11/24/14 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
In just three days, LSU will take on Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day in a game that should show us a lot about the character of this Tiger team. The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPN. LSU has opened as a 2.5-point favorite, and I think that’s just about right. Yesterday we looked at how the two teams compare statistically, and today we’ll take a look at how LSU’s offense matches up against A&M’s defense, and vice versa. Of course we’ll also look at special teams and intangibles. Here we go…
LSU offense vs. Texas A&M defense
Considering the way LSU’s offense played against Arkansas a week and a half ago, it’s hard to give LSU’s offense an advantage against any defense at this time. Fortunately for the Tigers, the Aggies are one of the few defenses that wouldn’t be favored in this matchup. This is because the Aggies’ rushing defense is last in the SEC and 106th in the nation, plus the Aggies are a little banged up from multiple injuries in November. Josh Walker, a freshman starter at linebacker, broke his foot and is out for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Ivan Robinson, linebacker Otaro Alaka and the sensational Myles Garrett are all recovering from injuries and listed as probable for the game against LSU. The possibility of Garrett, who is a freshman defensive end who has taken the SEC by storm with 11 sacks this season, being absent or not 100% is fortunate for LSU, although most feel he will play. As for LSU injuries, offensive linemen Elliot Porter and Vadal Alexander were badly missed against Arkansas, but Alexander is expected to play in this game. Porter is unlikely. With Alexander back, the Tigers should be able to move the ball on this Aggie defense with a ground and pound attack. Of course, the optimist in me wants to believe Miles and company have added some offensive wrinkles to go along with that running game, but the realist in me has doubts.
LSU defense vs. Texas A&M offense
For a freshman quarterback coming off of the bench, A&M’s Kyle Allen has been pretty darn good for the Aggies. In his last two starts, including a win against Auburn, Allen has thrown for roughly 500 yards and seven touchdowns, so his presence at quarterback should be respected. However, since LSU’s defense turned the corner in the second half against Florida, it has been phenomenal. The secondary, fueled by Tre’Davious White and Jalen Mills, has been stingy, while the middle of the defense has been much stouter with Davon Godchaux at tackle and Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker. Plus, during the past two seasons, John Chavis has proven to be quite successful against Texas A&M, figuring out how to beat Kevin Sumlin’s team in back-to-back defensive struggles.
For the first time this season, I’m giving an LSU opponent the advantage in special teams. With the combination of kicker Josh Lambo (second in the conference in field goal percentage), Drew Kaiser (third in the conference in yards per punt) and Louisiana’s own Speedy Noil returning kicks, the Aggies would hold an advantage in this area against most teams. Generally speaking LSU’s special teams have been very strong, but Colby Delahoussaye is coming off a career-worst performance against Arkansas in which he missed two field goals, leading to concern of his confidence being shaken. Personally I think Delahoussaye will return to his normal super-dependable ways, but at this point I have to give a slight edge to A&M.
Slight Advantage Texas A&M
LSU is coming off of a 17-0 loss to Arkansas, has to travel to play Texas A&M on Thanksgiving and has to overcome the public chatter surrounding the team’s offensive flaws. Obviously, the intangibles department favors the Aggies. How LSU responds to all of this will say a lot about the makeup and mindset of this team. Meanwhile, the Aggies, despite coming off a close loss to Missouri, have found some momentum with Kyle Allen, and the “12th man” will likely build off of it in a wild environment Thursday night.
Advantage Texas A&M
In other football news, a couple of former Tigers deserve big props for their performances yesterday:
Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 345 yards in the Titan’s 43-24 loss to the Eagles, making him just the fifth LSU quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards in an NFL game. He joins Matt Flynn, Bert Jones, David Woodley and Y.A. Tittle as former Tigers to accomplish that feat. Congrats @mettshow!
And how ’bout the outstanding catch by Odell Beckham, Jr. that many are calling the best catch ever! If you haven’t seen it yet (or even if you have), check out this video and judge for yourself. Amazing!
In basketball news, LSU will be facing Clemson today at 3 p.m. CST in their last game of the Paradise Jam at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center in the US Virgin Islands. A win today would give LSU (3-1) two wins in the tournament and a fourth place finish, which is nothing to sneeze at. Clemson is 2-2 after losing in the opening round to Gardner-Webb, 72-70, and then downing Nevada, 59-50, on Saturday. Today’s game can be heard on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network and is also available in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.
A few tidbits in closing:
• To those of you will be traveling and away from the internet for the next few days, I'd like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving in advance. Wednesday morning I'll post my annual Thanksgiving message, including my late father’s (Don’s) legendary Thanksgiving stories (and a few of my own) that so many of you enjoy each year.
• I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later today, so if you have Arkansas tickets that you would like me to post, please let me know.
• In our Louisiana High School Football Pickem, three participants tied for 1st place this week by correctly picking 49 of 56 Round 2 playoff games each. The three are tensas65, robplaisance, and ryan nash. User mmr (Mr. Bob Register) is one of several participants who correctly picked 48 games, and that was enough to keep him firmly in the lead in the overall standings (up by five over CoachMJ). Voting for the Round 3 playoff games in now open.