Scouting Report: LSU

The Wildcats head to "Death Valley" and a difficult road test against eighth ranked LSU. The Tigers are favored, and for good reason, but the talent level of the two teams are far closer than they were for their last meeting in 2003.

Arizona (1-0) at Louisiana State (1-0)
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. Tucson)
Site: Tiger Stadium (Cap. - 92,400) - Baton Rouge, La.
TV: ESPN2 (Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham, Dave Lamont)
Radio: 1290 AM (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett)

LSU and Arizona Historical Fast Facts
First Meeting: 1984 (LSU 27 - Arizona 26)
Last Meeting: 2003 (LSU 59 - Arizona 13)
All-Time Series Record: LSU leads 2-0
Current Streak: LSU has won both meetings between the two

Last Time Out: LSU pummeled Louisiana-Lafayette 45-3. Arizona edged BYU 16-13.

LSU On Offense: The Tigers are talented, but more conventional than BYU. It all starts with QB JaMarcus Russell. Russell is a big, mobile talented quarterback in the Daunte Culpepper mode. He's a legit 6-6 and over 260 pounds. He has a cannon arm (remember the end of the ASU game a year ago?) but can also move pretty well.

The goal for the Cats is to keep him in the pocket and make him rely on his accuracy. He can throw on the run and has the size to shed tacklers. He's not much of a threat to spring down field and run, but he can do some damage in short yardage situations.

The Tigers have talent in the backfield, but no one running back got the bulk of the carries last week. Four players had between five and eight carries. Alley Brousard seems to be the most likely choice to be the top ball carrier but he is recovering from a knee injury that had him looking tentative in the spring. Charles Scott and Justin Vincent are also players who will get carries and the Tigers tend to use fullback Jacob Hester quite a bit.

The strength of the offense is wide receiver where there is a ton of size and athleticism. Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, Early Doucet and Brandon LaFell all have next-level skills with size and great speed. This will be a huge challenge for the Wildcat secondary, which despite being among the tops in the country, will be tested.

The offensive line lost three starters, three really good starters. There's size and talent returning, but the line could be a work in progress. Ciron Black at left tackle could be a superstar in the making.

Arizona needs to keep the big plays to a minimum. BYU was not able to go deep against the Wildcat defense, but LSU is a whole different animal. Russell has a great arm and the LSU receivers are much better than the BYU unit.

The Cats will try to slow down the run and make LSU one-dimensional. They must pressure Russell and hope he makes some mistakes.

LSU On Defense: Last week the Cats struggled against a BYU defense that they had no film of. BYU put in a 3-4 scheme over the summer and the Wildcats looked confused against the little used alignment. LSU will not have the mystery element going for it, but will trot out a more talented group.

The Tigers must replace three players up front. That's the good news for Arizona. The bad news is there are a number of talented young players to fill the spots. Glenn Dorsey and Chase Pittman got the accolades before the season, but Charles Alexander and Tyson Jackson had better games last week.

The linebacking group also took some hits, but the replacement players have all the talent in the world. Sophomores Darry Beckwith and Luke Sanders look to be big time players.

While the front seven is retooling, the defensive backs are among the nation's best. LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels form the best safety duo in America and the corners are nothing to sneeze at. As good as the Wildcats are in the defensive backfield, the Tigers are even better.

The good news is that the Cats have some film to work with and won't be surprised by what LSU does. That does not mean they can counter it. LSU held just 176 yards of total offense. The Cats must be able to run on the Tigers or this one could be one-sided. Arizona does not have the defensive depth to lose the time of possession battle by more than a couple of minutes.

Many complained that the Arizona offense lacked a lot of imagination last week, but that should not be the case against LSU. Expect the Cats to come out firing in an attempt to get off to a quick start and try to silence the huge Tiger crowd.

Arizona must play smart football on offense, but they will also have to take some chances and try to make big plays.

Overview: LSU has the superior talent, but Arizona believes they are closing the gap. We'll learn a lot about the Wildcats after Saturday night. Just how close, from a talent standpoint, are they to a top-10 team? To beat LSU they must win the cliché battles, that is, time of possession, turnovers and penalties. They also need to make more big plays. LSU is the favorite and rightfully so, but this one won't be like the 2003 laugher.


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