It's GameDay: LSU Looks to Continue Chick-fil-A Bowl Prowess
ATLANTA -- After nearly a month of practice, including five workouts here in Atlanta, LSU will finally get the opportunity to face 14th-ranked Georgia Tech and its triple-option attack when the teams square off at 7:35 EST at the Georgia Dome.
The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Bob Griese, Brad Nessler, Paul McGuire and Jack Arute handling the call. The game will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network with Jim Hawthorne, Doug Moreau and Greg Bowser calling the action.
LSU brings a 7-5 overall mark into the contest, while the Yellow Jackets are 9-3. It’s the first meeting between the former Southeastern Conference foes since a 28-14 LSU victory in the 2000 Peach Bowl.
For LSU, tonight’s game presents and opportunity for the Tigers to end their season on a positive note. LSU goes into the contest having lost three of its last four games but a victory over Georgia Tech will give the Tigers eight wins for a school-record nine straight years.
“This game presents a great challenge for us but also provides us with an opportunity to finish our season on a positive note,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We have prepared well and I think our team is ready to go out and play well. We are as healthy as we’ve been since the start of the season and I look for us to play fast and play LSU football.”
If the Tigers are to have success, it will start first with defense as LSU must be able to defend Tech’s triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets come into the game averaging 282.3 yards rushing per contest, a figure that ranks third nationally.
Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt makes the offense run as he ranks eighth in the ACC in rushing with 631 yards and seven TDs, while adding another 658 passing yards for the Yellow Jackets. Running back Jonathan Dwyer leads the Jackets with 1,328 yards and 12 TDs in 12 games this year.
The third piece of the triple-option attack is that of running back Roddy Jones, who has rushed for 658 yards and four TDs. Jones is averaging 9.1 yards per carry, while Dwyer is averaging 7.0 yards per rush.
Tech seldom throws the ball but when they do, they have had good results as Nesbitt completes 50 percent of his passes with his top target being that of Demaryius Thomas. Thomas has 36 of Tech’s 66 catches this year for 595 yards and three touchdowns.
“We have to play very disciplined, assignment football,” Miles said. “They are going to run it, run it and run it some more, but we have to also be ready to defend the pass. This offense is unlike anything we have faced all year, but I think we have prepared well and our players understand their assignments.”
As a result of Tech’s triple-option attack, LSU will likely play its base defense for the majority of the game with the Tigers going with a straight 4-3 front along with four players in the secondary – two corners and two safeties.
Offensively, Miles and Gary Crowton have turned the offense over to true freshman Jordan Jefferson, who will be making just his second start of his career. Jefferson has big play potential with both his arm and his legs and he brings an added dimension to the Tiger offense. In just two games of extensive action, Jefferson has thrown for 277 yards and three touchdowns and he’s added another 109 yards and one score on the ground.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee has recovered from an ankle injury that kept him out of the second half against Ole Miss and the entire Arkansas contest. Lee, who started eight games, has thrown for 1,873 yards and 14 TDs for the Tigers in what has been one of the most productive rookie seasons in school history.
One of the keys to success for LSU will be its ability to run the ball and that starts with an offensive line that is finally healthy after being slowed for most of the second half of the season. The beneficiary should be that of junior running back Charles Scott, who has rushed for 1,109 yards and 15 scores for the Tigers. Other backs expected to get touches for the Tigers included Keiland Williams (375 yards, 1 TD), Richard Murphy (175 yards) and Trindon Holliday (95 yards).
When the Tigers turn to the passing game, junior Brandon LaFell, senior Demetrius Byrd, and tight end Richard Dickson have been the top targets for LSU quarterbacks this year. LaFell leads the team and ranks among the leaders in the SEC with 61 catches for 903 yards and eight TDs.
Byrd has 34 receptions for 503 yards and four scores and Dickson has turned into one of the most prolific tight ends in school history with 27 catches this season for 274 yards and four TDs.
Tonight’s game will also serve as the final contest for LSU’s 19 seniors, a group that has been part of 50 victories as well as capturing the 2007 national title during their stay in Baton Rouge. In addition, 13 of the 19 seniors have graduated from the school.
“This game also gives us a chance to send our senior class out on a winning note,” Miles said. “This group of 19 seniors has been part of some great moments in the history of LSU football and it would be nice to send them out with a win.”