Scouting Auburn-LSU, 9/19
So despite penning this blog and all my stories with Apple equipment, maybe I'll break from Steve Jobs' grasp on this one. Or maybe not. I'm so confused.
I'm not foggy about tomorrow's football game. Here is a gander at how I see this matchup -- it's sure to anger fans on both sides, as usual -- which should make Saturday night a lot of fun for everyone. Even Lou Holtz.
POSITION BY POSITION
LSU is playing two guys, Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch, and trying to find the superior option. Sound familiar? There is a difference. They're both pretty good. Does Auburn have one good quarterback?
Ben Tate may not have breath-taking speed, but he's a tough guy who makes the most of his opportunities. He's a gifted receiver. LSU has a lot of talent back here. It's a tough call, but I'm still siding with Tate.
Not close at all. LSU has Brandon LaFell and Demetrius Byrd, who are NFL-type players. Does Auburn have anyone who can seize control of a game? Montez Billings can jump. Does he have other skills?
Auburn had an uncharacteristically poor performance at LSU, complete with nine penalties for the offensive line. The Pugh-for-Bosley switch doesn't seem like a long-term upgrade. Meanwhile, LSU's guys are experienced and playing well as a group.
I think Auburn has the SEC's best group up front, but LSU is outstanding as well. Ricky Jean-Francois is a stud. Tyson Jackson is a stud. It's just that Auburn has a lot of studs, too, and has slightly more depth. If you consider both teams' supply, there are at least six future NFL guys playing here tonight.
LSU's top guy here, Darry Beckwith, is out with a knee injury. That compromises the Bayou Bengals to some degree. His backup, Jacob Cutrera, has experience. Still, Auburn has five guys who are legitimate SEC starters.
This is a toss-up. Both teams have excellent players back here. I'm going with LSU because of its superior depth. Sophomore S Chad Jones played really well last week and freshman CB Phelon Jones -- a Mobile native -- could be a guy worth watching this season.
Colt David is an outstanding kicker who is locked in right now. Trindon Holliday is a bigger threat than Robert Dunn. Auburn seemed shaky here against MSU. Check to LSU.
A lot of people think Les Miles is crazy. He's a risk-taker, no doubt, and that will cause problems at some point. He's still the defending national champion. He's still undefeated. He's still the top guy until someone knocks him down.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Charles Scott (No. 32)
5-11, 233, Jr.
Last week: 7 carries for 102 yards, 2 TDs (vs. North Texas)
Scouting report: He's the kind of guy Auburn would love to have. Scott is stout guy who isn't afraid to dole out some hits against unsuspecting tacklers. He's the definition of a physical back. He has more speed than you'd expect from a guy with that kind of body, though he won't be running track for LSU anytime soon. Scott doesn't seem to tire. He's also a dedicated blocker who has nice hands.
QB Chris Todd (No. 12)
6-4, 212, Jr.
Last week: 14-of-26 for 154 yards (vs. Miss. State)
Scouting report: The eyes of Auburn fans will be focused on Todd today. He was signed eight months ago to bring stability to the team's most troubled position. Todd hasn't been a soothing presence so far. His arm strength seems compromised. He also ponders his options longer than coaches would prefer. The upside is that he's a calm player who understands this offense and doesn't make many mistakes. If he learns to make decisions more quickly, Todd could help Auburn's offense progress quickly.
CB Antoine Carter (No. 45)
6-4, 253, Soph.
Last week: 0 tackles, 1 pass break-up (vs. Miss. State)
Scouting report: Carter brings raw speed into the equation off the end. There aren't many offensive tackles who can stay with Carter when he's given clearance to rush from the outside. He unloaded a vicious hit on MSU's quarterback last week and seems able to make that happen at least once per game. His presence makes opponents examine their protection decisions more carefully. That's worth a lot.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Where shall we start? Every element of the Tigers' attack seemed weak against Mississippi State. The offensive line was flagged repeatedly. Quarterback Chris Todd seemed indecisive and fumbled twice. Tailback Ben Tate fumbled again. While LSU's defense is up to its usual high standard, the Tigers must instead dedicate themselves toward limiting mistakes. Exploiting LSU's weakness -- and they appear trivial -- can happen only after Auburn learns to manage the basic elements of playing football. The good news for Auburn? Those mistakes seem out of character. As such, they may disappear immediately.
Confidence is high on this side of the ball after an outstanding performance last week. Everything worked. Then again, MSU's offense is remarkably troubled. LSU's attack is balanced, though the team's strength is at wideout. The Bayou Bengals love the vertical passing game, which will tax cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Walt McFadden. Auburn has the size and experience to clog running lanes against any opponent. Depth at linebacker provides nice run support. Forcing the LSU quarterbacks to make plays in their SEC debuts is the Tigers' basic plan. Auburn players say they don't feel pressure to perform flawlessly because of the team's offensive deficiencies. Still, surely that will be an issue at some point. Could this be it?
Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University
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