By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU WILL WIN IF …
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Keep Pounding: The offensive formula for LSU since Ed Orgeorn and Steve Ensminger took over has been rather simple. When LSU faces foes who have trouble stopping the run, the Tiger ground game runs right over them. When the opposition is sturdier at the point of attack, like Alabama and, to a lesser extent, Florida, the offense tends to struggle. Well the Aggies rank in the bottom half of the SEC in run defense and got gashed a few weeks ago in a loss to Mississippi State. Even without Leonard Fournette, who didn’t make the trip to College Station, LSU’s ground game should feast on Turkey Day.
Nothing Deep: LSU’s run defense struggled without Kendell Beckwith anchoring the middle, but at the end of the day, the decisive score in Saturday’s loss to the Gators came on a 98-yard touchdown pass. Donte Jackson played way too aggressively in bump-and-run coverage, got caught looking back for the ball and then missed a tackle to allow it. The Tigers must limit the number of big plays Thursday against a group of Aggie receivers that’re as explosive as any in the SEC. LSU can suffocate Texas A&M if it forces a banged-up quarterback to drive the length of the field consistently.
TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF …
Living on the Edge: It’s no secret that the weakness of LSU’s offensive line is on the perimeter, and that three-man rotation at tackle will get its toughest test this side of Alabama in having to contain quite possibly the nation’s best defensive end pairing. Myles Garrett, a likely top-5 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, has 8.5 sacks this season (fifth in SEC) despite nagging injuries. Daeshon Hall, the other Aggie book end, has 4.5. Texas A&M’s 36 sacks trail on Alabama for the SEC lead. If Texas A&M is going to finally beat LSU, those two rushers have to wreck the football game.
Captain Kirk: The Texas A&M offense hasn’t been the same since Trevor Knight went down with a shoulder injury, so if the Aggies are going to put points on the board against LSU, even with Knight reportedly planning to play, it’s going to need some game-breaking plays from Christian Kirk. He’s both Texas A&M’s most dangerous receiver and a lethal punt returner, having taken three punts back to the house in only 11 attempts while averaging a gaudy 24.55 yards per return. The onus will be on punter Josh Growden to keep the ball away from Kirk, because if he’s allowed to catch it with room to work, look out.