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Pick 6: Q and A with an opposing beat reporter

We used to call Hugh Kellenberger a co-worker. Now, he’s THE ENEMY.

No, not really. Hugh covers Ole Miss for The Clarion-Ledger, and he’s been nice enough to join his old co-worker for our Pick 6 on the surging Rebels.

Ole Miss upset Alabama earlier this season and then proceeded to attack its goal posts. (Clarion-Ledger)

Ole Miss upset Alabama earlier this season and then proceeded to attack its goal posts. (Clarion-Ledger)

You can follow Hugh on Twitter at @HKellenbergerCL and read his work here.

1. Ole Miss enters this game 7-0 for the first time since 1962 and No. 3 nationally. What’s the feeling/environment like in Oxford these days?

It’s a tad difficult to explain, but I’ll give it my best shot.

People aren’t running through the streets with goal posts the way they were after Alabama, if that’s what you’re asking. That was three weeks ago, and time goes on and people settle back into their routine. But people are talking about Ole Miss more, it seems, and doing so in this very proud way.

Mississippians get used to being told how we’re last in everything good (like education) and first in everything bad (like obesity). And then you have something come along like this, which was very much unexpected (the team was supposed to be this good, but few thought THIS good), and I think people who would not know Bo Wallace from Bo Derek normally can take a measure of pride in something happening that reflects well on this state and its people.

2. What does LSU need to do to turn Good Bo (Wallace) into Bad Bo?

Score. Score early. Ole Miss has settled into a nice routine over the last month or so: let the offense find its way into the game while the defense keeps the thing close by being its usual dominating self.

The A&M game was a bit different because Ole Miss got up 21-0 in the first quarter and then settled in to a conservative gameplan. Bo Wallace has said a couple of times that his mindset has changed: he doesn’t have to be the playmaker, because the defense is.

Can LSU force Bad Bo to emerge? (Clarion-Ledger)

Can LSU force Bad Bo to emerge? (Clarion-Ledger)

Getting up on Ole Miss in a significant way maybe forces Wallace to take some chances, and that’s when interceptions comes.

3. What’s the weak point – if there is one – in this Ole Miss defense?

For a while everyone considered it to be the run defense: Vanderbilt ran the ball a little bit on the Rebels, and ULL had nearly 200 yards rushing against Ole Miss. But short of one series against Alabama (which was entirely behind its left tackle, and in a hurry-up that did not allow for Ole Miss to change the way it was defending the run mid-series) the run defense has really stiffened up.

Tennessee had zero rushing yards last Saturday, and Texas A&M’s running game averaged less than two yards a carry. I would still say the weakness, if there is one, is downhill running. I’m just not as convinced of that as I was a month ago.

4. What’s the latest on former LSU QB signee Jeremy Liggins? What’s his role on the team and can we be expected to see him Saturday?

He’s doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Ole Miss created a heavy formation package for Liggins, which is really something: it’s six offensive linemen, a former defensive tackle playing tight end, a regular tight end, the heaviest running back and Liggins. I counted it up once and it was 3,100 pounds on the field.

Jeremy Liggins once committed to LSU from the Oxford Square. He never enrolled at LSU. (Clarion-Ledger)

Jeremy Liggins once committed to LSU from the Oxford Square. He never enrolled at LSU. (Clarion-Ledger)

Ole Miss has usually just run a QB power play out of it on third-and-short, but when it stopped working (teams loaded up against it) Ole Miss ran a sweep out of it to the back and got some yards.

The rest of the time Liggins is lining up as a tight end, where he hasn’t caught a pass yet but has stood out as the team’s best blocker. They’ll pull him through the gaps and the way he attacks guys you’d never think he was a high school quarterback.

5. Much is being made about the Ole Miss secondary. Why are they so good?

About half of it is talent: Tony Conner was the best player in the state of Mississippi in 2013 (and maybe one of the best ever to play in the Magnolia State), Cody Prewitt is an All-American and Trae Elston and Senquez Golson were both prep All-Americans.

The other half of it is just those guys really wanting it, and having strong football IQs. I didn’t mention Mike Hilton above, and that’s because he was a 5-foot-8 fringe prospect that Hugh Freeze held onto in his first recruiting class and has become defensive coordinator Dave Wommack’s favorite player.

He’s played four different positions in his career, and is starting at corner right now. Prewitt wasn’t that highly-thought of, but again it’s about football IQ and he’ll hit anything that moves.

Conner can play a lot of different roles against the run and pass during the course of a game, and Elston and Golson are both playing the best football of their careers. Going to a more attacking press man coverage has helped, but Ole Miss has not exclusively played that scheme. There’s no magic beans: just good football players who want to be great.

6. What’s the one thing Ole Miss must do well in this game to win?

They need to force this game into Anthony Jennings’ hands. I think if you’re Ole Miss you figure you’re going to score enough points, because you have all season. The special teams, especially punting, have been good, so you probably think you’re fine there.

You want to load up against the run and get into third-and-long situations where you can rush four, drop seven and make Jennings beat you. That happens and Ole Miss would like its chances, I’d bet.

LSU-Ole Miss times of interest

Billy Cannon will be one of the guest pickers before LSU kicks off against Ole Miss. (Richard Alan Hannon)

Billy Cannon will be one of the guest pickers before LSU kicks off against Ole Miss. (Richard Alan Hannon)

7 p.m.                                    Homecoming Pep Rally (Parade Ground)
8 p.m.                                    Homecoming Concert (Parade Ground)
8 a.m.                                    ESPN’s College GameDay (Parade Ground)
8:30 a.m.                               Coach Miles on ESPN College GameDay set 
8:30 a.m.                               LSU SportShop opens
11 a.m.                                  LSU Homecoming Parade (through campus)
Noon                                     Ticket office opens
3 p.m.                                    Club level and Suites open at Tiger Stadium
3:15 p.m.                              LSU Student gates open at Tiger Stadium
3:30 p.m.                              All remaining gates open at Tiger Stadium
4:10 p.m.                              LSU walks down “Victory Hill”
4:20 p.m.                              Mike VI comes down Victory Hill
4:25 p.m.                              Band comes down Victory Hill
5:46 p.m.                              Mike the Tiger and LSU Cheerleaders field parade
6:04:30 p.m.                         Golden Band from Tigerland takes the field for pregame
6:09 p.m.                              Alma Mater and National Anthem
6:15:30 p.m.                         LSU intro video
6:17 p.m.                              LSU takes the field
6:18 p.m.                              Ole Miss takes the field
6:18 p.m.                              Coin toss at midfield
6:21 p.m.                              Kickoff: LSU vs. Ole Miss on ESPN    

Former LSU QB Zach Mettenberger to start

Former LSU and current Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger is set to make his first NFL start this weekend against the Houston Texans, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt confirmed to reporters Thursday.

Zach Mettenberger is set to start for the Titans on Sunday. (AP)

Zach Mettenberger is set to start for the Titans on Sunday. (AP)

The Tennessean in Nashville, ESPN and the NFL Network all had reported the news via anonymous sources. The Tennesseean first broke the story Wednesday night. 

Mettenberger, a rookie and two-year starter for LSU in 2012 and 2013, was informed of the decision Tuesday night, the Tennessean reported.

Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns at LSU last season before suffering a torn ACL in the Tigers’ season-finale win over Arkansas. A sixth-round pick, he has played in just one game this season, the final minutes of a blowout loss against the Colts. He was 2-of-5 for 17 yards with an interception.

In preseason, Mettenberger threw for 659 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and had a 97.6 passer rating.

Mettenberger interviews with reporters later Thursday:

LSU bowl projections: Week 8

A two-game winning streak has opinions about LSU football – and its bowl prospects – trending up again.

The Tigers backed up a wild 30-27 win at Florida with a 41-3 rout of Kentucky last Saturday to run LSU’s record to 6-2 overall, 2-2 in SEC play and push the Tigers back into the top 25 at No. 24.

Six of 12 national bowl predictions have the Tigers aimed at the Taxslayer Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida. But one pick from has LSU returning to the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 to face season-opening foe Wisconsin.

Two picks have LSU in the Liberty Bowl (Dec. 29 in Houston), two in the Belk Bowl (Dec. 30 in Charlotte, North Carolina) and another in the Texas Bowl (Dec. 29 in Houston).

Bowl bids will be extended Sunday, Dec. 7, following the slotting of teams in the CFP semifinals (Sugar and Rose) and the remaining four CFP bowls (Orange, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta).

After teams are selected for the six CFP bowls and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (formerly Capital One Bowl) makes its pick, the SEC will slot its remaining bowl-eligible teams into the bowls with which the conference has ties.

The first CFP rankings will be released Oct. 28.

The win over Kentucky made LSU bowl eligible for the 15th straight season since 2000, extending an ongoing school record. Before this current run, the Tigers had never made more than five straight bowl appearances.


  • Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
  • David Ching (LSU and SEC blogger) and Adam Rittenberg (Big Ten blogger): Taxslayer Bowl vs. Wisconsin
  • Taxslayer Bowl vs. Rutgers
  • Liberty Bowl vs. Baylor
  • Brad Crawford, Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
  • Jason Kirk, Liberty Bowl vs. West Virginia
  • Brett McMurphy, Belk Bowl vs. Virginia Tech
  • Jerry Palm, Belk Bowl vs. Notre Dame
  • Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: Texas Bowl vs. West Virginia
  • Mark Schlabach, Taxslayer Bowl vs. Minnesota
  • Phil Steele, TaxSlayer Bowl vs. Iowa
  • Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin


Don’t see the likelihood of LSU making a second straight trip to the Outback Bowl, especially for a rematch from the season opener with Wisconsin. Only slightly more likely is a trip back to Houston for the Texas Bowl.

If the Tigers could somehow win out and finish 10-2, they would likely earn one of the six CFP bowl berths, but with two top-10 opponents and two tough road games left, no one is predicting that.

If LSU could split its last four games to finish 8-4, the Taxslayer Bowl continues to look like a more and more likely choice. It’s a bowl that LSU hasn’t been to since 1987 and typically takes teams with less-than-stellar records, though.

But this is new ground with the CFP and SEC making almost all of the picks. What seems likely today could be way off base by the time bowl matchups are solidified on Dec. 7.


  • Liberty Bowl: Dec. 29, Memphis
  • Texas Bowl: Dec. 29, Houston
  • Belk Bowl, Dec. 30, Charlotte
  • Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa
  • TaxSlayer Bowl: Jan. 2, Jacksonville


Wednesdays With Les: Guest picker; Corn dogs; OK State allegations; Fournette to start (?)


(Tiger TV)

LSU coach Les Miles, on Wednesdays during game weeks, speaks publicly three different times. Follow his comments here throughout the day.

Radio show

It appears that LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette will get his third straight start in Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, Les Miles suggested Wednesday night.

“I think you’ll look forward to seeing Leonard as the starter,” the coach said on his radio show.

Fournette started against Florida (and ran for 140 yards) and started against Kentucky (and ran for 40 yards). Miles said coaches have been looking to run Fournette often early in games, but that they choose the hot hand – LSU uses four different backs – as the game progresses.

  • Miles again (see in post-practice) touched on the Katy Perry-corn dog fiasco: “She has a difficult time smelling. I’ve been around here a long time … no corn dogs.”
  • A caller asked Miles if he’d “shake” the cage of Mike VI, LSU’s live bengal tiger, as to convince him to come out for the game against Ole Miss. Mike VI hasn’t emerged from his cage and onto a mobile unit for any of LSU’s first five home games. It’s tradition for Mike to be paraded around the field before each home game in his mobile cage. Said Miles: “I certainly have a way with him. He and I have connected several times.”
  • Miles sounds, somewhat, tired of being told how many rushing yards Tennessee had against Ole Miss last week (zero). His response to a caller that again brought it up: “We’re not Tennessee, first of all.”
  • Miles suggested that this hit on Kendell Beckwith – which LSU sent to the SEC  to review – would not or was not ruled targeting by the league. “We thought it was definitely a chargeable issue. I think there’s certain criteria this met and certain it didn’t,” the coach said.
  • Hugh Freeze, the Ole Miss coach, said at SEC media days this past summer that his daughter’s favorite coach was Les Miles. Miles son the Freezes: “Seems to be like a wonderful family unit.”
  • Miles retracted earlier comments made Monday telling fans to bring food into Tiger Stadium. “I guess you can’t bring food in. I didn’t know that.”


LSU coach Les Miles would like to see Shaquille O’Neal be the guest picker on ESPN College GameDay, and he’s never smelled corn dogs in Tiger Stadium.

We’ll explain all of this.

Miles, in his post-practice press conference, was asked who he’d suggest as a guest picker for GameDay. He responded with Shaq, the former LSU and NBA star. A team spokesman confirmed after the press conference that Shaq will not be the guest picker because he has a previous engagement scheduled.

“I’d pick Shaq in every way, in one on one and picking,” he said, referring to a basketball one-on-one contest.

As for the corn dogs: remember this? Miles was asked about that stunt from Katy Perry:

“She likes corn dogs?”

[More explanation is given to Miles]

“Oh no she didn’t.”

[More explanation, specifically about the smell of corn dogs in and around Tiger Stadium]

“I guess there’s thing to talk about that are important and things that are not. I’d have to say people would make observations about how other people smell based on the fact that their nose doesn’t work well. If that’s the issue ….

“I want you to know one thing. I have gone into Tiger Stadium and never smelled corn dogs.”

  • The NCAA found allegations surrounding the Oklahoma State football program while Les Miles was coach “fundamentally unfounded.” In a series last fall, Sports Illustrated reported multiple allegations of wrongdoings during Miles’ tenure at the school (2001-04). Miles was asked about it Wednesday. “It was never any part of my experience at Oklahoma State,” Miles said. “Glad it’s ended the way it has.”
  • Miles said LSU players have more “pep in their step” and “spirit” at practice this week and Wednesday.

SEC teleconference

Anthony Jennings has more understanding for the quarterback position after his benching in the game at Auburn, coach Les Miles said.

Miles was asked about Jennings being benched at Auburn, a 41-7 loss in which true freshman Brandon Harris started.

“Benched is not necessarily the word,” Miles said. “More or less, the evolution of the position, if you will. I think him understanding competition and understanding what all needed to be done at the quarterback spot certainly is improved. Not only his abilities but Brandon Harris as well.”

  • LSU players have been reminded this week of last season’s 27-24 loss in Oxford. “The most recent past is something we’ve reviewed. I’m certain our guys recognize that game.”
  • Ole Miss is a team that’s good in all three phases of the game, Miles said. He called the Rebels “very talented” and said they have a good concept on defense and physicality.
  • The win at Florida has seemed to spark this LSU team. Said Miles about that: “I think our football team was ready to go to The Swamp and win. I think there’s some maturity here that provides some quality leadership in some of those young guys. They understood what was expected. That’s an example of how we can play. Kentucky then is an example of how we can play at all.”


LSU in the NFL: Week 7

Here’s the complete list of LSU players on NFL rosters through Week 7:

Name, Years at LSU, Team, Position, Week 4, Status/stats, Season

Joe Barksdale, 2007-10, St., Louis, Rams, OT, Season: started all games

Lamin Barrow, 2009-13, Denver Broncos, LB, W7: no stats, Season: 4 tackles

Odell Beckham Jr., 2011-13, New York Giants, WR, W7: 4 rec., 34 yds., 2 TDs, 1 rush, 13 yds., Season: 10-106 receiving, 3 TDs, 1-13 rushing

Alfred Blue, 2010-13, Houston Texans, RB, W7: 5-14 rushing, 1-11 receiving, Season: 47-179 rushing, 4-37 receiving, blocked punt (TD), 1 FR, 1 tackle

Kadron Boone, 2010-13, St. Louis Rams, WR, W7: Signed to practice squad

Dwayne Bowe, 2003-06, Kansas City Chiefs, WR, W7: 5-84 receiving, Season: 19-279

Michael Brockers, 2009-11, St. Louis Rams, DT, W7: 2 tackles, 1 PBU, Season: 6 tackles, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 1 PBU

Ron Brooks, 2007-11, Buffalo Bills, CB, W7: 2 tackles, Season: 5 tackles

Morris Claiborne, 2009-11, Dallas Cowboys, CB, Injured reserve, Season: 7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH, 2 PBU

Ryan Clark, 1997-2001, Washington Redskins, FS, W7: 2 tackles, Season: 39 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 PBU

Glenn Dorsey, 2004-07, San Francisco 49ers, DT, Injured reserve/Designated to return list

Lavar Edwards, 2008-12, Dallas Cowboys, DE, W7: 1 tackle, Season: 1 tackle

Ego Ferguson, 2010-13, Chicago Bears, DT, W7: 2 tackles, Season: 9 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QBH, 2 PBU

Matt Flynn, 2003-07, Green Bay Packers, QB, W7: 0-2 passing, Season: 3-7, 22 yds., 1 INT; 1-(-1) rushing

Jeremy Hill, 2012-13, Cincinnati Bengals, RB, W7: 4-15 rushing, Season: 40-170 rushing, 3 TDs, 9-83 receiving

Trindon Holliday, 2006-09, TampaBay Buccaneers, WR/RS, W7: Signed by TampaBay Buccaneers

Tyson Jackson, 2004-08, Atlanta Falcons, DE, W7: 2 tackles, Season: 14 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU

Ricky Jean-Francois, 2005-08, Indianapolis Colts, DT, W7: 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QBH; Season: 15 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 QBH, 3 PBU, 1 FR

Anthony Johnson, 2011-13, Miami Dolphins, DT, W7: Inactive, Season: 1 tackle, 1 QBH, 1 FR

Donnie Jones, 2000-03, Philadelphia Eagles, P, W7: Bye, Season: 24 punts, 44.0 avg.

Brandon LaFell, 2005-09, New England Patriots, WR, W7: 4-55 receiving, Season: 19-337 receiving, 3 TDs

Jarvis Landry, 2011-13, Miami Dolphins, WR, W7: 4-46 receiving, 2 KR, 55 yds., 1 PR, 22 yds., Season: 22-232 receiving, 1 TD, 2 tackles, 16 KR, 433 yds., 11 PR, 73 yds.

LaRon Landry, 2003-06, Indianapolis Colts, S, W5-8: suspended, Season: 23 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QBH

Bennie Logan, 2009-12, Philadelphia Eagles, DT, W7: Bye, Season: 24 tackles, 2 TFL

Craig Loston, 2009-13, Jacksonville Jaguars, S, W7: no stats, Season: 1 tackle

Tyrann Mathieu, 2010-11, Arizona Cardinals, DB, W7: 1 tackle, Season: 12 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 PBU, 1 FR

Danny McCray, 2006-09, Chicago Bears, S, W7: 1 tackle, Season: 17 tackles, 1 FR, 1 tackle

Zach Mettenberger, 2011-13, Tennessee Titans, QB, W7: did not play, Season: 2-5, 17 passing, 1 INT

Barkevious Mingo, 2010-12, Cleveland Browns, LB, W7: 3 tackles, Season: 15 tackles

Kevin,Minter, 2009-12, Arizona Cardinals, LB, W7: 3 tackles, Season: 16 tackles, 1 TFL

Sam, Montgomery, 2009-12, Cincinnati Bengals, LB, W7: pactice squad, Season: practice squad

Patrick Peterson, 2008-10, Arizona Cardinals, CB/RS, W7: 2 tackles, Season: 16 tackles, 1, PBU

Rueben Randle, 2009-11, New York Giants, WR, W7: 6-74 receiving, Season: 34-321 receiving, 3 TDs

Eric Reid, 2010-12, San Francisco 49ers, S, W7: no stats, Season: 13 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU

Stevan Ridley, 2007-10, New England Patriots, RB, Placed on Injured Reserve, Season: 94-340 rushing, 2 TDs, 4-20 receiving

Perry Riley Jr., 2006-09, Washington, Redskins, LB, W7: Inactive, Season: 30 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFl

Russell Shepard, 2009-12, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR, W7: Bye, Season: 2-30 receiving, 6 tackles

Kelvin Sheppard, 2006-10, Miami Dolphins, LB, W7: no stats, Season: 5 tackles

Tharold Simon, 2010-12, Seattle Seahawks, CB, W7: 1 tackle, Season: 1 tackle

Trai Turner, 2011-13, Carolina Panthers, OG, Season: started all games

Andrew Whitworth, 2002-05, Cincinnati Bengals, OG, Season: started all games

Kyle Williams, 2002-05, Buffalo, Bills, DT, W7: 5 tackles, 1 QBH, Season: 16 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 4 QBH

Brad Wing, 2010-12, Pittsburgh Steelers, P, W7: 4 punts, 44.0 average, Season: 33 punts, 44.1 avg.

Al Woods, 2006-09, Tennessee Titans, DT, W7: 2 tackles, Season: 12 tackles

James Wright, 2010-13, Cincinnati Bengals, WR, W7: No stats, Season: 1-24 receiving, 1 tackle

On NFL roster in 2014, but not currently 

Kendrick Adams, 2010-11, n/a, LB, P3: Waived by Titans

J.C. Copeland, 2010-13, n/a, FB, P4: Released by Cowboys

Chris Faulk, 2010-12, n/a, OL, Waived by Browns on July 29

Michael Ford, 2009-12, n/a, RB, P4: Waived by Bears

Drake Nevis, 2007-10, n/a, DT, Waived by Panthers on Aug. 30

Craig Steltz, 2004-07, n/a, S, P3: Released by Bears

Curtis Taylor, 2004-08, n/a, S, P4: Waived by Cardinals on Aug. 30

Spencer Ware, 2010-12, n/a, RB, P4: Waived by Seahawks on Aug. 30

Keiland Williams, 2006-09, n/a, RB, free agent


Twitter Mailbag: Growth of a QB; Running it on Ole Miss; The betting line

Leonard Fournette and LSU's run game is needed against Ole Miss. (Travis Spradling)

Leonard Fournette and LSU’s run game is needed against Ole Miss. (Travis Spradling)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

These two teams are drastically different – Ole Miss and Kentucky. The Rebels are No. 3 in the nation, and some folks believe they’re the best in the land. Kentucky had an impressive start to the season, but what kind of start would it have been had they not been named “Kentucky”?

LSU is on a bit of a hot spurt here. A dramatic SEC road win at Florida and a pounding home win over Kentucky has the Tigers feeling good heading into the duel against Ole Miss. Don’t expect another 38-point win, but LSU’s momentum might be enough to carry it to a victory as an underdog in Tiger Stadium – a rarity.

Not exactly sure what you mean by “classify,” but QB growth is something we haven’t quite seen – at least consistent growth. Anthony Jennings had, maybe, the best game against a power five conference team at Florida, but he followed it with a struggling performance against Kentucky.

Jennings had trouble with accuracy – even the short passes. Terrence Magee needed a one-handed catch to haul in a pass a yard behind him, and Jennings overthrew a would-be touchdown to FB Connor Neighbors.

So what needs to happen? I’m not sure. LSU has, as you mentioned, just four games remaining this season and all against SEC teams. The tinkering part of the schedule is over. Gotta play the hand you’re dealt. LSU coaches have lately given Jennings some easy, high-percentage passes to the running backs. Look for that to continue.

Bet your bottom dollar on that. No matter who the opponent and what the game, LSU will run the football. When they’re done running it, they’ll run it again. And guess what after that?

LSU runs the football more than any other team in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers run 68 percent of the time. Just three other SEC teams run more than 60 percent of the time. If there’s anything LSU will do against an Ole Miss team leading the nation in interceptions, it’s run the ball.

Next question.

Tennessee had zero rushing yards in a 34-3 loss to the Rebels in Oxford last week. That’s disheartening for LSU fans. Ole Miss ranks sixth nationally in rushing defense, averaging less than 100 yards on the ground game, and LSU is 120th nationally in pass attempts a game.

This is a key matchup in the game: Can LSU’s ground-and-pound offense have success against an Ole Miss defense that does everything well, namely stopping the run? Les Miles and Co. will try to run it no matter what – no doubt about that.

Well, sure, but will LSU coaches allow it? As a betting man, I’d say no. LSU will try to control the clock, pound the ball and play good defense. The Tigers will hope to rattle Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace and force turnovers. LSU’s best defense might be the best offense in this one.

LSU isn’t gonna all of the sudden chunk the ball around just because an opponent’s front seven is good. Don’t expect that to happen. Jennings hasn’t thrown more than 26 passes this season – and that was in a game LSU trailed 17-0 early.

I’d expect most of them to stay, and I haven’t heard any rumblings of anyone leaving, though that always happens.

Here’s something you might not know: LSU is 45-4 in Saturday night games in Tiger Stadium under coach Les Miles. That explains part of the low spread for the Rebels.

Remember, too, that Ole Miss was an underdog at Texas A&M. Basically, Vegas isn’t sold on the Rebels just yet, despite their 7-0 record.

This is such a broad question, I don’t know where to start. I’ll say this though: I’d be surprised if Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris were both here in 2016.

Sione Teuhema. I know, crazy right? Teuhema is a true freshman defensive end who sees limited snaps, but they’re big ones. LSU has a new package featuring Teuhema at defensive tackle in the Mustang, the Tigers’ six DB unit with three defensive linemen.

LSU got QB pressure against Kentucky, in part because of Teuhema’s inside pressure. Watch out for him against Ole Miss.

It won’t be easy, but it’s been done before. Louisiana-Lafayette and Alabama both ran for more than 165 yards against Ole Miss. The Tigers might need to run for 200-plus against the Rebels to get the win. That’d be unprecedented this season.

Film Room: LSU 41, Kentucky 3

Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.

(click photos to enlarge)

How They Happened (big-play analysis)

Punt return to the house: In the first quarter, Tre’Davious White returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown to give LSU a 17-0 lead.WhitePunt

  • As you see above, Kentucky had seven men to the left hash when White caught the punt. That means four UK players – including the punter – were left down the field to possibly make the tackles. Give credit to White here. He started the play by taking a step toward the group of six UK players bunched in front of him and then wheeled around them (red line). That one step really sparks the play because the entire group closes around him.
  • See the black circle? That’s safety Jamal Adams. He’s a second away from delivering the knockout punch, a springing block that had Brent Musburger screaming on the live broadcast. Adams is just one of three players who get key blocks on this play. While running down the right sideline, White got blocks from linebackers Deion Jones and D.J. Welter.
  • Said Adams about that block: “I peeled back, seen him and he didn’t see me so I laid the wood on him.” Adams said he told White before the play to look for him blocking down the middle of the field. “He trusted me,” Adams said. Adams’ block:

Another shot:

Hunting Hunter: On fourth-and-2 from the LSU 29-yard line, Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp lost two yards after being hit in the backfield by defensive end Danielle Hunter.

  • First off, it should be noted that Hunter was not on the field for the fourth-down play at first. Kentucky used a timeout before the fourth-down try. Freshman DE Deondre Clark was on the field before the timeout. Hunter replaced Clark when LSU retook the field for the fourth-down attempt. He lined up on the right side, over 290-pound left tackle Darrian Miller.UK4th2
  • Hunter (red arrow) is the key to the play. He took on two blockers (numbers 1 and 2), splitting them to make the tackle for loss. First, he completely whipped Miller (No. 2) in a one-on-one matchup, slipping to his inside. After that, Hunter plowed through the pulling backside guard, 300-pound Ramsey Meyers (No. 1).UK4th
  • LSU loaded the box on the play (see photo to the right). At snap, the Tigers had nine players in the box, and Kentucky had eight blockers. LB Kwon Alexander crept up to the line to give LSU about six players on the line of scrimmage. Alexander rushed just outside of Hunter. The UK FB must block Alexander instead of leading into the hole.

Old school football: Late in the third quarter, Terrence Magee had runs of 35 and 23 yards, the latter for a touchdown to put LSU up 41-3.

  • Both of Magee’s back-to-back runs came via solid blocking by the offensive line and FB Connor Neighbors. Magee’s 35-yard run came to the right side with Neighbors leading through the hole. His 23-yard touchdown came to the left side, on a stretch play, with Neighbors leading through the hole.MageeRun
  • Above, you see a fine example of blocking on Magee’s 35-yard scamper to the right side. This is just a simple power play off-tackle. Three key blocks led to the long run: Neighbors (red circle), center Elliott Porter (yellow circle) and Vadal Alexander (black circle). They each won one-on-one matchups.
  • Give credit, of course, to Magee’s vision and speed on both plays but specifically the 35-yarder. Neighbors creates a hole, but it’s not huge. Magee slipped around Neighbors’ back foot (he nearly hits it and trips), squirting through the seam. That’s something big Leonard Fournette might not have been able to do.

What an opener: Terrence Magee returned the opening kickoff 49 yards to set up LSU’s game-opening touchdown.

  • Kentucky faked what appeared to be an onside kick. Just before the kick, the Wildcats shuffled their alignment, but then kicked away. The problem: the kick was short because the kicker didn’t get a full running start. MageeTD
  • Credit Magee here for a great cutback. He sees the hole and has quick enough feet to cut left and slip through the hole. Deion Jones (circled) gets a key block on the play.

Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)

  • LSU did run for more than 300 yards, but the offensive line had several blips. Most of them came from center Elliott Porter. We charted him for 3-4 blips (missed blocks that result in a poor play). Pass protection was better than it was against Florida, but, still, there were at least three pass-pro busts by the line – one coming from each Porter, Ethan Pocic, Vadal Alexander and La’el Collins (though Collins’ was less severe).
  • On the plus side, there were plenty of booms (springing blocks that lead to positive plays). Collins had three booms and Alexander had two. All of this happened in the first three quarters. Subs entered in the fourth quarter, a period in which we did not break down.

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

  • Anthony Jennings followed his best performance against a major conference team – at Florida last week – with, maybe, his worst. It was a struggle. Jennings had about five misfires (so, basically, he was at fault for most of his incompletions). Excluding those misfires, there was a communication issue between him and a receiver once. It’s unclear who to to blame on that play.
  • Jennings held the ball for far too long. The pass protection, as mentioned above, was pretty solid. Jennings just can’t seem to find an open guy. And they were open. He missed a wide open Trey Quinn early in the game, and he threw a bad pass to Connor Neighbors on what would have been a touchdown. He overthrew Malachi Dupre, underthrew Travin Dural once and heaved a few out of bounds.
  • Brandon Harris saw only mop-up duty. Something we didn’t see more from Jennings is designed runs, the zone-read, etc. Even color analyst Jesse Palmer mentions the lack of QB runs for Jennings.

Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)

  • Leonard Fournette had some issues. He had 15 carries and averaged just 2.7 yards. Again, vision seems to be an issue. When LSU went to Terrence Magee in the second half, there was a pretty clear difference in the vision of the running back. Fournette is still not seeing the holes well, but there’s a reason for this: sometimes there wasn’t a hole. Kentucky knew when Fournette was in the backfield, and they loaded the box.
  • Something interesting about Fournette: LSU coaches promised him in high school (during recruiting) that he’d return kickoffs, said play-by-play man Brent Musburger. Fournette has developed into LSU’s lead back and there were thoughts that he’d be removed from the kickoff team.
  • No. 2 fullback Melvin Jones played a second straight solid game. He had at least four booms, and Connor Neighbors had 2-3 booms in his return to the field.MageeCatch
  • Magee played tremendous. He made some nifty moves, made a one-handed catch (check it out to the right) and kept those legs churning through defenders.

Five-yard Out (WR analysis)

  • Malachi Dupre had the only drop. He also had a boom, though, on a Jennings designed run that picked up 10-plus yards and a first down.
  • The receivers were mainly removed from this game. After all, Jennings only completed seven passes and all but two were to someone other than a receiver (both went to Dural).

Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)

  • Here’s where LSU won the game. The Tigers dominated up front in their best performance of the season. They had 13 QB pressures in the first three quarters. DEs Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter each had two. Hunter had four attacks (an exceptional defensive play that resulted in a poor offensive play). He had the best game of his season so far.
  • Bellow are examples of Hunter’s speed and then Rasco’s perseverance:

  • The Tigers are doing some different things, it appears, to get pressure on the quarterback. It looks to be working. First off, freshman DE Sione Teuhema played at the one DT spot in the Mustang package, LSU’s pass-rush down that includes three linemen. On one Mustang, Hunter played the DT spot. Basically, what we’re telling you is that LSU is removing its defensive tackles in the Mustang and that’s somewhat new.MustangPressure
  • To the right is one example of LSU pressuring the QB from the Mustang with Teuhema at the DT spot. Teuhema rolls around Rasco and LB Deion Jones wheels around the end. LSU overloads the right side and it works.
  • As for the other linebackers, Kendell Beckwith missed two tackles, but he seemed to fly around to the ball well. Kwon Alexander was often caught on the backside of the play. It looks like Kentucky ran many plays away from him – a wise move. Kentucky ran its Wildcat four times in the first three quarters. It gained six yards. That’s a good reflection on the linebackers.
  • Hey, speaking of Beckwith, here’s that hit on him in the third quarter. He gets up wobbly, but came to postgame interviews and said he was OK:

Break It Up (DB analysis)

  • Two words: Jamal. Adams. He had the best game of his career so far. The true freshman had about a half-dozen kills (attacks plus pressures). In the Mustang, he’s the pass-rusher, and he’s quick, too. Check out the shot below.

  • Adams appears to have moved into one of the two safety roles when LSU switches to the nickel defense. The nickelback is Jalen Mills, and the safeties are Adams and Ronald Martin or Rickey Jefferson. Adams was expected to replace Dwayne Thomas (out for the season) at the nickel, but Mills has moved into the role with Adams in for Mills at safety.

The fans

We’ll leave you with this shot taken midway through the third quarter of the LSU student section.


Photos and video courtesy of ESPN/SEC Network.