DEVILLE: 10 Things to Look For Saturday night

What more can I say about these LSU Tigers than I haven't already laid out there over the last month? For many of you, the LSU football season is only just beginning Saturday. After months of waiting, the season officially opens when the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns make the 60-mile trip east to face the LSU Tigers.

But for me, and lots of other sports writers, the football season began a long time ago.

When covering LSU athletics, the baseball season typically spills over in the month of June, prolonging the jump to football until midsummer.


Well, we know that wasn't the case this year.


With the Tiger baseball team in the tank by early May and Smoke Laval shown the door the first week of June, football season came early this year. While many fans are drooling over the notion of football again, after putting out our Tiger Rag Football Preview this summer and an entire month of Fall Camp this August, I have been footballing for some time now.


So after weeks of writing about football when there wasn't even any football being played, I feel as though I am as well versed in the 2006 Tigers as anyone.


With that being the case, as we enter the season opener this weekend, I am going to outline 10 things for you to be on the lookout for when the Tigers strap is on against the Cajuns on Saturday.


Here goes:


1. JaMarcus Russell. The Tigers' starting quarterback has put plenty of room between himself and second string quarterback Matt Flynn this August, all but silencing any chatter about a quarterback controversy. Russell is 14-2 as a starter and led LSU to 10 wins a year ago. But a wrist injury slowed him down and he feels he could have been even better. Look for Russell to more poised and focused in trying to prove a point that the starting job is his for as long as he is a Tiger.


2. The Revolving Door at Running Back. There is no secret that Alley Broussard is not 100-percent after last season's knee injury. Miles can say he is, Broussard can as well, but there have been too many precautionary measures taken and too many extra pounds on Broussard's frame to prove he is not completely back. Justin Vincent looks to be in the best shape of his life and even Jacob Hester is getting carries at tailback. Antonio Robinson could factor into the mix as well. Miles has said true freshman Charles Scott will play and the late-arriving Keiland Williams is even an option.


3. Freshmen in Action. Speaking of those true freshmen, keep one eye on the field and one on your game program for which newcomer is going to get into the game. With the arrival of Williams, Richard Murphy, Steve Singleton and Al Woods, LSU has 22 newcomers on campus. Miles said last week, somewhere between 15 and 18 of those players will contribute this season. Miles has kept not kept it a secret that Scott will play. Woods is already running with the second team at defensive tackle. There is little doubt that one or all four freshmen linebackers – Jacob Cutrera, Perry Riley, Kelvin Sheppard and Derrick Odom – could play due to a lack of depth at the position. Wide receivers Trindon Holliday, Jared Mitchell, Chris Mitchell and Ricky Dixon have all been mentioned for playing time as well.


4. Ciron Black. The major question mark on this team is its offensive line. Losing three starters – including Andrew Whitworth, Rudy Niswanger and Nate Livings – will be a tall task, especially the all-American Whitworth. Redshirt freshman Ciron Black gets the call to step in for Whitworth and protect Russell's all-important blindside.


5. Glenn Dorsey. The junior defensive tackle is being lauded as the next in a long line behind Booger McFarland, Chad Lavalais, Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams as the Tigers' standout defensive tackle. Miles has said several times Dorsey has been all but unblockable so far this August. We shall see.


6. ULL's "Other" L. Every since the former University of Southwestern Louisiana became the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the Ragin' Cajuns have been trying to upgrade their status. To make the school's name sound more official, ULL fans and officials have dropped one of the L's stating the school is simply the University of Louisiana. They refer to the university simply as "UL." Two things. As much as ULL tries, they still and will always remain a directional school. Also, they had better consult with the University of Louisiana – Monroe before staking claim to the University of Louisiana moniker, because the Warhawks (I know, that sounds as ridiculous as UL!) can refer to themselves as "UL" as well.


7. Governor Kathleen Blanco. The dislike of LSU by the Louisiana governor – and vice versa – is well documented. One can be sure when her honor, a huge Cajun supporter, steps into Tiger Stadium on Saturday night, the reception will not be a warm one. Blanco is actually throwing a tailgate party for ULL fans on the grounds of Louisiana Governor's Mansion. From the line on this game, the open invitation to hang out with the state's first family may be as good as it gets on Saturday for Cajun followers.


8. The Scoreboard. Did you know in 20 prior meetings with LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette has been outscored 912-19? It's true, just check out Marty Mule's column on page 21. The Cajuns are projected to have their best team in years, but it will still be a struggle to add to that running point total against this Tiger defense.


9. That ULL Hot Pepper. When the Ragin' Cajuns visited Tiger Stadium in 2002, the "Pride of Acadiana," the ULL band, didn't make the trip. There has been no word on whether or not the band will travel to Baton Rouge this year, but one can bet that ridiculous-looking hot pepper mascot will be dancing along the sidelines in front of the Ragin' Cajun contingency.


10. Finally, Tiger Stadium's West Upper Deck. This has gotten almost comical. Last year, LSU officials said the construction of the new westside of Death Valley would be completed by the start of the 2005 season. Hurricane Katrina then hit and proved to cause major delays in the stadium's completion. The construction was then supposed to be completed by early spring 2006. Here it is, less than a week before kickoff of the 2006 season, and construction crews are still working around the clock putting the finishing touches on the inside of the West Side Stadium Club. We won't even begin to detail the amount of work still left to do on the "A" Lot parking area on the west side.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at

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