One of my favorite CFB blogs out there is the LSU-centric And The Valley Shook. All I ask from a blog is entertaining writing on subjects I care about, and ATVS certainly qualifies on that front. (If you haven’t been sneaking over there this week to catch a few things like this, this and this, you should be.) Plus, some of the guys there have been known on occasion to drop in on the comments section here, so they’ve obviously got some taste.
Anyhoo, I asked one of the ATVS regulars if he wouldn’t mind sharing some insight about LSU’s season so far with you guys, and he graciously consented. Without any further ado, here’s Billy Gomila aka Chef Billy:
It really is funny how much the conventional wisdom on LSU’s season has changed since the spring. Did it have any effect on the team’s preparation/mentality?
I definitely think the players noticed the “down season” narrative, and we know the “nobody believes in us” cliche almost always works as a motivational ploy. The coaching staff has certainly preached the “one game at a time” mindset, and at least outwardly, the players appear to be buying into that.
But I would also say that the schedule has been a big factor as well. LSU had to be ready for a big game in week one, and even with two cupcakes following it up, catching Auburn last week was also a good thing leading into such a big game.
The one thing you’re surprised LSU isn’t doing a better job at is…?
I really expected LSU’s linebackers to be one of the best units on this team, and instead, it’s really struggled so far. Even with a combined 32 tackles from the starters last week against Auburn, they just didn’t make a lot of plays, and we expected more from this group.
Growing pains from the defense were expected to a degree, but it’s still been a bit of a surprise to watch a team like Auburn kind of henpeck this unit to death in the running game.
What is it, something like 44 out of 60 receptions belong to Beckham, Jr. and Landry – does LSU have a legit third receiving option? Do the coaches even care?
In terms of one proven guy? I guess not, but they haven’t needed one thus far, really. I don’t think it’s a concern right now really. For a defense to lock down both Beckham and Landry, they’ll likely leave somebody else open, and I don’t think Mettenberger is afraid to go to a back or a tight end if that’s the open guy. How well do you like your nickel corner or safety in coverage?
Really, how tested has LSU been by the early schedule?
I think it depends on your definition of “tested.”The TCU game has probably been the only game that’s ever been at a tight enough stage to feel like the game might slip away. But I do think there’s been an advantage to the way things have built up. You had a big stage in week one, prime time, against a ranked opponent. Then two patsies to keep working out the kinks, then a conference rival (that was 3-0 at the time at that) to build into the first huge crossroads game of the season. Back in 2011, LSU’s first month really set the tone for conference play, whereas the next season, a light start definitely seemed to factor in with the team’s slow start. How well the first four weeks of this season has prepared LSU is something that I think we’ll find out early on Saturday.
We know Georgia’s defense has been on and off in the wake of replacing nine starters. Has Chavis’ defense missed a beat in the wake of all the NFL departures?
Right now, there just don’t appear to be as many impact players in the front seven as there were a year ago. Specifically, this outfit is missing a Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo or, especially, a Kevin Minter. It’s not exactly getting dragged up and down the field, but there haven’t been as many impact, drive-killing plays.
I mourn the absence of one of college football’s great names, Barkevious Mingo. Any worthy successors on this year’s roster?
Can I interest you in a Tre’davious White, or perhaps a Kwon Alexander? There’s also a Quantavius Leslie, but he hasn’t seen as much playing time.
Two of the rare teams in CFB that feature a fullback face off: are the defenses ready?
Isn’t one of the best parts of having a fullback on offense that your defense gets to practice against him? LSU has two by the way. Walk-on Connor Neighbors does a very good job of spelling J.C. Copeland.
Both teams have given up a long kickoff return in the early going. How have LSU’s special teams performed so far?
Since that one lapse against TCU, LSU’s have been steadily improving. Kicker James Hairston has consistently put kick-offs out of the endzone, and this year’s model Aussie punter, Jamie Keehn, has gotten better every game. In fact, if you factor out that one 100-yard return, LSU’s allowing an average of just 37 kick return yards a game.
During the Auburn broadcast, Blackledge said that to be successful, an offense has to attack LSU’s defense with downfield passing. True? If so, how susceptible is the secondary to the deep ball?
It was definitely true on that night. Sophomore Micah Eugene got the start at one of the safety spots, and was late getting deep in man-free coverage a couple of times, which led to both of Auburn’s long pass plays to Sammie Coates. He, reportedly, may miss this weekend with a hamstring injury, however. Nevertheless, this secondary is still relatively young, so a veteran passing attack like Georgia’s could have some success.
The most essential non-alcoholic item for a successful tailgate is…?
Well, for me tailgating is always about family, friends and good food, but those are givens. After that, I’d go with a good TV, some campus wi-fi and a phone with the WatchESPN app. My tailgate group has recently learned how to pair that with an HDMI cable to catch ESPN without having to bring out a satellite dish and triangulate anything. What a country!
It’s my understanding that Billy’s planning to link this Q&A over at his site, so if you’ve got questions or observations, set ‘em up in the comments and maybe we’ll get a response from the ATVS folks. Hope you enjoyed this.