By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU WILL WIN IF …
The line jells: LSU comes into this game with a veteran quarterback, a Heisman caliber running back and a wealth of skill talent that can be deployed in a multitude of ways by an offense that’s difficult to prepare for without any film. However, all of that potential turning into points will depend on an offensive line that’s building chemistry on the fly being able to block a stout, physical defensive front. LSU must win at the point of attack to let all the different machinations of Matt Canada’s offense shine.
Generate a rush: Dave Aranda spent much of training camp organizing a defense in preparation for the likelihood that All-American edge rusher Arden Key wouldn’t be available for the season opener. His absence will challenge Aranda and Co. to get creative in the way they go after BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum. Expect LSU to situationally deploy K’Lavon Chaisson at ‘Buck’ linebacker in passing situations and bring pressure from different places to supplement Key’s contributions. Defensive ends Rashard Lawrence, Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron could also be tasked with taking on greater roles in the pass rush.
BYU WILL WIN IF …
Don’t make mistakes: The Cougars certainly hold an experience edge over LSU. Not only has BYU already played a game to work out some kinks — the Cougars defeated Portland State 20-6 Saturday — but it has a considerably older roster than LSU does. The average age of a BYU player is 21.4 years old, a byproduct of the fact that the program accepts players who spend years on religious missions before college. If BYU can wait out a young LSU team that’s breaking in a host of first-time starters and plans to play several freshmen in pivotal roles, the Cougars could spring an upset.
Control the clock: Weird as this may have been to write in years past, LSU is not a team BYU wants to get into a shootout with. Even with new faces at all three levels, Aranda’s defense still figures to be a tough one to score on. LSU may not come out of the gates firing on all cylinders offensively in its first game under Canada, and BYU cannot allow the Tigers to find any sort of rhythm. That means the Cougars need to be both efficient and balanced offensively. Running back Squally Canada can take some pressure off Mangum.