Tag Archives: les miles

Keys to the Game

So, Jeff has given you a couple of key matchups leading into the big game tonight and the two matchups that he highlighted are definitely two of the biggest storylines to watch tonight.  What I’m going to try and do, however, is give you some Keys to the Game to watch for, some specific examples of things that I think could swing the score one way or the other.  I’m not Gary Danielson and these aren’t sponsored by Home Depot but my guess is that at least one of these things is going to completely decide the outcome.

Turnovers

Alabama and LSU both are known for their ability to hold onto the football and not make the crucial mistakes.  Alabama’s runningbacks have gone something like 295 carries without a fumble and LSU is +15 in turnover margin on the season.  One turnover could take one of these teams from a win to a loss.

Field Position

It’s pretty inevitable that in a game with as much defensive hype as this game, you’re going to hear how the field position battle is crucial.   Alabama’s special teams have been a weakness for the team from a coverage perspective but they also have one of the best return men in the SEC in Marquis Maze.  Watch for Alabama to give up big yards on kickoffs but also watch for Maze to potentially switch field position back with a big punt return or two.

The Return of “Pick Six”

Jarrett Lee has been spectacular this year in relief of Jordan Jefferson following his controversy in the offseason.  Lee has been efficient to the tune of 13 touchdowns and only 1 interception on the season.  He hasn’t played a defensive backfield like Bama’s yet, though.  In case you’ve forgotten, Jarrett Lee is the same person who was notorious for doing a lot of this:

Trent Richardson’s Heisman Moment

People talk about this being Trent’s Heisman moment:

While an amazing highlight like that is definitely something that will look spectacular if Richardson wins the Heisman, a big game against lowly Ole Miss is not going to win it for him.  A big game against the #1 team in the country?  That will.

Rueben Randle

My guess is that this is going to be the biggest Key to the Game.  While Alabama has some talented receivers in Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and DeAndrew White, they don’t have a guy with the ability of Randle.  Randle caught two huge touchdown passes in the blowout against Auburn and he is the most talented receiver on the field tonight.

The truth of the matter, like I said here, is that this game is going to be broken down continuously leading up to the kickoff but in all reality, nobody really knows what is going to happen.  Whatever ends up happening, something is going to go incredibly right or incredibly wrong for one team in one of the key phases of the game.

-Sadler

Hype Videos!!

I don’t know about you but one thing that I’ve been doing for the last two weeks is watching countless hype videos before this Saturday’s “Game of the Century”.  In an effort to get everyone just as amped as I am for Saturday night, I’ve linked a couple of my favorites below.

3 Days of Hype

We here at the Dweller are not oblivious to what is going on this weekend.  That’s right, it’s Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Week!  Ok, ok. . . . it’s Tennessee-Martin at Mississippi State Week!?  Fine, I’ll get serious. . . the only game that anyone cares about this weekend and a game with more hype than many in recent memory (outside of possibly the Florida/Alabama SEC Championships of ’08 and ’09), is this weekends #1 vs. #2 matchup in Tuscaloosa.  In anticipation of the matchup, we’re going to give you what we’re calling 3 Days of Hype.

LSU and Alabama come into this weekend being two of the most dominant SEC teams that I can remember in my lifetime.  Fans of other teams can get mad at that statement all they want but it’s the truth.  Alabama, for example, has won every matchup this season by at least 16 points, while LSU has won all of their matchups by no less than 13 points.  LSU beat defending National Champion Auburn 45-10 two weeks ago while Alabama beat the current #7 team in the nation Arkansas by 24 points.

Tyrann Mathieu and the LSU secondary will look to swing momentum

While some will argue that the league is in a down year (and they are right, to a point), there is no denying the dominance that both of these teams have shown through the season’s first eight games.  Both teams feature defenses with multiple players who will start in the NFL next year and offenses that are efficient and meticulous.  While LSU may have the edge at wide receiver, Alabama has the edge at runningback and while LSU may have the most talented secondary in the country, Alabama puts possibly the nation’s most talented linebacker group on the field each week.

One of the game's big questions is whether LSU can slow down Heisman contender Trent Richardson

People can try all they want to break down this matchup (and we will also over the next couple of days) but the fact of the matter is that no one really knows which way this game is going to go.  If Trent Richardson ran for 2 touchdowns and the Tide won by 10 points, no one would really be all that surprised.  If Tyrann Mathieu and the LSU secondary returned two pick-sixes and won by 10 points, no one would be surprised, either.  What I can say for certain, though, is that this game has the makings of one of the most epic games the SEC has ever seen, so get your mind right.

When it Rains it Pours, LSU edition

"What now?"

The news coming out of Baton Rouge keeps getting worse for the Tigers.  Starting QB Jordan Jefferson and reserve LB Josh Johns have turned themselves into authorities after warrants were issued for their arrests for their part in the brawl outside a local bar last week.  The two have posted bail but are also suspended indefinitely by LSU.  Police have interviewed witnesses that say that the LSU players were not the one’s to throw the first punch, but also have implicated Jefferson as kicking one of the victims in the head as he lay on the ground.

In place of Jefferson, Sr. Jarret Lee will most likely get the start against the Ducks.  Like I said, when it rains it pours.  Lee has a career stat line that has more interceptions than TDs and a completion percentage close to 50.

Shepard, practicing for his part in the Oregon game

But it is still raining.  Jr. receiver Russell Shepard has also been suspended for the season opener and could miss more than that while LSU seeks to get him reinstated.  Shepard is tied for the lead in receptions amongst returning receivers from last season and even rushed 32 times last season for 226 yds and 2 TDs.  His presence will be missed.  Shepard is not suspended in connection with the bar fight, but for breaking NCAA rules by discussing an interview he had with NCAA investigators with a teammate who was also scheduled to talk to the NCAA.

I have no doubt that Les Miles will have the reserves coached up, and prepared for Oregon, but at some point you have to wonder just how much of a distraction all this negative publicity will be.  Very quickly LSU has gone from preseason top 5 team and favorite to win the SEC West in some circles to being considered a 4 or more loss team before this season is over.  Best of luck to the Tigers this season, but keep your umbrella handy, just in case.

-Jeff

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SEC Key Games: September 15–LSU at Mississippi State

Miles hopes to ride the magic carpet again in 2011.

A couple of years ago, coming into Starkville on a Thursday night may have been a walk in the park for an LSU team of this caliber.  Since Dan Mullen donned the maroon and white colors of the Bulldogs, that opinion has been changed entirely.  LSU has one of the tougher early-season schedules in the SEC.  Opening up in Dallas against the defending Pac 10 champion and BCS runner-up Oregon Ducks can and will show the nation what we can expect out of the Tigers in the coming months.  However, the LSU team that shows up in Starkville on September 15th will be even more important.  The Tigers return virtually every impact player on their team, with the exception of losing Patrick Peterson and Stevan Ridley to the NFL.  Les Miles will once again field one of the most athletically talented teams in the country, but just like every year, the question is whether or not they can perform to the high expectations that linger over Baton Rouge every summer leading up to opening kickoff.  Jordan Jefferson will once again be at the helm of an LSU offense that failed to have the “wow” factor last season, but managed to make just enough plays to win some of the bigger games on their schedule.  As a fan of SEC football, however, one cannot mention the LSU Tiger football team without having noted that Les Miles has been behind some of the worst play-calling decisions in the history of major college football.  As history has proved, the grass-chewing “Mad Hatter” has been on the better end of most of these decisions, but one can’t help but ponder every season that is THIS the season that the river of luck that runs through Baton Rouge will go dry.

Mullen hopes to keep opposing defenses confused.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State will once again be enjoying the roll of underdog this season.  The element of surprise is something that has worked to their advantage over the past few seasons, including last year, as the Bulldogs defeated both Georgia and Florida, as well as a 52-14 thrashing of the Michigan Wolverines in the Gator Bowl.  Dan Mullen’s offense has been anything but flashy in Starkville.  However, he has shown that he wants to play hard-nosed, smash-mouth football instead of the run-around-you offense he constructed at Florida.  This style of football has worked well with the hand he was dealt at State, with Chris Relf taking firm control of the offense last season as a solid dual-threat quarterback.  Relf ended the season with 1,800 yards through the air, as well as 880 on the ground—and that was in spite of the fact that he was splitting time early in the season.  Relf will once again be joined in the backfield by Vick Ballard, who also ran for nearly 1,000 yards while splitting carries for most of the 2010 campaign.  One thing is for certain—if there is a mismatch on the field, you can bet that Dan Mullen will find it and attempt to take advantage of it all night.  The State defense looks to return to its 2010 form as well, however losing every starting linebacker could weaken the front seven, and lose some of the sting of last year’s vaunted pass rush.  Three of the four starters on the defensive line will be returning, and Mullen has some solid talent coming in that should keep the Bulldog front four fresh throughout the season, and some of the pressure off of the new linebacker corps.  They also return their entire secondary, which is not afraid to play a very physical man to man coverage on the outside.  The Bulldogs open up the year against a JV team in Memphis.  They will be coming off another very winnable game the previous weekend in Auburn against the defending BCS Champions*.

This is Mississippi State’s chance to shock the country on primetime national television.  You can believe that Davis Wade Stadium will be at capacity, and everyone in maroon will have a cow bell in hand.  Will the “Mad Hatter” need his late-game magic to come out of Starkville with a victory?  If you’re a fan of the LSU Tigers, you better hope not.

-Chris

Check out the other SEC Key Games:
September 10–South Carolina at Georgia

4 LSU Players Sought for Questioning in Bar Fight

UPDATE:  Amidst reports that the 4 players could face arrest on Monday, they have lawyer-ed up and postponed the interview with police till a later date.

Starting QB Jordan Jefferson & 3 others sought for questioning after bar fight.

Apparently there was an ugly scene outside of a Baton Rouge bar called Shady’s early Friday morning.  Four people were taken to the hospital following an altercation allegedly involving several LSU football players (no Tigers were taken to the hospital).  On Monday police will interview starting QB Jordan Jefferson, OL Chris Davenport, DL Josh Johns and WR Jarvis Landry.  Sgt. Stone of BRPD emphasized that they were just wanting to get information from the players, and not wanting them to turn themselves in, and no arrests warrants have been filed.

Coach Les Miles was very displeased when he spoke to the media on Saturday about the incident.  He called the actions “unacceptable”, and apologized for the team.  He said that the entire team was present for the 10:30 curfew, but that a “relatively large group” was involved in going to the bar that night.  Coach Miles is punishing the team as a whole until the entire story is revealed, then individual punishments are likely.

Even if there are no legal repercussions from this event, suspensions seem likely.  That is bad news for Tiger fans as LSU opens the season against the #3 ranked Oregon Ducks, a tough test even with your entire team focused and available.  This is certainly going to make things even more interesting in the stacked SEC West.  We will update this story as news becomes available.

-Jeff

Key Non-Conference Matchups for 2011

Tyler Wilson may be the key to Arkansas' title hopes in 2011

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas/ October 1st, Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX

Arkansas is coming off a season in which they went 10-3 and comes into 2011 ranked 14th and riding high expectations.  Some have predicted the Hogs to be this years’ Auburn Tigers.  They have beaten the Aggies each of the last two years including a 24-17 victory in Arlington last year.

Texas A&M went 9-4 last year with losses to Arkansas and fellow SEC West school LSU.  They enter this year ranked 9th in the first USA Today Coaches Poll and amid rumors of a potential jump to the SEC.

Alabama at Penn State/ September 10, Beaver Stadium in College Park, PA

Alabama is being hyped as the leader to be the sixth straight SEC team to win the BCS National Championship coming off their 10-3 season last year.  They beat Penn State easily in Tuscaloosa last year but will have to travel this year to face the improved Nittany Lions.

Penn State enters the season ranked 25th in the first USA Today Coaches Poll and have elevated expectations from last year when they finished 7-6 with a loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.

Georgia vs. Boise State/ September 3, Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA

Kellen Moore will look to help his Heisman chances against Georgia in Atlanta

Georgia is being picked to finish second in the SEC East this year behind South Carolina by many but this matchup could go a long way in setting the tone for the Bulldogs season.  They come into the season ranked 22nd after finishing last season 6-7 and finishing with a loss in the Liberty Bowl.

Boise State enters the year ranked 7th and continues to ride the hype from previous seasons to high early season rankings.  Kellen Moore will look to help his Heisman chances with a strong performance in the Georgia Dome.

Jordan Jefferson will need to improve if LSU hopes to knock off the Ducks

LSU vs. Oregon/ September 3, Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX

LSU is ranked 4th in the first Coaches poll of the season and many believe their matchup with Alabama may decide the West and possibly who will play for the National Championship.  This game against the Ducks in Week 1, though, may ultimately make or break the Tigers season.  A win will go a long way towards legitimizing LSU’s title hopes.

Oregon comes in ranked 3rd after their run to the National Championship game in 2010 and despite allegations about the teams’ relationship with Willie Lyles, the Ducks are a legitimate title contender again in 2011.  A win against an SEC powerhouse like LSU would potentially set the Ducks up to run the table in the PAC-12 and return to the National Championship Game.

-Sadler