Tension will run high in first road game

LSU head coach Nick Saban knows there will be a certain amount of anxiety felt by his team as they head to Arizona Saturday to face the Wildcats in the Tigers first non-conference game of the season. <br><br> Several true freshmen and first time starters saw action in LSU's 49-7 win over UL-Monroe last Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

Even though the Tigers were heavy favorites on their home field against the Indians, Saban said there was still a sense of nervousness among some of the first-time starters.

 

"During pregame, I tapped one of the guys on the shoulder and said the two's are in, you're out," Saban said.

 

After Saban told one of his starting defenders to step out of the second team defense's drill, the message didn't register.

 

"Again, I told him, the two's are in, you're out," Saban smiled. "It was not that he didn't hear me. After I told him the second time, he went right back and lined up in the wrong defense. It took me telling him three times."

 

Saban asked, though, that the media not mention this particular player's name. However, the tension and anticipation had this particular player in question a bit distracted as he prepared for his first career start. And that was for a game about to be played in Tiger Stadium.

 

LSU is getting set to play its second non-conference road game in as many years. However, this season's opponent does not carry the same weight as last year's trek to Virginia Tech. Arizona is regarded as one of the bottom tier Pac-10 teams, but Saban and the Tigers are not taking the Wildcats lightly.

 

"I think this is a football team (Arizona) that is underrated, and I think people look at the surface only. Last year they scored a lot of points and were in a lot of games," Saban said. "The PAC-10 obviously did pretty well against the SEC this past week and certainly our players need to be aware of that and know that our league is nationally-known and when we go play places people are anxious to play us. They also want to prove something when it happens, just like last year at Virginia Tech."

 

No SEC team has recorded a win over a Pac-10 member since Tennessee beat UCLA 30-24 in 1997. Since then, several schools have had opportunities including Alabama (0-2 vs. UCLA) and Mississippi State (0-2 vs. Oregon)

 

Saban said the coaching staff and team is weighing all possibilities of what could happen when they travel to Tucson over the weekend.

 

"I know how people think and that is exactly what you do not want to do as a competitor who is getting ready to play a game," Saban said. "You figure up all the reasons that things should go right or all the reasons that things should go wrong and it doesn't necessarily happen that way. It happens the way you make it happen and I think we better be ready to make it happen the right way by how we play and continue to try and develop an identity as a team that plays smart football.

 

While the Wildcats have struggled defensively, Saban gave Arizona's offense high marks. A year ago, the Wildcats were a pass heavy ball club. As shown in UA's 42-7 win over UTEP last Saturday, Arizona is trying to jump start its running game.

 

"Arizona played two quarterbacks last week and both guys showed some effectiveness," Saban said. "They ran the ball more effectively. I know the one running back may have been injured in the game, it looked like he hurt his shoulder in the game, and I do not know if he will be back for the game, but (halfback) Mike Bell had a big game. They have a big offensive line and their quarterback (Nic) Costa is really a nifty guy who can really run and is a very good passer as well. (Ryan) O'Hara threw the ball effectively in the game as well, so they have two capable quarterbacks."

 

No new injuries have been reported, except for the ones Saban talked about in Saturday's postgame press conference.

 

"From an injury standpoint (cornerback) Randall Gay (broken left arm) is the only guy and you know about him," Saban said. "(Craig) Buster Davis (wide receiver) will start back today in a red shirt today doing some practice. Randall will be out at least two weeks and then they will re-X-ray. It is not fractured all the way through so it is not a hairline fracture. We are going to re-evaluate him in two weeks and it probably depends a lot on his tolerance of being able to play with whatever they have to put on his arm."

Tiger Blitz Top Stories