College Football Game of the Week: Week 2
By Steve Morton:
LSU at Mississippi State
Why this game? In an attempt to avoid, the bear crapped in a Victoria’s Secret smell of ‘homerism’ in the game of the week, I decided not to go with Oklahoma at Tennessee. The big game, other than that one, for me is the SEC West slugfest of LSU at Mississippi State. This game could be for 1st in the SEC West or it could be for last. The West is that tough and balanced. The Tigers are loaded everywhere with the exception of QB, a glaring weakness. Better QB play in 2014 might have led to a trip to Atlanta but instead led to a trip to Nashville for the Tigers. Mississippi State is led by Dak Prescott as well as a physical defense and offense came within a win of ending up in Atlanta themselves last year. A late upset loss in the Egg Bowl to Ole Miss kept the Bulldogs out of Atlanta. The two teams are a study in contrasts one is a national power with two national championships in the last decade and a recruiting powerhouse that comes with it. The other is a program that depends for the most part on 2 & low 3 star recruits that are developed inside of the system.
Where can I see it? ESPN on Saturday, September 12th at 9:15 PM ET
A draft perspective – The 2016 draft prospects for this game for LSU are Jerald Hawkins (OT), Vidal Alexander (OT), Travin Dural (WR) & Tre’Darious White (CB). For the Bulldogs, De’Runnya Wilson (WR), Chris Jones (DT), Will Redman (CB) & Taveze Calhoun (CB)
When the Big Kitties have the ball –
LSU OC Cam Cameron was an OC in the NFL for many years but has adjusted to the college game going more Pro-set with lots of shotgun with Zach Mettenberger to zone read with Jennings/Harris. LSU is one of the most talented offensive teams in the country. It starts up from with a couple of tackles with a combined 60 starts. Vidal Alexander started 9 games at RT as a freshman and has made 25 starts at LG after Jerald Hawkins entered the starting lineup after a red-shirt year. Hawkins has started all 26 games since at RT and now shifts to LT to replace La’el Collins. Hawkins is a natural pass protector if not the dominant presence Collins brought to the game. Alexander kicks out to RT where he is a large road grating presence. Ethan Pocic returns as a starter who can play either center or guard to allow for the best five. All of three have the height that is perfect for an NFL lineman at 6’6 and above. Running behind this offensive line is one of the nation’s most talented RBs in sophomore Leonard Fournette, a back with both speed and power. Sophomore Malachi Dupre and Junior Travin Dural are both fast WRs who can eat a CB’s cushion and rip the top off the defense. LSU was prevented from having an elite offense in 2014 because of spotty QB play. Anthony Jennings’s struggles allowed defenses to take chances with Dural and Dupree and load the box vs the run. Brandon Harris is a talented sophomore who should be an improvement over Jennings. That reports had him running behind Jennings until the latter was suspended were not encouraging. State will counter with a defense that returns 3 starters. Those players are Beniquez Brown and corners Will Redman and Taveze Calhoun. Chris Jones who takes over at a DT position is the highest recruited player in the Mullen era. New DC Manny Diaz is known for his aggressive approach and we should expect the Bulldogs to be ultra-aggressive on this side of the ball.
When the Dogs have the ball – Just as on offense, Mississippi State loses a pack of starters, seven in all. Returning is the acclaimed QB Dak Prescott. Prescott is a big, mobile, tough QB in the mode of another Mullen QB, Tim Tebow. Mullen is a firm branch of the Urban Meyer family tree having coached under him at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. The Bulldogs will run a spread offense with a power interior run game that Mullen has come to be known for at State. Perhaps, the best pro prospect in the game is De’Runnya Wilson a 6’5” junior with athletic ability and good hands. State will hope these two players will ease the loss of good players like Josh Robinson to graduation. Wilson and Prescott dominated this game in 2014 and State will put it in their hands in their hands this year after a vanilla game plan against Southern Miss, the 1st game of the season. The Tigers don’t have a good matchup for Wilson but junior CB Tre’Darious White is fast and competitive if small. LSU hired one of the best line coaches in the country in Ed Orgeron to fix an annually underachieving pass rush. Kevin Steele comes in as DC from Alabama. Both are excellent recruiters. Look for LSU to play an attacking defense that will be different than the 4-3 played under John Chavis. Questions abound regarding Steele as a coordinator. When last in that role with Clemson, his defense yielded 70 points to West Virginia. LSU is talented on defense with sophomores Kendall Beckwith (LB) and Jordan Adams (S) the two best players. Adams has the size and speed to be one of the nation’s best safeties. The Bayou Bengals will miss senior safety Jalen Mills, out of this game with a fractured leg.
The Fans take (LSU)
Obvious one is Harris. He played really well against them last year after he replaced Jennings. From the limited snaps last weekend it looks like he’s gonna be doing a lot of zone read with Fournette. Tre White If he lines up against DeRunnya is gonna [sic] be the most important matchup tbh. DeRunnya destroyed us last year. Jamal Adams in the secondary should help there, best safety in the country
Leonard, the strength of our O line and our WR, and Ed Orgeron will be the X factors
The Fans Take (Mississippi State) –
I think we will build the offense around Dak, Saturday, much more than we showed against USM. It’s almost like we came out with an “Ask Corso” game plan against USM… very vanilla and basic. That, along with wacky plays like turnovers and onside kicks, led to a very slow, non-traditional start to the game. Once we settled in, we were able to control the game for the most part. Our defense also played a pretty soft game, and allowed some concerning passing play success. However, we held out Taveze Calhoun, one of our best CBs, out of the USM game as precaution, and his replacements didn’t play well. He should be back for the LSU game, so I’d put him and Will Redmond as the players to watch on defense. Our front seven should be fine. On offense, I’d like to see De’Runnya Wilson involved more than he was vs USM… it almost seems like he was forgotten about. Fred Ross was targeted plenty of times, but made some mistakes. And Brandon Holloway is our fastest player on the team. Getting the ball into his hands could lead to some exciting stuff.
Talking a little smack
— trevor newsome (@TitansTrev55) September 9, 2015
2016 Draft Offensive Player to Watch –
De’Runnya Wilson WR Mississippi State – Wilson is raw having only played football since his senior year of high school but his combination of height, speed and movement are rare. He plays WR with excellent positioning and a ‘my ball mentality.’ He’s the best draft eligible prospect on the field. Others to watch: LSU’s bookend tackles: Jerald Hawkins and Vidal Alexander.
2016 Draft Defensive Player to Watch –
Tre’Darious White CB LSU – White is a smaller corner with speed and the ability to mirror WRs down the field. He’s competitive and though not a strength, he is willing to put his head in against the run. In the bowl game vs Notre Dame, he did a good job against speed WRs like Fuller and Brown and was competitive vs the taller Corey Robinson. Wilson is a WR in Robinson’s mode. White will compete. Other names to watch: MSU talented corners: Redman and Calhoun. MSU’s Chris Jones is perhaps the most talented lineman in the game. But he has not produced to the level of his talent in his two seasons in Starkville
Cat or Dog Person?
This game all comes to Harris for me. If he balls out, I think the Big Kitties win in a 38-31 shootout. If not, I expect this to be a 31-17 win for the Dogs. I’m going to take the over on Harris and take LSU 38-31.
NostraMorton’s Top 12 (Week 2)
1. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
12. Florida State
LSU moves into the top 10 after playing no one based on this deeper dive. Notre Dame moves up based on Malik Zaire confirming his bowl game performance vs LSU against Texas. Stanford drops out and NostraMorton takes the L on putting them in the top 10 to begin the season