With a record of 4-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC play, LSU comes into the contest off a 21-17 victory over the Florida Gators last week at home. In the game the Bengal Tigers turned the ball over five times, but stifled Florida's offense on the way to the victory. Holding the Gators to just 206 yards of total offense, LSU served notice that they're going to be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the SEC season.
In his first season as head coach at LSU, Les Miles has done a solid job of getting his team to this point with just one loss. Despite turnover and penalty problems, LSU has made enough plays to get them through with only a loss coming to Tennessee at home. Having already played three ranked opponents this season, LSU will be ready to go against Auburn Saturday night behind a strong offensive line and a deep and experienced front seven on defense.
Offensively, the Bengal Tigers are led by massive quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Listed at 6-6, 252, the redshirt sophomore from Mobile is easily 270 pounds and will be a tough test to matchup with for the Auburn defense. Despite being bothered by a sore hand, Russell is expected to play Saturday night and comes into the contest averaging 223.4 yards passing per game.
At tailback the Tigers are deadly with starter Joseph Addai along with backups Justin Vincent (5-10, 219, Jr.) and Shyrone Carey (5-6, 197, Sr.) giving them one of the deepest rotations of backs in the league. A 6-0, 214 senior, Addai is perhaps the top back in the SEC this season and is coming off a big game against Florida in which he rushed for 156 yards. Currently he leads the SEC in rushing at 107.4 yards per game and has six touchdowns on the ground. He has also caught 10 passes for 88 yards this season.
As talented as anyone in the country at the wide receiver position, LSU boasts playmakers all over the field in the passing game. Leading the way is junior Dwayne Bowe (6-3, 217) who averages 66.5 yards through the air. The two have accounted for six of LSU's seven touchdown receptions this season.
Also dangerous is sophomore Early Doucet (6-0, 206), averaging 51.2 yards per contest. Dangerous Skyler Green (5-10, 185, Sr.), speedsters Bennie Brazell (6-1, 173, Sr.) and Xavier Carter (6-3, 198, So.), and banged-up Craig Davis (6-2, 199, Jr.). They give Russell multiple targets while also forcing a defense to be aware at all times of plays down the field. Tight end David Jones (6-4, 266, Jr.) is also a capable receiver, but is used mostly as a blocker.
Up front LSU is talented and very experienced with tackles Andrew Whitworth (6-7, 322, Sr.) and Brian Johnson (6-4, 297, Jr.) the anchors of a talented offensive line. Whitworth, a player Auburn defensive coordinator calls a sure-fire first-rounder, is powerful and dominates defenders at the point of attack. Center Rudy Niswanger (6-6, 296, Sr.) is also talented and one of the top players at his position in the country. Rounding out the starting five are guards Nate Livings (6-5, 310, Sr.) and Brett Helms (6-2, 290, Rfr.).
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams is one of the toughest players to block in the SEC.
Defensively, the strength of the LSU team is in the middle where tackles Kyle Williams (6-2, 295, Sr.) and Claude Wroten (6-3, 290, Sr.) wreak havoc on the opposition. Both quick and very strong, the duo has combined for 40 tackles and three sacks this season in just five games. At defensive end 6-3, 277 Opelika native Melvin Oliver is the leading playmaker with 23 tackles and four sacks while fellow starter Chase Pittman (6-4, 265, Jr.) has just nine tackles, but three sacks. Big Glen Dorsey (6-2, 284, So.) is the top reserve with 12 tackles and three sacks this season.
At linebacker the Tigers appeared to be in trouble with starter E.J. Kuale injured early in the season, but replacement Ali Highsmith (6-1, 226, So.) has been outstanding in his place this season. Leading the team in tackles with 35, tackles for a loss with six, and sacks with four, Highsmith is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording eight tackles and two sacks against Florida last week.
Rounding out the starting lineup at linebacker are seniors Cameron Vaughn (6-4, 237) in the middle and Adamsville, Ala. native Kenneth Hollis (6-0, 225, Sr.) on the strong side.
In the secondary safeties LaRon Landry (6-2, 204, Jr.) and Jessie Daniels (5-11, 203, Jr) lead a talented but underachieving secondary to this point. Both solid tacklers with 23 and 19 stops respectively, their aggressiveness sometimes hurts them against the pass, but makes LSU's already rugged run defense even better. At corner Mobile native Chevis Jackson (6-0, 189, So.) and senior Ronnie Prude (6-0, 180) give LSU two speedy cover guys.
LSU uses two and sometimes three kickers during a game as coach Miles attempts to specialize as much as possible. Colt David, a 5-9, 182, sophomore, kicks extra points for the Tigers and is a perfect 2-2 on field goals. Junior Chris Jackson (5-11, 174) has been the first choice on field goals, going 2-4, while junior Ryan Gaudet (5-6, 154) is also a possibility. Jackson does the punting for LSU has been outstanding, averaging 42.6 yards per kick with 13 downed inside the 20-yard line. Returning kicks will be Green, who is averaging 23 yards on kickoffs and just over 14 yards per punt return.
Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. CST and can be seen nationally on ESPN. Auburn is looking for its second-straight win in the series and for its ninth win against the Bengal Tigers since the SEC went to divisions in 1992.