Preview: Football Returns to Action Against Eagles
Assoc. Athletic Director/Communications
BATON ROUGE – LSU will get a tough non-conference test on Saturday when Southern Miss and its explosive offense comes to Tiger Stadium to face the 25th-ranked Tigers and their stingy defense.
Kickoff between the Tigers and Golden Eagles is slated for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network with Clay Matvick (play by play), Dusty Dvoracek (analyst) and Alex Corddry (sideline reporter) calling the action.
The game will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network with the Voice of the Tigers Chris Blair, Doug Moreau (analyst) and Gordy Rush (sideline reporter) calling the action. The game can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on Eagle 98.1 FM or on the internet for free exclusively at www.LSUsports.net/live.
The Southern Miss contest will be second for LSU under new head coach Ed Orgeron, who took over for Les Miles following the Auburn loss three weeks ago. Orgeron guided the Tigers to a 42-7 win over Missouri in his first game as LSU rolled up 634 yards of offense in the victory over Mizzou.
LSU brings a 3-2 overall mark into the contest and the Tigers are 2-1 in Southeastern Conference action. LSU has won 46 consecutive games against non-conference opponents in Tiger Stadium, a streak that dates back to the 2000 season.
Southern Miss, under first year coach Jay Hopson, is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Conference USA action. The Golden Eagles opened the season with a 44-35 win over Kentucky as they won four of their first five games. Last week, former LSU assistant Frank Wilson and his Texas-San Antonio team beat Southern Miss, 55-32, at the Alamodome.
LSU and Southern Miss have split its two previous meetings. The Tigers won the first game between the teams, 13-0, in Baton Rouge in 1951. The Golden Eagles kicked a 52-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter in a 20-18 win over LSU in Tiger Stadium in 1994 in what proved to be Curley Hallman’s final game as head coach off the Tigers.
When LSU has the ball….
The Tigers will look to build on the outstanding performance the offense produced against Missouri two week ago when LSU totaled 634 yards, the most ever for the school in a conference game. In that contest, LSU had two backs go over 100-yards rushing (Derrius Guice 163 yards, 3 TDs; Darrel Williams 130 yards, 3 TDs) as the Tigers racked up 418 yards on the ground.
Overall, LSU is averaging 25.2 points and 398.4 total yards per game (237.0 rushing, 161.4 passing). Junior quarterback Danny Etling will start his fourth game at LSU on Saturday and he’s gone three games and 90 consecutive passes without an interception. For the year, Etling has connected on 59-of-101 attempts for 649 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception.
Etling’s top target is that of senior Travin Dural, who leads the Tigers with 18 receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown. Against Missouri, nine different players caught passes for LSU, including Malachi Dupre, who is second on the team with 15 catches for 136 yards.
LSU will once again be without the services of junior Leonard Fournette, who continues to nurse a sore ankle. Fournette has played in three games this year and has 386 yards and two touchdowns to his credit. Guice leads the Tigers with 402 yard and four touchdowns.
LSU vs. Southern Miss
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LSU vs. Ole Miss
The Tigers will face a Golden Eagle defense that is allowing 27.0 points and 315.8 total yards (159.5 rushing, 156.3 passing) per game. Last week against Texas-San Antonio, Southern Miss gave up a whopping 339 rushing yards in the loss to the Roadrunners.
In six games, Southern Miss has registered 19 sacks and been credited with 13 quarterback hurries. Southern Miss, which has had 10 different players credited with a sack, is led by nose tackle Dylan Bradley with 39 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks – all team highs.
When Southern Miss has the ball….
For the second straight game, LSU will have to defend an explosive offense led by a veteran quarterback. The Golden Eagles, behind senior quarterback Nick Mullens, are averaging 40.2 points and 532.2 total yards (213.5 rushing, 318.7 passing) per game.
Mullens has completed 123-of-210 passes for 1,874 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while running back Ito Smith has rushed for 711 yards and six touchdowns and he’s averaging 118.5 yards on the ground per game.
The Golden Eagles haven’t seen a defense like LSU’s this year as the Tigers have given up just five touchdowns all season and they are allowing only 14.8 points per game. The Tigers have also been good about getting off to a quick start as LSU has given up only three first quarter points all season. Overall, LSU is No. 3 in the SEC in total defense (326.0 yards per game) and No. 3 in the league in rushing defense (108.2 yards per game).
The Tigers are also among the best in the nation in redzone touchdowns, allowing only three all season, and LSU is holding opponents to just 29.6 percent on third-down conversions (23-of-79).
Linebacker Kendell Beckwith leads LSU in tackles with 43, while outside linebacker/defensive end Arden Key leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation with 7.0 sacks. Other defensive standouts for LSU include safety Jamal Adams (34 tackles), linebacker Duke Riley (33 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss), defensive end Davon Godchaux (23 tackles, 3.0 sacks) and cornerback Tre’Davious White (14 tackles, 2 interceptions).
The Tigers will be without the services of safety Rickey Jefferson (22 tackles, 1 interception), who suffered a broken leg in practice this week. John Battle (8 tackles, 1 pass breakup) will start in Jefferson’s place in the secondary on Saturday.
Coach Orgeron’s thoughts on the game….
“It’s been an excellent week of practice. Our guys are ready to play in a big home game. We know the fans are going to be electric. Southern Miss is going to come to play their best football. We are focused on us. I think we had a good two weeks of preparation. Our goal is to play a great game Saturday night and to get better than we were last week and make improvements in a lot of areas.”
LSU returns to action next week at 8 p.m. when the Tigers host Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium.