BATON ROUGE -- The focus on the LSU practice field this week has been correcting mistakes made in last week's game against Florida, while also realizing that there is still a lot of football to be played and a great deal to play for as six games remain on the Tiger schedule.
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The Tigers open the second half of their season on Saturday when they host unranked Kentucky at 7 p.m. in Tiger Stadium. There will be no live television for the game. LSU, which has won nine straight games in Tiger Stadium, brings a 4-2 overall mark and a 1-2 conference record into the game. The Wildcats are 3-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.
For LSU, a preseason top 10 team, the goal for the remaining six games is to improve each time out and go into the Arkansas contest with something to play for other than “The Boot”. For the Wildcats, they go into their final six games needing wins in three of them to secure the school’s first bowl bid since the 1999 season.
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“We need to make sure we’re improving and looking forward to each opponent and get to the end of the season and see what’s out there for us. I’m not so certain that you can’t be a BCS team with two losses. But first things first; it’s Kentucky.”
Against Kentucky, the Tigers will face a squad with a powerful offense and a talented quarterback, but with a defense that ranks among the lowest in the nation in yards allowed. In six games, the Wildcats are allowing 448 yards and 27.7 points per game.
Offensively, the Wildcats will have to rely on the arm of quarterback Andre’ Woodson, who ranks second in the SEC and 14th in the nation in pass yards with 247 per game. Woodson has thrown three or more touchdown passes in four games this year and he leads the league with 15 to his credit.
The Wildcats may be forced to go to the air more than usual on Saturday as they will be without their top running back in Rafael Little, who will miss the contest after undergoing minor knee surgery earlier this week. In six games, Little has rushed for 286 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats. Little’s absence also takes a bite out of the Wildcats’ special teams as he leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation in punt returns with a 19.4 average.
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LSU vs. Kentucky
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“This is a good Kentucky team,” Miles said. “They are very well coached and they will come in here with a good plan. They have a very good quarterback and they do a great job of throwing the football.”
For the Tigers, LSU will once again look for balance on offense as they continue to try to establish the running game to go with what has been one of the SEC’s most productive passing games. Despite struggling with the running game at times, LSU is still second in the SEC in scoring offense (33.3 points per game) and third in total offense (396 yards per game).
Offensively, the Tigers will continue to ride the passing arm of quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who has thrown for 1,474 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. Russell ranks second in the SEC and 11th in the nation in pass efficiency with a 164.8 rating.
Russell has the luxury of throwing to three of the top receivers in the league led by senior Craig Davis, who has 33 catches for 479 yards and one touchdown. Senior Dwayne Bowe is second on the squad with 27 receptions for 403 yards and three scores, while junior Early Doucet has 23 catches for 340 yards and a team-high four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Tigers will counter the Kentucky offensive attack with one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. LSU is first in the nation in total defense, allowing only 209.2 yards per game and they third in scoring, yielding just 10.0 points per game.
One key to the contest will be that of turnovers as LSU is ranked among the league and national leaders in interceptions with 10 this year. Kentucky, however, is even better at protecting the ball as the Wildcats are plus-8 in the turnover margin category as they have 15 takeaways compared to just seven turnovers.
“We’ve worked hard this week on some things that needed work,” Miles said. “The players have had a great attitude this week. We want to play like we are capable of and we didn’t do that last Saturday. We have improved this week and we expect to play much better against Kentucky.”