There are always individual matchups that determine the outcome of any game. This contest will be no different.
Head to Head:
Arizona State WR vs. LSU
Derek Hagan vs. Ronnie Prude
Derek Hagan is undoubtedly one of
the nation's premiere receivers. With excellent size at 6-2, 202 pounds Hagan is
the total package to be a star on the next level. Despite logging just three
catches in the season opener versus
Temple, (two were for touchdowns),
Hagan is closing in on virtually every major record at
State including receptions and
touchdown catches. While he has seen plenty of playing time in his career,
Ronnie Prude is now LSU's shutdown corner and will no doubt be lined up over
Hagan. Prude can bolster his reputation as a Corey Webster's replacement with a
solid showing versus Hagan.
State DE vs. LSU
Kyle Caldwell vs. Jacob Hester
Kyle Caldwell is one of the top
rush ends in the Pac-10. With seven sacks a year ago,
Caldwell proved he can apply more
than enough pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Tackles Brian Johnson and Andrew Whitworth can more than likely handle
Caldwell, but if was to wriggle free
the last line of defense lies with fullback Jacob Hester. Hester, along with
Kevin Steltz, will provide extra protection for LSU quarterbacks.
Player to Watch:
Why it is important to stop
Sam Keller replaces
State's all-time leading passer in
Andrew Walter. A junior is his first season as the Sun Devils' starter, Keller
appears more than ready. Having garnered Sun Bowl MVP honors last season, the
California native completed 14 of
24 passes versus Temple for 208
yards and four touchdowns. He has excellent size and is a true pocket passer
prototypical of the Pac-10.
Who has to stop him?
The Sun Devils success depends on
the connection of Keller and wide receiver Derek Hagan. While Ronnie Prude will
do his best to shutdown Hagan, the Tigers' front four will need to apply as much
pressure as possible to Keller. While ASU has added a new dimension to its
offense in freshmen running back Keegan Herring, the Sun Devils must pass to win
and the Tigers must pressure that aerial attack out of sync.
LSU rushing offense vs.
State rushing defense:
Temple to a mere 62 yards on the
ground in the season opener. The Sun Devils ranked a respectable 28th
in the nation a year ago against the run and appear to be strong against a
ground attack this season. But remember,
State plays in the pass happy Pac-10
where a running game is somewhat of a novelty. Facing an LSU team with a stable
of capable backs and a veteran offensive line deep in size and talent, expect
the Tigers to be able to run pretty much wherever they would like.
LSU passing offense vs.
State passing defense:
JaMarcus Russell projects to enter
State game as the Tigers solidified
starter. While he enters his first season as the rock-solid starter, his game
experience has been extensive, i.e. the fourth quarter of the Capital One Bowl
last season. While it may take a quarter or two for the passing game to find its
rhythm, keep in mind the Sun Devils ranked 85th in pass defense a
year ago surrendering 236 yards per game. Maybe they have improved? Maybe not.
Temple quarterback Mike McGann
(who?) topped the 200-yard mark – 203 to be exact – versus ASU Last week. Pass
defense in the Pac-10 is a great deal like a running game, a novelty.
State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing
While Keegan Herring was a bright
spot in the Sun Devils season opener setting a freshmen record with 134 yards,
remember those numbers came against
Temple. Keep in mind,
State ranked 94th in the
nation in rushing offense a year ago and tallied just six rushing touchdowns.
LSU, which returns seven defensive starters including five of the front seven,
ranked seventh in the country against the run last season allowing 99 yards per
contest. Do the math.
State passing offense vs. LSU passing
In the wake of losing all-time
leading passer Andrew Walter, Sam Keller has given ASU fans a reason to smile.
Leading the Sun Devils to a 27-23 win over Purdue in last season's Sun Bowl,
Keller looked solid in the season opener versus
Temple. Plus, he has Derek Hagan to
throw passes to and in the season opener 10 different players were recipients of
Keller offerings. LSU replaces both cornerbacks despite returning one of the
nation's best safety tandems.
LSU special teams vs.
State special teams:
For a team that missed eight extra
points, ranked 52nd in net punting, 79th in punt returns
and 57th in kickoff returns a year ago, LSU will come out on the
short end in this category until further notice.
State punter Chris Macdonald ranked
15th nationally a year ago and the Sun Devils were 51st in
punt returns and a sparkling 22nd on kickoffs.
This will be an interesting angle.
With the trauma from Hurricane Katrina still weighing on the minds of LSU's
players and fans, the simple notion of the Tigers playing this game will serve
as extreme motivation in facing
State. However, on the flip side, LSU
could come out emotionally spent and fall flat. Plus, the last time the Tigers
faced a nationally-ranked opponent in a season opener LSU was drilled 26-8 at
Virginia Tech. The Hokies got a chance to work out the kinks versus
State, much the same way the Sun
Devils did against Temple. Will
history repeat itself?
With all the subplots aside, this
game will come down to which team is more physical.
State has a high-octane passing
attack, but LSU will utilize a punishing ground attack never seen before by the
likes of these Sun Devils. This is
State's first-ever meeting with an
SEC team With the game on the road, the Sun Devils will quickly be introduced to
the smash-mouth style football played in the nation's most hostile