The LSU faithful can thank Michigan for that because had the Wolverines taken Appalachian State more seriously last season then chances are they would have come out victorious rather than suffering what is looked at by some as the biggest upset in the history of college football.
Had Michigan won that game then there is an even better chance that Saturday’s matchup would not be nationally televised and getting all of the hype from the national pundits.
Appalachian State has earned a reputation for stepping up and giving the big boys of college football fits.
Now, can the Mountaineers do it again on Saturday against the defending BCS National Champs?
Here is TigerSportsDigest.com’s breakdown on the game.
LSU’s Run Game vs. Appalachian State’s Rushing Defense
On paper, LSU’s rushing attack should be tops in the SEC this season with the wealth of talent in the backfield to go with the size and experience down in the trenches. Les Miles is looking for someone to step up and be that feature back that Jacob Hester was a year ago but one of the guys is going to have to grab the keys to the car and take off. The offensive line could be one of the better units LSU has had this decade and it will have a decisive advantage on Saturday averaging 6-5 and 293 pounds compared to the Mountaineers that check in at 6-3 and 257. Smaller sometimes means quicker but this is basically the same front seven that gave up 193 yards a game last year which was 87th in the FCS ranks, and 246 to the Wolverines. Appalachian State returns three starters on the line and all three linebackers but LSU is too deep and too talented.
LSU’s Passing Game vs. Appalachian State’s Pass Defense
With the uncertainty that LSU has at quarterback some would give the Mountaineers the edge but having to replace all of the starters in the secondary combined with LSU’s speed makes this much more even. If the Tigers do throw the ball vertically and Andrew Hatch, and/or Jarrett Lee, can get the ball to the wide outs then this game could get ugly in a hurry. ASU does have two guys who saw extensive playing time last season in safety Leonard Love and cornerback Cortez Gilbert. Love made his first start last season against Michigan and picked off a pass, and Gilbert started two playoff games. Dominique McDuffie (6-2, 195) has good size at the other corner spot but this time last year he was getting ready to play on Friday night at Red Bank High School. Despite the inexperience at quarterback and the question marks at receiver, LSU should get the edge because there is too much of a talent gap. If ASU had a little more experience returning then this would be even but it isn’t.
Appalachian State’s Run Game vs. LSU’s Rushing Defense
Losing the school’s all-time leading rusher in Kevin Richardson combined with an LSU defense that is bigger, faster, and more athletic spells a lot of trouble for the Mountaineers. Sure, Armanti Edwards is very dangerous and he will make some plays, maybe even a lot of plays, but LSU’s depth and size advantage will take its toll in the second half. The Mountaineers give up an average of an inch and 20 pounds down in the trenches, and Devon Moore will see that Richardson has some very big shoes to fill.
Appalachian State’s Passing Game vs. LSU’s Pass Defense
Breaking in a pair of new cornerbacks and not having Craig Steltz in the secondary making checks will force the LSU defensive backs to go through some growing pains early on. Armanti Edwards may be able to take advantage of some of the miscommunication that will likely occur but losing his top three leading receivers from 2007 will put quite a strain on the ASU passing game. CoCo Hillary showed some big-play ability last year but is he ready to be the man? If the ASU line can protect Edwards and give him time to throw which will be a tough chore against LSU’s front four then he could make things a little more interesting, at least for a half. We’ll give Edwards the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Advantage: Appalachian State
LSU’s Special Teams vs. Appalachian State’s Special Teams
Les Miles hinted to some changes that special teams coach Joe Robinson has made and many hope that it pertains to the spacing that LSU has used in the past with its punt blockers. There are some big question marks with punting and kicking off but there aren’t any with field goals and extra points assuming that Colt David is at full strength. LSU has a huge advantage with speed and in the kick return game but will someone step up and be the big-play punt return man that LSU hasn’t been able to find since Skyler Green graduated following the 2005 campaign? ASU has question marks of its own with sophomore Jason Vitaris at kicker and punter Neil Young (37.8 avg.). But, until we see what the Tigers have we’ll call this one even.
LSU has the home field advantage which is always a plus and Appalachian State will not sneak up on anyone after last season’s win at Michigan. Gustav, either a tropical storm or hurricane depending on when you read this, will surely be on the minds of many of the LSU players and it will likely affect the crowd somewhat on Saturday but it should still be a hostile environment. ASU headman Jerry Moore has a lot of respect in coaching circles for the job he has done in 17 years at Appalachian State where he has compiled a 140-67 record. His résumé includes three consecutive FCS national championships and he is the winningest football coach in the storied history of the Southern Conference. On the other side of the field is Les Miles, who is 34-6 in three years at LSU and 64-27 overall as a head coach. Some will question Miles but there is no questioning the crystal ball that is sitting in LSU’s trophy case. If it weren’t for Gustav then LSU would have the advantage but it is what it is.
All of the Michigan talk is great for headlines and great for the press but the bottom line is this is not the same Appalachian State team that went into the “Big House” and left with a victory. There are too many holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball for the Mountaineers to hang 34 points on LSU. The Tigers have some question marks of their own but they also have much better talent and depth to work with in addressing those question marks. Give Appalachian State their due because Jerry Moore has a good program and has earned the respect he receives but LSU is too good and too deep. I don’t expect the offense to click on all cylinders and there will probably be plenty of mistakes made on the Tigers’ part but in the end……..
LSU 31 Appalachian State 6