Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn's offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, said on Wednesday evening that he likes how his Tigers are preparing for their SEC opener in a battle of ranked football teams scheduled for Saturday at LSU.
Awaiting the visiting Tigers in Baton Rouge will be what Lashlee noted is an impressive defense directed by new coordinator Kevin Steele, who replaced John Chavis, Texas A&M's new coordinator.
“They are typical LSU,” Lashlee said. “They can really run. He lets his guys play fast, which I think is always a good characteristic of a good coach.
“They have some really good skill guys on the back end,”?he pointed out. “Their corners are very talented and have got great size. The (Tre’Davious) White kid is probably one of the best corners in our league. They have got the best freshman corner (Kevin Toliver) in our league, arguably, and he is playing well.
“Their safeties (Ricky Jefferson and Jamal Adams) can really, really run and cover ground and they are physically,” the coach said.
“Their linebackers, I?don’t know yet because we haven’t played everybody, but they could be the best linebacking corps in the league,” Lashlee said. “The (Kendell) Beckwith kid is phenomenal.
“Up front they have got two big guys and they have got some long ends who can rush the passer so it seems like an LSU defense to me,” Lashlee added. “We know it is a great challenge.
“They are really good. They held a really good team (Mississippi State) with a really good quarterback (Dak Prescott) under 20 points at their place so we are going to have to play really well.”
Lashlee said that the offense’s starting right tackle, Avery Young, has practiced the past two days and looks good. The junior missed game two with an ankle injury.
Auburn offensive tackle Avery Young is back on the practice field for the Tigers.
Overall, the offensive coordinator said the preparation for Saturday’s game has gone well. “Guys have been really focused,” he said. “It is the first SEC opponent and, of course, we are going to play in a very hostile environment. We have been locked in and we have had two very good days.”
Asked if he has a better feel for the offense with two games in the books, Lashlee replied, “I think we have a better idea right now. How long it takes for that to take hold you never know, but the guys have had a great week of practice. As coaches we have got a lot of good information the first two games. It was two different scenarios, two different endings, and we learned a lot about every guy on our team.
“We know, I think, what positions to put them in and what to do with them, what we’re good at and what we need to work at more. We feel like we’ve got a really good plan to move forward. Hopefully, it starts this week.”
Junior safety Johnathan Ford leads the Tigers in tackles with 24, five more than senior linebacker Cassanova McKinzy.
Ford will likely need to have a good performance in run support while helping with the pass coverage on Saturday. “The challenge is stopping No. 7 (running back Leonard Fournette),” said Ford, who predicted his team’s defense is up to the challenge vs. a player who rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns last week vs. Mississippi State.
“We have to get ready,” Ford declared. “It is going to be a big, physical game, get ready for pounding and that is what we're going to get ready for.”
Johnathan "Rudy" Ford is shown in action in Auburn's 31-24 victory over Louisville.
After a close call vs. Jacksonville State with a 27-20 victory in overtime, Ford was asked if it is difficult for him to believe his team is capable of winning the SEC championship, something forecast this summer at the league’s annual media days. For replied that it’s not hard at all.’
“We got the W,”?he said. “We have got more than enough talent to do what we want to do this year. It's not hard to believe at all. Don’t count us out for anything.”
In other news and notes:
*Lashlee said that Auburn’s other starting offensive tackle, Shon Coleman, is off to a good start this season. “I think he’s playing really well. He’s leading our team in knockdowns.”
*Lashlee, who doubles as the quarterback coach, was asked if he has been working on improving Jeremy Johnson’s deception on fakes, something that his predecessor, Nick Marshall, was very good at doing.
“We’ve looked at everything we’ve been doing and maybe some things we haven’t been doing,” the coach said. “It’s like everything else, as coaches we always see the negative more than anybody I promise you. We’re always focusing on how can we get better in this area and how can we get better in this area? It’s a constant process we’re definitely working on.”
*Kickoff is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CDT with television coverage on CBS with Vern Lundquist and Gary Danielson calling the action.
*The radio broadcast on The Auburn Network featuring Rod Bramblett on play-by-play, Stan White as the color analyst, sideline reporter Quentin Riggins and studio host Paul Ellen is available on Sirius/XM Channel 80.
*Auburn has an all-time record of 47-29-5 in SEC openers, including wins in 20 of its previous 22 games to start the league schedule.
*LSU leads its series vs. Auburn 27-21-1 and the Bayou Bengals are 16-5-1 vs. Auburn at Tiger Stadium, a venue where Auburn hasn’t won since taking a 41-7 decision in 1999, the same score Gus Malzahn’s Tigers won by last season.
*The plan by Auburn’s coaches was to involve Ricardo Louis more heavily in the offense this year. Through two games that has happened. The senior is leading the team in receptions with 13 and receiving yardage with 120.
His 10 catches last week are a career-high and also 15.3 percent of his entire receiving output since he arrived at Auburn. Louis also has five carries for 24 yards and one touchdown.
*Auburn is ranked 15th by AP going into Saturday’s game, one spot behind LSU, which has 806 poll points to Auburn’s 784.
*LSU’s defense held Mississippi State to 43 rushing yards, the lowest total since playing North Carolina to open the 2010 season. With Les Miles as head coach LSU has a 58-0 record when limiting an opponent for less than 100 rushing yards. LSU is 47-5 under Miles when it has a player who rushes for 100 yards.
*Fournette’s 159 rushing yards are the most for an LSU player in an opener since Charles Scott ran for 160 vs. Appalachian State in 2008. His 28 carries in the opener are the most for an LSU back since Dalton Hilliard rushed 31 times vs. North Carolina in 1985.
More Notes and Discussion: http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=6&f=2770&t=14097299