Lopsided Series

LSU and ULL meet for the 22nd time on Saturday and Scouting Analyst Jason Thomas gives his take on the in-state matchup between the Tigers and Ragin' Cajuns.

Last week in Baton Rouge the LSU Tigers statistically dominated an improved Vanderbilt team to start the season 2-0. After struggling against Washington, LSU turned in a much better performance against the Commodores.


Meanwhile, just up the road ULL shocked Kansas State with a late field goal to steal a 17-15 victory. The Cajuns also dominated Southern in their first game for a 42-19 drubbing.


Gameweek Links:
  • TSD Television: Chancey Aghayere
  • Not Looking Ahead
  • TSD Television: Jordan Jefferson
  • TSD Television: Charles Scott
  • Changing Roles
  • You Always Remember Your First
  • Continued Improvement
  • TSD Television: R.J. Jackson
  • TSD Television: Jacob Cutrera
  • A Look Ahead: ULL
  • Riding a huge wave of momentum, the Ragin’ Cajuns head to Death Valley Saturday night to face an improving LSU squad.


    Coach Les Miles said that the Ragin’ Cajuns are a better offensive team than Vanderbilt. That may be true. That being said, the Cajuns certainly aren’t better than Vanderbilt on the defensive side of the ball.


    It sets up well for the Tigers. Can they continue their improvement on defense, and can the offense score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals as the Tigers have scored only three touchdowns in eight trips into the red zone?


    Undoubtedly, ULL will enter the game Saturday night believing that they can pull off the big upset. After getting obliterated in the previous 21 meetings by an average score of 45-1 – and yes that is correct as LSU has outscored ULL 957-22 in the series – the Cajuns will play free and loose with nothing to lose. Many of the Louisiana players on that team will revel in the environment of playing at Tiger Stadium as most were overlooked by LSU in the recruiting process. 


    None of that should matter, but that’s why they play the game.



    When ULL Has the Ball


    ULL brings a balanced attack to Tiger Stadium. Undrea Sails has rushed 39 times for 195 yards and two scores. That’s a solid average of five yards a carry. Sails has caught three passes for a total of 71 yards with one reception for 56 yards and a touchdown.

    LSU faces a Ragin' Cajun offense that averages 410 yards and 29.5 points a game

    The strength of ULL’s offense is an offensive line that returns all five starters for the second consecutive year. Up front the Cajuns are led by 6-foot-3, 291-pound center Chris Fisher who is on the Rimington Award Watch List as well as the Lombardi Award Watch List.


    Quarterback Chris Masson is also playing well. So far, Masson is 38-for-60 on the season for 468 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also has rushed eight times for 53 yards.


    ULL is going to have to establish some sort of running game to have a chance against LSU. Last week the Cajuns held the ball for a mere 23 minutes and that is a recipe for disaster against the Tigers.


    When throwing the ball, Masson likes to target wide receiver Marlin Miller and tight end Luke Aubrey as both players have caught nine passes. Aubrey has two touchdown receptions while Miller has yet to find the end zone this season. You’ll also see Louis Lee who averages 20 yards a catch on five grabs. Sails is an option out of the backfield as well.


    Ball Security will be a key point of emphasis for ULL. In their first two games, ULL has fumbled the ball an alarming five times, and they have lost four.


    On defense, LSU should continue to integrate more man mixed with zone that the Tigers used against Vandy. It’s not the attacking style of play that fans want to see, but it was a 180 from the week before. With three tough SEC games ahead, the Tigers will have to build on last week’s performance.


    Look for Drake Nevis (8 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack) and Rahim Alem (10 tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 sacks), who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after logging seven tackles and a sack against Vanderbilt, to wreak havoc with the ULL offensive line despite that being the area where the Cajuns are most stout. The push up front will allow more clean lanes for linebackers Perry Riley and Harry Coleman.


    Expect the defensive backs to play more press coverage if the field is dry, at least more than they used against Washington on a dry surface. They were much more successful playing tighter in Week 2 as opposed to the opener.



    When LSU Has the Ball


    Expect the unexpected from the Tigers when they have the ball. It would be nice to see LSU start to establish an identity on offense, but it seems that the coaches and players are still getting a feel for their no-huddle attack.


    The Tigers will be balanced when attacking. LSU had 178 total yards in rushing against Vanderbilt and they had 148 yards through the air. They ran the ball 42 times and threw it 30 for 72 total offensive plays. LSU will keep the ULL defense off balance switching formations between a Power-I on first down to an empty back spread formation with Jordan Jefferson in the shotgun.


    Jefferson will continue to manage the team and the game plan. He does not make mistakes. Word is the young signal caller will look to press the ball down the field Saturday night as there wasn’t much vertical action against Vandy. However, some of that had to do with the rain and credit also goes to Vandy for taking that away.


    Terrance Toliver has seven catches for 138 yards and two scores

    Jefferson will spread the football around to any number of playmakers, but expect a big game from Brandon LaFell as 72 yards on 11 catches screams for a coming out party. Also, expect Richard Dickson to get more involved in the offense as LSU has to work the middle of the field to keep the safeties from playing so deep.


    LSU has yet to have a solid game running the ball between the tackles. Keiland Williams has started the 2009 campaign better than at any other point in his career at LSU, but most of his yards have been on the edge and off of option pitches. In his defense, LSU hasn’t tried to run the ball much between the tackles because when they have the line hasn’t gotten a good push up the middle.


    Whether it’s Charles Scott, Williams, or Jefferson, the Tigers should be able to move the football on the ground against ULL. Russell Shepard should also get more opportunities to showcase his talent as well with a road contest at Mississippi State looming.


    Defensively ULL has struggled. They have not recorded a sack on the young season which could mean big trouble for them on Saturday night if they don’t get pressure on Jefferson. 


    Linebacker Antwyn Zanders leads ULL with 24 tackles, 19 solo. Free Safety Maurice Rolle leads the team with two interceptions. 



    Glancing At Special Teams


    Spencer Ortego does the punting and he averages 42.4 yards a punt. Brett Baer handles kickoffs and Tyler Albrecht made a name for himself – at least in the eyes of ULL fans – by kicking last Saturday’s game-winning 48 yard field goal. That’s the only field goal that ULL has kicked this year.


    LSU has the edge in the special teams matchup at every position except for punting as Derek Helton still seems a little shaky and is averaging only 36 yards a boot. The Tigers have yet to have a big play on special teams, but I’m calling it this weekend.



    How We See It


    There’s a possibility of showers on Saturday which wouldn’t help the Tigers cause, but LSU should jump all over ULL.  Ideally for the Tigers, they build a quick and early lead, and then allow some younger players to get some meaningful game experience before the trip to Starkville.


    Russell Shepard should see more action, provided that he can secure the football.  Williams and Scott will both rush for over 100 yards with Scott finding the end zone for the first time this season.


    Jefferson and the offense will finally click and the Tigers roar. The score could be much worse, but Les Miles empties the bench and the Cajuns get a late score.


    LSU 35 ULL 10

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