Next up is a trip on the Plains

No. 6 ranked LSU will test the waters of conference play next Saturday when the Tigers travel to No. 9 ranked Auburn to take on the other set of Tigers for a 6:45 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.

Les Miles’ group of Tigers is coming off a 41-3 win over North Texas while Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC) defeated Mississippi State on the road on Saturday in a 3-2 juggernaut.


LSU did not look sharp and sputtered at times on the offensive side of the ball against the Mean Green.


Sure, the offense put up 425 yards of offense but there were more than a few missed opportunities where the quarterbacks didn’t hook up with open receivers or the running game faltered due to the back hitting the wrong hole or a missed block.


That did not come as a huge surprise considering the distractions this team has dealt with for the first three weeks of the season but the Tigers will need to step up their play to win on the road next weekend.


“I think everyone understands the next opponent and we’re all excited about the opportunity to go on the road and play,” Miles said. “They are certainly a very, very good football team and we’re going to have to play well and play better than we have played to win.”


Quarterback play was a big question mark heading into the season and after two games the Tigers still have more questions than answers.


Andrew Hatch has started both games and is 17 of 31 for 202 yards with an interception and a touchdown.


Jarrett Lee has seen less time under center but has very comparable numbers completing 16 of 28 for 200 yards with two scores and one interception.


You would have liked to see one of these two guys create some separation but heading into Auburn it looks as if things will remain the same.


“I still like the idea we have two quarterbacks that will play,” Miles said. “I enjoy that.”


One thing that has helped the young quarterbacks in the early going is a stout running game led by Charles Scott, who leads the Tigers with 262 yards and four touchdowns.


The truly impressive number with the junior from Jonesboro (La.) is the 11.4 yards per carry he brings into the Auburn game and he anchors a rushing attack that is averaging 241 yards a game.


“I like the fact we have balance,” Miles said. “I know we can throw it and run it, and anytime you line up with an offense that can do that, it’s going to be much harder to defend.”


The Tigers from the Plains were plagued by turnovers against Mississippi State as they lost three fumbles, which gave them six for the year, and did not look crisp in their own right in new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin’s spread offense.


No. 9 ranked Auburn tallied only 315 yards (161 rushing and 154 passing) against the Bulldog defense but the defense stifled Sylvester Croom’s offense and yielded only 116 yards to the beleaguered Bulldogs (38 rushing and 78 passing).


Auburn’s offensive woes were especially telling on third down as the Tigers converted only 3 of 16 but the defense pitched a shutout in that department with Mississippi State failing to convert on 14 tries and then missing out on three fourth down attempts.


“We were very poor on third down conversions,” Tommy Tuberville said. “We didn’t get any in the first half and only a couple in the second half. I’m real proud of our defense. Our coaches and players came to play.”


Those numbers are right on par with the way the season has gone with Auburn converting only 28 percent on third down but allowing the opposition to convert only 3 of 46.


While the offense has struggled to move the ball through the first quarter of the season, entering the LSU game averaging 367 yards and 21 points a game, the defense has been stellar.


First year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads’ troops are allowing only 213 yards and five points a contest.


“We have a lot of enthusiasm and some smart guys who understand what this defense is all about,” said Tuberville. “Paul Rhoads has done a good job of carrying on with the enthusiasm and knowing what we’re doing and it’s been fun watching our guys play.”


If this LSU and Auburn contest is anything like the last two on the Plains then look for a defensive battle as Auburn won 7-3 in 2006 and 10-9 in 2004.


There are a few LSU seniors who are 0-2 against the War Eagles at Jordan Hare Stadium and they plan to do everything they can to get rid of that goose egg.


“I’ve been really looking forward to playing next week’s game,” said fifth-year senior Curtis Taylor. “It’s my last chance to beat Auburn on their own turf. I think it’s going to be a really good fight.”


It’s always a fight when these two sets of Tigers tangle and this year’s could be the best of all.

Injury Update


In Miles' Sunday briefing he said it is likely that Darry Beckwith will miss the Auburn game but at this point details are still sketchy as the extent or nature of the injury that he suffered in the first quarter against North Texas.


“There is an injury of significance to Darry Beckwith, and it’s safe to say he won’t be available this week,” Miles said. “I think he’ll be back pretty soon, but I don’t know when.”

While the news may not sound promising for Beckwith it does sound better for Danny McCray.

“There’s a really strong chance that Danny will be back,” said Miles. “I won’t necessarily know today, but he is going to practice on Monday.”

There was no word given on Demetrius Byrd (ankle) and Patrick Peterson (shoulder) regarding their injuries but Miles indicated Saturday night that Byrd could have played in the second half against North Texas.

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