Scoring 48.3 points while allowing just 10.3 per game, LSU's play up front has been a key to much of that success. Offensively, LSU enters Saturday night's game averaging 269.3 yards on the ground per contest and giving up a paltry 47 yard per game on defense. That's a massive difference and something Auburn must handle, and handle well, to have a chance to win Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. With that in mind we take a look at some of the keys for the game.
Getting Defensive With The Tackles
Without question this has been a sore spot for Auburn's defense through three games. While the entire 11 on defense has to shoulder some responsibility, Auburn's 14th place rank in SEC rushing defense starts with the guys in the middle of the front line on defense.
Facing an offense that prides itself on running the football between the tackles, Jeffrey Whitaker, Angelo Blackson, Kenneth Carter and Gabe Wright must step up their level of play several notches for Auburn's defense this week.
Running back Kenny Hilliard
LSU's running game has been outstanding this season and even without the services of Alfred Blue this week there are still plenty of capable bodies for coach Less Miles to turn to in a time of need. A 6-0, 231 sophomore, Kenny Hilliard has gained 301 yards and scored six touchdowns on just 37 carries this season to lead the Tigers in every rushing category. A freshman All-SEC performer last season, Hilliard ran for 65 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 10 carries against Auburn.
LSU's defensive front is likely the deepest area on the team for Miles on that side of the ball, and it starts at the end position with two of the best in the country in Barkevious Mingo (6-5, 240, Jr.) and Sam Montgomery (6-5, 260, Jr.). Playing sparingly the first three games because of big leads, the two have combined for 15 tackles and three and a half tackles for losses this season.
In the middle Bennie Logan (6-3, 295, Jr.) and Josh Downs (6-1, 287, Sr.) are the starters, but Anthony Johnson (6-3, 304, So.) may actually be the best of the bunch coming off the bench. In three games with one start Johnson has 11 tackles and two and a half tackles for losses. As a team LSU has 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage this season, but surprisingly only four total sacks.
Make It Count, Kiehl
Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier has shown some improvement at times this season, but has also been prone to making mistakes at times as well. That's something to watch for Saturday night with LSU's defense one of the top at producing turnovers in the country year after year. This season in three games LSU has intercepted six passes with true freshman Jalen Mills leading the way with a pair of picks. The man Frazier must find and be wary of is safety Eric Reid. With one interception this season, 6-2, 212 junior has five career interceptions and 121 tackles in just 19 career starts for the Tigers.
Make Him Throw
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has shown the ability to make plays and use his strong arm to get the ball down the field this season, averaging 203 yards per game and completing 72.7 percent of his passes. However, all of that came at home at Tiger Stadium and with a running game that set the LSU offense up in favorable situations time and time again.
With four touchdowns, but also two interceptions, Mettenberger has shown that he'll throw the ball into coverage because of the confidence in his arm. Auburn must slow the running game and turn loose Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford on third down to get pressure on the big-armed, but not fleet-footed Mettenberger. That's the ultimate recipe for success this week for the Auburn defense.