With Patrick Netherton, the voice of NSU athletics
1.) Being that this is the first meeting between Northwestern State and LSU in 69 years, what’s the buzz for the game been like? How have the LSU connections – namely head coach Bradley Dale Peveto – affected the preparation for the in-state bout?
There is a great buzz about this game. Peveto is bringing and dressing the entire team for the game and has told the fans to really enjoy the atmosphere and pageantry surrounding a game at Tiger Stadium. Peveto and his staff have an amazing respect for Les Miles and his staff and they remain friends. I think this game will be played with a lot of respect on both sides.
2.) Northwestern State comes into this game as the big underdog. What specific things must happen for this one to stay close into the second half?
Obviously for this one to stay close, LSU is going to have to help out. Turnovers, busted coverage, etc. and NSU taking advantage of those opportunities has to happen for the Demons to stay in it. And NSU will need to play nearly flawlessly, taking advantage of any and every mistake LSU makes. It wouldn’t hurt to control the ball offensively and pay off those drives with points, while making big plays on defense and special teams.
3.) How do things change from Paul Harris to Brad Henderson, and how will Henderson try to attack the LSU defense?
Harris and Henderson are virtually the same quarterback. Both are athletic and figure in the run game and have great strong arms. Henderson is a bit more of a threat from the pocket. I think Henderson has to attack man coverage when he finds it, hoping his receivers will make a play for him against that vaunted LSU secondary.
4.) What does Derek Rose bring to the NSU defense, and what other Demons could give the Tigers offense trouble?
Derek Rose is an athletically gifted linebacker who has a great feel for the game. He is a student of the game as well, which only adds a knowledge base to his already tremendous instincts when the ball is snapped. It is rare he gets fooled on a play. Other guys to look out for defensively are strong safety Jamaal White, who is perhaps the most talented defender on the team and defensive end Ricky Isaac, who is a very athletic edge rusher.
5.) Peveto has stressed three keys to the game: turnover margin, eliminating foolish penalties and ramping up the run game. How did that play out versus Delta State and how much will Peveto stress the three come Saturday?
Those three things are the overriding keys to the whole season. NSU was -19 in turnover margin two years ago and -15 last year. They were +1 versus Delta St (really +2 when you consider a kickoff the Demons recovered). The run game was about average at 116 yards, but 71 of those in the third quarter when NSU was erasing the 17-point deficit. Penalties were a huge problem, with 17 for 154 yards, including several that wiped out big gains. Obviously, if NSU is to have any chance, they will need to be way ahead on the turnover margin, run the ball effectively and eliminate the penalties that put them in bad down and distance situations or bring back big gains.
6.) How do you see this one playing out?
I think coming off the high of the Oregon win and potentially looking ahead to a massive Thursday matchup against Mississippi State, LSU will begin the game overlooking the Demons a bit. NSU will score first, the crowd will get into it and LSU will wake up a bit. I think it will be reasonable before the superior depth of LSU wears down the Demons and LSU wins 40-22, with NSU scoring a late TD.