they convert despite Miles trying to change the play or call timeout or run the ball when a pass is the logical play call. Every game LSU has played this season the outcome has been in question in the fourth quarter, including leading Vandy 16-9 in the fourth. They should have lost to Georgia were it not for the referees giving LSU the game. They should have lost to Mississippi State were it not for MSU getting cute on the goal line. The point is, they repeatedly find themselves in a fight down to the wire against the best teams in America as well as the worst teams in this conference.
LSU's offense has been terrible this season. Either their QB has zero confidence or the coaching staff zero confidence in him (probably a bit of both), but their passing game has been poor. With their top two tailbacks returning including the biggest and smallest back duo maybe ever, conventional wisdom was the running game was going to be dominant on the Bayou this year. Surprisingly, itt hasn't been good either. The problem...if you can't pass the ball with some success you can't run the ball with any success(unless you're Kentucky playing Auburn at night in Jordan-Hare with a true freshman QB....). Teams have loaded up the box and have dared Jordan Jefferson to beat them. He's not that talented.
Auburn's problem is LSU represents everything Kentucky was...only bigger, faster, and stronger at every single position. Auburn knew Kentucky had to run the football to win the football game and we could not stop them. LSU enters with the same plan, only two weeks to study tendencies, weaknesses, add new wrinkles, and chart a plan of attack.
Defensively, LSU will be the best defense we've played to date, perhaps the best we'll play all year save Alabama's. I'd be shocked if Ben Tate rushes for over 100 yards in this one. The only way that happens is if Chris Todd can squeeze the ball in to tightly covered receivers with pressure in his face. If it's Chris Todd games 1-5 we have a shot. If it's dead arm Chris Todd from Fayetteville and against UK, we lose big.
The key to this game will be our offenses ability to stay on the football field. If we keep the defense on the field all night, LSU wears us down in a hurry with their big backs and athletic QB. But if we sustain drives and keep the defense off balance by mixing up personnel groupings, spreading the ball around, taking strategic shots downfield successfully, and running the ball enough to keep them honest then we can win this game.
Unfortunately, I don't think Chris Todd is healthy (whether it's fatigue or reinjury) and until he proves otherwise, I expect to see a repeat of the last two weeks. His play affects our ability to run the ball, our ability to play defense at a high level (mind you that bar has been set awfully low this season), and ultimately our ability to win games. It all hinges on him. Is that unfair?---yes it probably is. That's a lot of pressure for one person to strap on their back. But that's what the Gus Malzahn offense requires, solid, consistent, efficient distribution from the QB position. It'll be close, but the Cajuns have some sort of voodoo magic to seemingly make the ball bounce their way.