The Inside Slant

With LSU in preparation for their first-ever meeting with McNeese State, go inside for the latest in this week's Inside Slant.


LSU's two-quarterback system seems to be clicking with both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee comfortable sharing time.

Now the Tigers might want to consider a two-running back system.

Through six games, there's no question who is handling the load in the rushing attack. Junior tailback Stevan Ridley has logged 125 carries. Jefferson is next on the team with 58, and wide receiver Russell Shepard is third with 23.

But the next running back on the list is freshman Alfred Blue, and he has only 14 carries.

"I think we have to have other running backs contribute," coach Les Miles said as the Tigers began preparations to play McNeese State. "You want to make sure that guys like Stevan Ridley are fresh when it comes to your best games.

"I think we are fortunate to have some quality, young tailbacks that will take snaps there. I think Spencer Ware and Michael Ford certainly looked to be every bit ready and willing.

"I think we'll have to do that, and I think that will be important to do."

Ford, a redshirt freshman, looked to play a much bigger role than he has so far. He has only seven carries for 47 yards (compared to Ridley's team-leading 640 yards) and Ware, a true freshman, has only one carry for an eight-yard gain.

Two of Ford's carries came against Florida, when he had a 25-yard run and a one-yard loss. Blue had 10 carries through the first three games for 59 yards but only four (for 11 yards) in the three games since.

Miles said it is important for those players, along with injury-hampered senior Richard Murphy, to spell Ridley. Murphy has only 10 carries for 14 yards.

But there is no question Ridley is Miles' man.

"I have enjoyed how he came out of the opener, and I've enjoyed how he has come to work and his insistence that he contribute because we all know that he had real ability," Miles said. "He has really committed to this team. He's always been a leader, but with his play and how he comes to work, there is a marked change in how he has approached it, and it's made a difference."


--LSU is in the Top 10 nationally in five different defensive categories. The Tigers are No. 5 in total defense (246.0 ypg), No. 6 against the rush (80.7 ypg), No. 9 in tackles for loss (8.17 per game), and No. 14 in scoring (15.2 ppg).

--LSU is 6-0 for the second time under coach Les Miles. The Tigers haven't been 7-0, however, since 1973, when they won their first nine games.

--The Tigers are 6-0 all-time against teams from the FCS level with wins over Arkansas State (1991), Western Carolina (2000), The Citadel (2002), Western Illinois (2003), and Appalachian State (2005 and 2008). The average score: LSU 44, FCS opponent 7.

SERIES HISTORY: First meeting between LSU and McNeese State.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: LSU has gone to a two-quarterback system the last two games, and it seems to have livened up the offense. Junior Jarrett Lee has passed for 309 yards in wins over Tennessee and Florida, and junior Jordan Jefferson has added 130 through the air and also has run for 150. TB Stevan Ridley dropped to second in the SEC in rushing behind Auburn QB Cam Newton but is still averaging 106.7 ypg. WR Terrence Toliver is beginning to break out as the top receiver.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Tigers are holding opponents to just 246.0 ypg, best in the conference. Opponents are getting only 80.7 of that yardage on the ground. LB Kelvin Sheppard is averaging 9.7 tackles per game, third in the league, and DT Drake Nevis is tied for second in sacks with five in six games. He also has 10.5 tackles for loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm a much more mature player than from 2008. I've been in this system now for four years, and so the game has slowed down. I've learned a lot over the past couple of years." -- QB Jarrett Lee, a redshirt junior, on how he has developed at LSU.


THIS WEEK'S GAME: McNeese State at LSU, Oct. 16 -- The Tigers take a break from SEC play to take on the second-winningest program in the state over the last 10 years. McNeese State, 2-3 this year, has won 83 games since the start of the 2000 season, LSU 105. This will be the Tigers' first game against an opponent from the FCS level since the 2008 opener against Appalachian State. 

KEYS TO THE GAME: Don't give McNeese hope by making early turnovers. The Tigers must keep their minds on the game and not be thinking back to the win over Florida or ahead to the upcoming game at Auburn. They need to continue to fine-tune their two-quarterback system with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.


CB Patrick Peterson -- If the Cowboys are foolish enough to kick to him, Peterson could have a big night. He is averaging 21.8 yards per return on punts and 27.2 on kickoff returns. Considered one of the top cover men in pass defense, he also has two interceptions.

WR Terrence Toliver -- Toliver had his first two touchdown catches of the year in the win over Florida. Overall, he had his biggest day of the year against the Gators with six receptions for 111 yards, giving him a team-high 20 receptions for 259 yards for the season.

DT Drake Nevis -- Nevis is the second-leading tackler overall for LSU with 33 stops, nearly a third of them (10.5 for losses). He is second in the SEC in sacks with five in six games. He also has an interception and has forced two fumbles.


-- WR Chris Tolliver (head) remains out.

-- DE Sam Montgomery (knee) will miss the rest of the season after being injured in the win over Tennessee.

-- TE Mitch Joseph, who sat out the last two games with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return against McNeese State.

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