Inside the LSU-Mississippi State game
Friday, September 30, 2005
By Jim Kleinpeter
LSU (1-1, 0-1) vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (2-2, 0-2)
--Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. Davis-Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
--Coaches: LSU, Les Miles (29-22, 1-1, fifth season overall, first at LSU); Miss. State, Sylvester Croom (5-10, second year, both at Miss. St.)
--TV/Radio: Tiger Vision/WWL 870-AM.
INJURIES: Miles said OL Brett Helms (unspecified injury) will miss a week to 10 days and OL Peter Dyakowski (foot) about two weeks because of injuries. OL Nate Livings, who injured an ankle against Arizona State, aggravated the injury Monday but should be ready Saturday, as should DB Jessie Daniels and DE Claude Wroten. Mississippi State’s only injury is DB Demario Bobo, who is questionable (knee).
KEEP AN EYE ON: LSU WR/KR SKYLER GREEN
LSU’s best offensive skill player caught only two passes for 10 yards and got only one touch in the second half of the loss to Tennessee. The lone second half touch resulted in a 27-yard punt return. It’s important for Green, a senior and leader, to get involved early and give a lift to the sagging offense. Green has shown he’s recovered from an ankle injury that plagued him last year. So far, he’s returned five punts for 90 yards. He leads the SEC in that department. But the LSU offensive game plan has to get Green the ball in space and let him create.
GAMEPLAN: First, LSU must patch up an injured offensive line, which could be without three players, and try to rediscover its offense. The Tigers had only 44 yards of offense in the second half vs. Tennessee. LSU may try to avoid playing physical since many players will still be sore after having four days between games. State’s run defense is allowing only 2.7 yards per play. The Tigers may find success with its talented corps of wide receivers. On defense, LSU will see more of the short passing game of the past two games. The Bulldogs use the West Coast offense with its short drops, quick passes and crossing routes, but the Tigers also have to be mindful of speedy running back Jerious Norwood, who is averaging five yards per carry. Quarterback Omarr Conner is completing 58.4 of his passes and is a dangerous runner. State’s TE Eric Butler, who is 6-3 and 254 pounds, could present a matchup problem.
KEY MATCHUP - LSU’S DEFENSIVE LINE VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE’S OFFENSIVE LINE:
As poorly as the defense played against Tennessee, the Tigers front line completely shut down the Vols running game in the first half. Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten were disruptive and the level of play didn’t suffer much when backups such as Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey went in. Mississippi State’s offensive line has been inconsistent, despite the numbers produced by Norwood and Conner. In two SEC games, it has allowed nine sacks, and LSU is coming off a four-sack game against Tennessee. Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said he would like to play a little more physical this week. “We have got to get into the rhythm of running the football,” he said. “We are going to start doing it the hard way by knocking some people off the football. We are not going to try and finesse people.”
BY THE NUMBERS: 39 – LSU’s streak of consecutive games with at least one sack; 2 – fumbled center snaps by LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell; 41 – consecutive starts by LSU OT Andrew Whitworth; 7 – career interceptions by LSU safety Laron Landry. 8 – consecutive field goals made by LSU; 98 – previous meetings between the schools in football, LSU’s longest series; 12 – LSU victories against State in the last 13 years; 16 – consecutive losses to SEC West teams by State; 7 – turnovers by the Bulldogs through four games, a significant improvement over last year.
ODDS AND ENDS: Colt David, who kicks PATs for LSU, made his first career field goal against Tennessee in overtime, a 31-yarder. …Saturday will be the first time LSU has played two games in a week since 1973 when the Tigers played Mississippi State on Nov. 17 and Alabama on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving night. … Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom and LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini were assistants on the same Green Bay Packers coaching staff in 2001 and 2002. …A victory by the Bulldogs would give Mississippi State its first 3-2 start since 2000. … Norwood is 431 yards from becoming Mississippi State’s all-time leading rusher. He has 2,390 yards, putting him fifth all-time behind leader Walter Packer (1973-76) with 2,820.
FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH: “It’s not the start of a normal season in any way. This football team has quality men, and I don’t think the coaching staff and players are ready to start finger pointing. Let’s get it fixed, hang in there and get better.” LSU coach Les Miles.