The Tigers had quarterback issues in 2004 just like they do now. Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell both struggled to replace Matt Mauck at quarterback, just as Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch have had their problems in trying to fill the void left by Matt Flynn.
Troy was LSU’s Homecoming opponent in 2004 and the Trojans will once again serve in that capacity this weekend.
This will mark only the second time the two teams have met and LSU (6-3, 3-3 SEC) was coming off a BCS national championship in both meetings.
If you’re looking for a blowout win by the Tigers then you may want to prepare yourself because Troy (6-3, 4-1 SBC) makes a habit out of playing the big boys close and not making it easy.
The Trojans are catching LSU at the perfect time too rather had they met in week two, five days after Hurricane Gustav hit Baton Rouge. Head coach Larry Blakeney has seen enough of the Tigers on film to know their weaknesses and that would be an advantage for Troy at this stage of the game.
Despite coming off a narrow loss to top-ranked Alabama where LSU played much better in certain areas, the Tigers are ripe for the picking this week. Jarrett Lee’s confidence is shaky at best and he will face a defense that is third in the country with 16 picks.
Troy has won four of its last five games after starting off the year 2-2 with a pair of road losses at Ohio State (28-10) and Oklahoma State (55-24), while the Tigers have dropped three of their last five.
A non-conference opponent is just what LSU needs to gain some confidence heading down the stretch, but this Troy team is not your typical rent-a-win when you step out of SEC play.
A Look at Troy’s Offense
Levi Brown will start his fifth consecutive game on Saturday and the Trojans are 3-1 with the junior signal caller at the helm. He’s completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,227 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, which is far better than the guy he replaced in Jamie Hampton, who tossed nine scores and eight interceptions in five starts.
Troy is ranked 19th in the country and tops in the Sun Belt with 265 passing yards a game, and the Trojans average 31 points a contest.
The Trojans put a lot of people in motion and Blakeney likes to get the ball in Jernigan’s hands anyway he can. You’ll see him line up in the backfield at times, on the outside and in the slot. He’s the Trojans’ biggest playmaker and also the leading receiver with 54 grabs for 666 yards and five touchdowns.
Brown will also look for Kennard Burton (37-374) and Harris (25-166-2) out of the backfield.
Troy has a good offensive line that averages a little over 6-2, 298 pounds. The Trojans have allowed only seven sacks on the year and the men up front are paving the way for a rushing attack that picks up 4.8 yards a clip.
A Look at Troy’s Defense
The Trojans have the top ranked defense in the Sun Belt, but that isn’t saying much.
Troy leads the league at scoring defense, giving up 21 points a game, and total defense at 324 yards an outing.
Troy’s troops yield 135 yards on the ground and are led up front by defensive end Brandon Lang. He leads the team with 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, to go along with his 44 tackles and two forced fumbles.
New Orleans-native Dion Gales is tied for second on the team with 5.5 sacks from his nose guard spot and he’s added 36 stops including nine for a loss.
Troy’s back seven has made a lot of plays this season and is a big reason why the Trojans lead the conference at giving up 188 yards a game through the air. But the pressure by the front four deserves some kudos as well for the 26 sacks Troy has on the year.
The leader in the defensive backfield is senior free safety Sherrod Martin, who has a team-leading four interceptions and 10 passes broken up. Moore has added three interceptions from his linebacker spot and Lee has picked off a couple of passes too.
A Look at Troy’s Special Teams
Jorrick Calvin (18-507-1) has already taken one back to the house on kickoffs and he’s a legitimate threat for the Trojans.
Troy can look to 2004 as a sign for hope, but any edge the Trojans may have had went out the window when several players started talking smack early in the week.
The loss to Alabama stung LSU, but this team has always responded the following week.
Les Miles has never lost two games in a row since he’s been at LSU and he’s going to keep that streak intact.
Troy isn’t going to go down easy and this one will be much closer than Tiger fans would like.
Charles Scott (156-981-13) will break the 1,000-yard mark on his first carry and the Tigers will score on their opening drive.
However, the offense will sputter and Troy will keep it close at halftime.
Jarrett Lee will come alive in the second half and the Tigers will tack on a few scores and pull away late in the third.
LSU 34, Troy 17