A battle of heavyweights

If Saturday's contest was a prize fight with the starting quarterback of each team being a heavyweight boxer then fans should not count on them going the distance. Both LSU and Auburn have used two quarterbacks extensively in the early part of the 2008 campaign and heading into Saturday's clash the chances of more than one guy taking snaps for both teams looks like a safe bet.

Well, at least for one of them.

 

Andrew Hatch has started both games for No. 6 ranked LSU and in those two outings he has completed 17 of 31 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

 

The sophomore transfer from Harvard says that he is progressing each week and one can point to the Tigers’ final touchdown drive against North Texas where Hatch drove his team 80 yards in 10 plays for the final score of the game for those signs of improvement.

 

He was 4 of 6 for 48 yards on that march which included a big third down pass to Brandon LaFell that kept the drive alive.

 

“It felt good,” Hatch said. “I thought it was a good drive for us and we ran a few plays that we really hadn’t run before. There was a little bit more of the passing and passes down the field so I felt good about it.”

 

This week there will be much higher stakes with LSU having to travel into a hostile environment. Add to the fact that the home team has won the last eight meetings in this series and you have the recipe for what should be a great game.

 

“It’s a big game for us and we want to make the most the most of our opportunity starting SEC play which is obviously important for us,” Hatch said. “It’s our first new environment playing somewhere other than Tiger Stadium and there are a few things we’ll have to adjust to and be prepared for but the coaches will do like they always do and have us ready.”

 

As for Hatch, who will not only be making his first start on the road but also taking his first snap away from Tiger Stadium, he does not appear to be rattled with what is awaiting him at No. 9 ranked Auburn. 

 

“I feel pretty good overall,” he said. “It will be a little different going into that first road environment and the noise will be different not having our home fan base but it is fun to go on the road too.”

 

While Hatch has taken 88 snaps under center in the first two games, redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee has also gotten significant time and has received 42 snaps.

 

Lee’s stats are very comparable, and even a tad better in a few categories, as he has hit on 16 of 28 passes for 200 yards with two scores and one interception.

 

Miles has indicated that Hatch will start against the Tigers on Saturday but don’t be surprised if you see Lee get some time and possibly even the third quarterback.

 

“I’m really pleased with the development of the two quarterbacks that we plan to play a lot,” said Miles.

 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan Jefferson [No. 9] played in this game to be very frank with you,” added Miles.

Being the No. 2 guy and not knowing when your number is going to get called can sometimes be tough to deal with but the redshirt freshman from Brenham, Texas has the right attitude towards his current role.

 

“You just have to stay focused throughout the whole game and each and every day in practice work hard,” Lee said. “And when your number gets called just be prepared because you never know when it’s going to get called. When it does, just be prepared.”

 

Preparation is going to be key for the Tigers’ signal callers and one thing that the coaches can’t simulate in practice is the butterflies that a youngster feels when they go on the road to a place like Jordan Hare Stadium.

 

“I think I got all of those out and I’m kind of used to the team and everything but it will be a different environment for me,” said Lee. “There will still be a few butterflies there but I’m looking forward to it.”

 

Not only will LSU have to deal with a raucous crowd come Saturday but also a defense that is ranked in the top 10 nationally in several statistical categories including 3rd in scoring defense at 5.0 points a game, 9th in run defense at 53 yards a game, and 10th at total defense with 213 yards a game.

 

Those numbers are very impressive but the one that could really pose problems to LSU’s young quarterbacks is third down conversions where the Auburn troops have allowed teams to convert only 3 of 46 on the year.

 

First year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads has done a tremendous job during his brief stint and Hatch expects the Tigers to be as good as advertised on that side of the ball.

 

“They’re real solid,” he said. “They do a good job and they have good athletes and just run their scheme well. They’re doing a really good job and it will be a good challenge for us.”

 

It will be a good challenge and that goes for both sets of Tigers. The ones from the bayou and the ones from the plains.


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