No. 4 LSU will test its suddenly powerful passing attack in the Southeastern Conference when the Tigers begin their conference season Saturday at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.
The Tigers (3-0) have sandwiched easy wins over Georgia Southern and Northwestern State around a tougher one at then-No. 12 Texas two weekends ago.
Joe Burrow has completed 83.3 percent of his throws for 1,122 yards, with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions, in the Tigers’ new, faster, more-wide open attack. Nine players, led by wide receivers Justin Jefferson (19 catches, 374 yards, four TDs) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (16-229-6) have at least four catches.
LSU is second nationally in passing at 436.3 yards per game. Marshall is tied with Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace for the most TD receptions in the nation.
“Obviously lights out right now on offense throwing the football,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron. “We’ve got to get better running the football.”
The Tigers have rushed for an un-LSU like 3.6 yards per carry. However, they’re allowing just 2.4 per attempt.
LSU clung to a 17-14 lead against Northwestern State last Saturday before running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 3-yard scoring run with 3:27 left in second quarter provided the first of 48 unanswered Tiger points to end the game.
Even with that scoring blitz, Orgeron found a way to motivate LSU for Saturday.
“On Tell the Truth Monday, we had on offense one of the things we must and will improve is that we were only eight out of nine in red-zone scoring,” Orgeron said.
“I said, ‘Well, isn’t that action a little much?’ And they said, ‘No, coach, we’re supposed to be nine out of nine.’ Setting the LSU standard of performance is very high. Our players have set it. Our coaches have set it.”
Last Saturday’s bye week was a pause on Vandy’s brutal opening schedule, featuring games against Georgia and at Purdue,
Vanderbilt, with Ball State transfer quarterback Riley Neal at the helm, has been unable to get going offensively, despite having a trio of standouts — running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, tight end Jared Pinkney and wideout Kalija Lipscomb. The Commodores (0-2, 0-1 SEC) are averaging just 15 points and 358 yards in two games.
“Ke’Shawn Vaughn ... he’s probably going to be an NFL player,” Orgeron said. “And also Jared Pinkney, the tight end. Those two guys will play in the NFL.”
Neal is 38 of 60 for 463 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
A major culprit on Vandy’s offense has been an inexperienced, banged-up offensive line. However, left tackle Devin Cochran — the team’s best lineman — could see his first action Saturday.
However, the ‘Dores may have bigger issues.
Vanderbilt allows 36 points and 509.5 yards per game, and it hasn’t recorded a sack. It gave up 8.1 yards per rush against Georgia, and 9.8 yards per pass vs. Purdue.
It is also the country’s most-penalized team at 11.5 flags per game.
“(I’m) disappointed in our discipline, all the way around,” coach Derek Mason said after the 42-24 loss to Purdue. “Our inability to stay onsides on defense really impacted this game.”
Mason said a trio of players — running back Jamauri Wakefield, linebacker Colin Anderson and wide receiver Amir Abdur-Rahman — will miss the rest of the season because of injuries. They haven’t been full-time starters, but their absences will affect the team’s depth.
The teams haven’t met since LSU’s 27-3 win in Nashville in 2010.
—Field Level Media