For those who enjoy the storylines just beneath the surface, this weekend’s match up between LSU and Auburn should entice you.
Sure, there is the Southeastern Conference Western Division rivalry deal, made more heated by the close calls between the sides during a handful of recent run ins.
But, just as appealing should be the battle between two coordinators who are in their first year with their respective programs.
John Chavis, who arrived to LSU after a couple of decades worth of dedication to the Volunteers in Knoxville, leads the Tiger defense against one of the nation’s most prolific offenses: Gus Malzahn’s option-attack.
“I am excited to see how our team matches up, and a part of that is how our defense plays against a talented Auburn offense,” said LSU head coach Les Miles on Wednesday.
After a week’s rest, the Tigers are back at work with game preparation.
Unlike getting ready for Florida’s spread attack, which features a more finesse approach, the LSU defense is prepping for a slugfest of sorts.
“There are some key differences [between Florida and Auburn],” Miles said. “They want to line up in the two back, and come with the toss and then power it. They will sometimes have the quarterback run, but most of the time it is a handoff.
“Our guys enjoy a physical brand of football, and that appears to be the style that Auburn brings. I can tell you this; Auburn has a very good rushing attack. It is going to be a good match up.”
Offensively, the Tigers rank 112th in the NCAA in production. Miles said that the two weeks off served as a time to get everyone on the same page.
“Hopefully the production is noticeable,” he said. “We have improved our knowledge of the game in a few spots, and our execution has been better.”
One player that was unable to establish his role in the play calling over the break was freshman Russell Shepard, who was sidelined with an illness.
“That kind of affected his progress,” Miles said. “We are doing similar things that we have done with him in the past, so I don’t know if he will be a huge focus.”
One freshman that should make his mark is Dominique Allen, who has yet to see a snap this season. When asked what fullback he preferred for the weekend, Miles sided with Allen.
“I am kind of enjoying the young guy, to be honest with you,” he said. “He is seeing some time on the offensive side, and if he continues to improve, I think [he will play].
“The transition from high school to college takes some time. It is unusual that a freshman can come in and understand the intensity with which the position is played.”
Craig Loston, the five-star safety from the Lone Star State, is no longer practicing with the team as a result of a lingering hand injury, according to Miles.
“I don’t know if he has had the surgery yet.”
Running back Richard Murphy, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this year, is back on track with his recovery.
“He had the surgery, and the doctors said everything went well and we expect him to be back in the spring,” Miles said.