Breaking down the Leathernecks

The LSU Tigers get set to take on its third Division I-AA team under head coach Nick Saban. LSU disposed of I-AA members Western Carolina (58-0, 2000) and The Citadel (35-10, 2002) and look to knock off the Leathernecks of Western Illinois Saturday night. However, the top-ranked team in Division I-AA may put up more of a fight than its earlier counterparts.

LSU senior tackle Rodeny

Reed leads a veteran O-line.


LSU rushing offense vs. Western Illinois rushing defense

The Tigers did not run much in the win over ULM, but flexed its offensive ground grinding muscle against the Wildcats pounding out 227 yards via the rushing game. With LSU's offensive line averaging 6-4, 308 pounds, the Tigers tower over an overmatched Western Illinois front, which stands on average at 6-2, 260 pounds per man.

Advantage: LSU


LSU passing offense vs. Western Illinois passing defense

The Leatherneck have a talented secondary with a pair of brothers, Victor and Vinceson Campbell, holding down the corners. However, with the way Matt Mauck is completing passes and judging by the play of the Tiger wide receivers, Deion Sanders and Charles Woodson would have a hard time keeping up.

Advantage: LSU


Senior D-tackle Chad

Lavalais gives LSU a premium

stopper up the middle.


Western Illinois rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense

Arizona's 31 rushing yard last week should be enough to tell you how good the Tigers run defense is. Western Illinois has been getting some production out of its ground game over the past two weeks, but look for that to change on Saturday.

Advantage: LSU


Western Illinois passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

Like eery week, we have tipped our caps a couple of decent passing teams. Well, ULM put up a better fight through the air than Arizona's miserable attack, but Western Illinois quarterback Russ Michna is better than anything the Tigers have seen this season. One more week of shutting down a passing attack and we will throw our support to an improving LSU secondary.

Advantage: Western Illinois


Senior cornerback Corey

Webster was named the

Tigers Special Teams Player

of the Week vs. Arizona. 


LSU special teams vs. Arizona special teams:

Punting the ball has not been a problem for LSU with Donnie Jones and the kicking situation is getting better as Ryan Gaudet gave the special teams a shot in the arm with an impressive 47-yard field goal. However, the most dangerous weapon LSU has on special teams is kick returner Shyrone Carey. For the second week in a row, the pint sized punt returner danced through an opposing team's coverage for big gainers. Look for that to continue.

Advantage: LSU



The Tigers have taken on two Division I-AA schools since Nick Saban became head coach at LSU. The Tigers don't necessarily want to play a I-AA team, but with scheduling problems with Bowling Green and most recently Marshall, those things happen. The two previous double-A'ers did not present much of a threat as LSU handled Western Carolina in 2000 58-0 and took care of The Citadel last year 35-10. The Leathernecks are better than their predecessors, but not good enough.

Advantage: LSU


LSU head coach Nick

Saban looks to improve

to 3-0 against I-AA teams.



Western Illinois made quite a run through the I-AA playoffs a year ago losing in the semifinals. However, I-AA says it all. As far as skill players go, Western could compete at the Division I level. But in the trenches is where the game is won and lost. The Leathernecks are undersized on each front and will fall victim to a physical LSU squad. Western Illinois won its fourth game over a Division I school in five year topping Eastern Michigan last week 35-12, but don't look for that to carry over to this weekend.

LSU 45, Western Illinois 14


- Matt Deville

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