May 31, 2020

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Photo credit Marianna Massey

For the first time in nearly 50 years LSU will play an away game versus a top ten non-conference opponent in their own stadium.  Saturday night the Tigers face off against the Longhorns in Austin, Texas. A matchup that pits No. 6 ranked LSU against No. 9 ranked Texas slated for a primetime kickoff at 6:30 on ABC. Saturday’s game marks the second time that both teams play each other ranked in the top 10. The first time was in 1963 when No. 7 ranked LSU defeated No. 4 ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl 13-0.


How each team matches up

Offensively, the Longhorns have a playmaker in junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger. The 6’3 229 pound signal caller has the ability to beat you with his arm and his legs. “I think tackling him in space when he runs the football, he reminds me a lot of Tebow. He breaks tackles, especially in the red zone.” Coach Orgeron said of what would be the biggest thing in defending Ehlinger. Against La Tech. Ehlinger was 28 of 38 for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns, a defense that allowed close to 200 yards per game through the air while also allowing just over one passing touchdown in 2018. With only one scholarship running back listed “healthy” on the depth chart expect Ehlinger to run the ball a little more than originally planned. At running back for the Longhorns, Keaontay Ingram, will play but how much is still to be determined. The sophomore tailback is still recovering from a bone bruise he suffered during a scrimmage the second week of August, he did carry the ball 11 times last week for 78 yards and a score against La Tech. After that it looks like they have shuffled the roster to try to get some depth. Roschon Johnson a former quarterback, and David Gbenda a former linebacker, will now get added to the running back position to fill much needed depth at an already thin position. Senior Collin Johnson is a match-up nightmare, the 6’6 220 pound wide receiver is a favorite target for Ehlinger on the perimeter. “If you man up on him, it could be great, but not many people can man up with him, he’s going to beat one on one coverage, he’s good at press off the line, and he’s a good blocker in their bubble game on the outside.” explains Orgeron. Johnson is currently listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against the Tigers due to a groin injury.

Defensively, the Tigers will start Tyler Shelvin at the nose tackle position. At 6’3 346 pounds, the sophomore is a load to move off his spot and will command double and triple teams. This will give one on one match up for defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan. The position to watch on this Tiger defense will be at the linebacker spot. Coach Dave Aranda will definitely have some exotic blitz packages worked out this week to bring pressure from everywhere on the field. With outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson being back in the mix this year, returning from last year’s knee injury Game one against Miami, Chaisson has said “I’ve got last year built up in me, and this year, and I am going to show it.” Ed Orgeron stated “we have to win the turnover battle, their defense is +2 in turnovers, and our defense is +2. We’ll be ready, today is turnover Wednesday.” Last week the Tigers allowed a total of 98 yards defensively against Georgia Southern. A team that came in averaging close to 270 yards on the ground the year before. For the Tigers to shut down them completely like that, and not allow them to cross the 50, except for once is shocking. Senior defensive back Kristian Fulton, and freshman Derek Stingley Jr. will be the lynchpins to the Tigers defense this week. The Longhorns, do not have a vertical passing attack, but rather a quick sideline-to-sideline attack, that creates space and allows their receivers to run. Fulton and Stingley will be tested quickly, and I believe will be up to the task.

On offense for the Tigers, a full year has gone by for quarterback Joe Burrow to mesh with his receivers. After coming into Baton Rouge last season the week of fall camp, Burrow helped the Tigers to a 10 win season and a New Year’s Six Bowl Game victory against “Defending National Champion” University of Central Florida. Head Coach Ed Orgeron saw the impact of how the spread offense would work in that game, and went out and hired Saints passing game coordinator Joe Brady. In their first game under Coach Brady’s new passing attack Joe Burrow tied or broke several LSU passing records, including touchdowns in a half; with five, completed passes; with 20 or more in four straight games. His 85.2 completion percentage (23 of 27) ranks 5th all-time in LSU history in games of 20 or more attempts. “Everybody eats” has been the theme of this offense all off-season and in the game against Ga. Southern 14 different receivers caught passes. Compared to last season, 14 different receivers caught passes all season. Of those catching passes this past Saturday five were running backs, only four running backs caught passes all of last season. The offense looked very efficient, and balanced keeping the Georgia Southern defense guessing. Rushing 33 times and passing 39 more, very efficient and well balanced. Coach Orgeron stated “I thought our offense was very efficient for us, Steve (Ensminger) did a great job calling plays for us, along with Joe Brady. I thought (Joe) Burrow was phenomenal. Very efficient, not a lot of dropped balls, no turnovers, no sacks.”

On defense the Longhorns are “very strong, fast, and physical. They are a zone blitz football team, and they have very good linebackers that can disguise their blitzes” says Orgeron. Baton Rouge native, “Malcolm Roach is a really good pass rusher, we had him in camp here, we were really close to offering him.” The 6’3 290 pound senior defensive lineman, from Madison Prep, has played in all 34 games with 11 starts. Roach has five career sacks going into Saturday’s game against the Tigers. Sophomore safety Caden Sterns started all 13 games last season as a true freshman and lead the Longhorns with four interceptions. He will be the player to watch in that Texas secondary, as he is currently on the preseason Thorpe Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists. That being said, this is a defense that gave up 413 total yards, (340 passing, 73 rushing) to La. Tech, a good team with an excellent coach, but a few steps behind the Tigers defensively.