10/3/15 6:00 am CDT
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
On a cool, crisp fall evening, the Tigers will look to extend their 50-game non-conference regular season win streak and clean up a few mistakes from last week when they take on Eastern Michigan in Tiger Stadium. The game, which will be the Tigers’ first home night contest of the season (the McNeese cancellation doesn’t count), is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU. I invite you to follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter as I’ll be tweeting a few comments and stats throughout the game.
On most game days I give you my keys to an LSU victory, but with LSU being a 44-point favorite in this game I will instead give you my keys to a successful showing. Here we go…
Keys to a Successful LSU Showing Against Eastern Michigan
The Tigers have committed 28 penalties through three games this season, and their average of 86 penalty yards per game is the 7th most among FBS schools. LSU could probably overcome a lot of penalties in today’s game, but that will not be the case against future opponents.There’s no better time than today to focus on communication issues and work out the kinks.
Pressure the Quarterback
As Mike Detillier pointed out in yesterday’s Q&A, pressure breaks the pipes in football, and for the Tigers to really make the most of this season they need to develop a big-time pass rusher. LSU has several candidates who have shown great potential, but none more-so than true freshman Arden Key. The only thing holding Key back is experience, and the more reps he gets the better he’ll be. Here’s hoping he gets a lot of reps today. I’m also hoping to see Isaiah Washington as a pass rusher today, assuming he’s able to play. Washington injured his wrist in the preseason and hasn’t yet had an opportunity to show what he can do.
Get Guys Involved
In addition to Washington, I’d like to see LSU play several guys who haven’t seen a lot of playing time thus far - guys like wide receivers DJ Chark and Trey Quinn, tight end DeSean Smith, running backs Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette, defensive tackle Quintin Thomas and cornerback Ed Paris.
Put the Special Back in Special Teams
The Tigers have given up too many hidden yards this season by not kicking the ball deep and allowing big returns on kickoffs. In fact, nearly half (6-of-13) of all kickoffs returned against the Tigers have gone for 25 yards or more, including a 40-yard return and a 37-yard return. If the Tigers score as often as I think they will today, they should have many opportunities to improve in this area. And while I don’t expect LSU to do a whole lot of punting in this game, I would like to see Jamie Keehn improve his consistency.
Improve the Passing Game
Last, but far from least, I hope to see Brandon Harris have a breakout game passing the ball. As I have written several times, Harris has played very well so for this season and has done everything asked of him. The only problem is that LSU hasn’t asked him to do a whole heck of a lot in the passing game. LSU is averaging only 15.7 pass attempts per game, which is the fewest in the SEC. That’s understandable considering that LSU has the best running back in the country, but at some point in the season LSU will need Harris to win a game for them with his arm. Tonight’s game offers the most risk-free opportunity for Harris to get the reps he and his receivers need.
In recruiting news, LSU will be entertaining at least 15 recruits this weekend, including several players already committed to LSU and a few big targets for 2016 and 2017. The visitor list, as per this report by 247Sports, is highlighted by a couple of big-time defensive linemen for 2017. One is Marvin Wilson (6-4, 316, Episcopal High, Bellaire), the top-rated defensive tackle in the country, and the other is defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson (6-3, 205), the teammate of LSU 2016 safety commit Eric Monroe at Northshore High in Houston. The two biggest uncommitted 2016 targets visiting this weekend are linebacker Marvin Terry (6-1, 216) of South Oak Cliff High in Dallas, and offensive lineman Collin Fountain (6-2.5, 313) of Barbe High in Lake Charles.
In baseball news, sophomore Bryce Jordan suffered a torn meniscus on Wednesday and will miss the remainder of fall practice. Jordan was off to a great start this fall and was one of two leading contenders for the first base position, according to this article by the Advocate. Jordan will have surgery Monday and is expected to be fully recovered by the spring. Still, his loss this fall will make Coach Mainieri’s task of replacing eight position players from last year’s team a little more daunting.
A few closing tidbits:
• For those of you planning on attending today’s game, here are the day’s Times of Interest. Also, Louisiana’s Office of Tourism website, LouisianaTravel.com, is encouraging fans to arrive early and make a day of it by suggesting these 5 Ways to Spend the Day Around LSU's Tiger Stadium.
• All of the scores from last night’s Louisiana high school football action can be found on our statewide prep football scoreboard.
• Oh, and don’t forget to follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter for comments and stats during the big game. Have a great day, Tiger Fans!