A PREVIEW OF THE LSU AT MSU FOOTBALL GAME

<b>LSU (3-2, 1-2) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-4, 0-3)</b><P> Television: espn2 (Dave Barnett, Mike Golic, Bill Curry, Michele Tafoya).<BR> The Series: LSU leads, 58-33-3 (LSU leads, 7-6-1, @ Starkville)<BR> Last Meeting: LSU, 45-38 (ot), on Oct 21, 2000, in Baton Rouge.<P>

The goals that the Mississippi State family made before the season have been tossed out of the window. Pride and respect, and the outside shot at a strong finish and bowl appearance, are all that is left. But can the Bulldogs do it? Do they have it left in them? We'll know after Saturday. What has been the most disappointing start in the Sherrill era can turn into an entertaining fortnight. They'll have to break the LSU hex for that to happen.

LSU'S SCHEDULE:
9.1 Tulane W 48-17
9.8 Utah State W 31-14
9.29 @ Tennessee L 18-26
10.6 Florida L 15-44
10.13 @ Kentucky W 29-25
10.20 @MISS. STATE 8:00
10.27 Ole Miss TBA
11.3 @ Alabama TBA
11.10 Middle Tennessee 7:00
11.23 Arkansas 1:30
12.1 Auburn TBA

LSU'S COACH

Nick Saban
- Is 11-6 in his second season at LSU.
- 54-32-1 overall, with stints at Toledo and Michigan State.
- In his only season at Toledo, led them to a 9-2 record and a share of the MAC title.
- Spent the 1991-94 seasons as defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.
- Never had a losing record in seven years as a collegiate head coach.
- Led teams to 5 bowl games in 7 years.

LSU'S OFFENSE

LSU likes balance, and has had most of its success when they have equally distributed the pass and the run. ROHAN DAVEY is having a record breaking year, and receiver JOSH REED has yet to having a less-than-100 yards receiving game. Against State, the Tigers will almost certainly try to establish the run and grind it out. They probably think they can have some success running the ball. State will try to put pressure on Davey, forcing him into mistakes.

WHO'S HOT: Receiver Josh Reed. He has five 100-yard receiving games in five games this year. Had 8 catches for 160 yards last week versus Kentucky.

WHO'S NOT: Running back Domanick Davis. After helping lead the Tigers to a Peach Bowl berth last year, he has fallen off the radar screen, averaging 15 yards rushing a game.

LSU'S OFFENSIVE BACKFIELD

QB 6 ROHAN DAVEY (6-3.239.SR)
- 87-151 for 1,375 yards and 6 TDs through 5 games.
- is completing 57.6 percent of his passes and has a QB rating of 143.25.
- had career-best 383 yards passing last week at Kentucky, which was third-best all-time at LSU.
- has 3 300-yard passing games in his two-year career.

TB 22 LaBRANDON TOEFIELD (6-0.225.SO)
- 97 rushes for 430 yards through five games.
- has 9 TDs, becoming the fastest Tiger to score 9 touchdowns.
- leads the SEC in scoring.
- averaging 4.4 yards a rush, 86 yards a game.
- had 129 yards and a score last week at Kentucky.

TB 26 DEVERY HENDERSON (6-0.190.SO)
- questionable for Saturday's game (ankle).
- team's second-leading rusher, with 37 carries for 227 yards.
- averaging 6.1 yards a rush and almost 57 yards a game.
- has not scored a td yet.

LSU'S RECEIVERS

FL 25 JOSH REED (5-11.205.JR)
- 32 catches for 667 yards.
- has scored just once.
- averaging 133.4 yards per game.
- averaging nearly 21 yards per catch this season.
- has recorded 9 catches for more than 25 yards this season.
- is 5th all-time on LSU's receiving list.

SE 14 MICHAEL CLAYTON (6-4.185.FR)
- 20 catches for 315 yards and 3 TDs.
- caught game-winning pass with 13 seconds left to beat Kentucky last week.
- averaging 63 yards per game.
- averaging nearly 16 yards a catch.
- is a true-freshman

SE 3 JEREL MYERS (5-11.180.JR)
- 17 catches for 213 yards, no scores.
- averaging 42.6 yards receiving per game.

TE 86 ROBERT ROYAL (6-5.261.SR)
- has 10 catches for 116 yards and a score.

LSU'S OFFENSIVE LINE

LT 60 RODNEY REED (6-4.288.SO)

LG 72 STEPHEN PETERMAN (6-4.300.SO)

C 73 ROB SALE (6-2.310.JR)

RG 78 DWAYNE PIERCE (6-3.315. SR)

RT 69 JASON BAGGETT (6-5.310.SR)

LSU'S DEFENSE

The Tigers' Achilles heel has been the defense. LSU is 11th in the SEC in scoring defense (25.2), 12th in pass defense (335.4) and 11th in total defense (442.0). Those certainly aren't championship-caliber numbers. That doesn't mean it will be easy for Mississippi State (see Troy State). However, it presents an opportunity for the Dogs to do some things offensively, especially in the passing game, where LSU appears to be most vulnerable. Expect State to still try to establish the run against a stingy run defense before trying to exploit the weak LSU secondary.

WHO'S HOT: The LSU rush defense is 4th-best in the conference, allowing just 106 yards per game.

WHO'S NOT: LSU's secondary. They have been awful at times. A big-time receiver (see Kelly Washington) can have big games against the secondary. But I'm not sure MSU has found one.

LSU'S DEFENSIVE LINE

LE 54 KENDERICK ALLEN (6-6.300.JR)
- has 15 tackles, 1 for a loss.
- has 1 fumble recovery.

LT 91 MUSKINGUM BARNES (6-2.265.SR)
- 15 tackles with a team-leading 5 tackles for a loss.
- tied for the team lead with 2 sacks.
- has recovered a fumble.

RT 93 CHAD LAVALAIS (6-3.270.SO)
- 27 tackles, which leads the defensive line starters.
- 2 tackles for a loss.
- team-leading 11 qb hurries.

RE 59 JARVIS GREEN (6-3.265.SR)
- 17 tackles, 3 for a loss.
- has a sack, a fumble recovery and 8 qb hurries.

LSU'S LINEBACKERS

SLB 56 JEREMY LAWRENCE (6-3.236.JR)
- has 12 tackles and a qb hurry to his credit.

MLB 7 TREV FAULK (6-3.230.JR)
- second on the team in tackles, with 50.
- 33 were solo tackles.
- has two tackles for loss and two qb hurries.

WLB 11 BRADIE JAMES (6-3.238.JR)
- team's leading tackler, with 51 (33 solo).
- has two tackles for a loss.
- tied for the team lead with 2 sacks.
- has recorded 5 qb hurries.

LSU'S SECONDARY

LCB 1 ERIN DIAMOND (5-11.180.SO)
- second on the team with 3 interceptions.
- has team-leading 8 pass break-ups.
- has 21 tackles to his credit.

RCB 33 DEMETRIUS HOOKFIN (5-11.174.JR)
- 20 tackles, one for a loss.
- has 7 pass break-ups.

SS 28 LIONEL THOMAS (6-0.204.SR)
-second in the secondary with 32 tackles, four for a loss.
- has 1 interception and 3 qb hurries.

FS 2 RYAN CLARK (6-0.192.SR)
- leads secondary in tackles (35).
- has 5 pass break-ups.

LSU'S SPECIAL TEAMS

P 80 DONNIE JONES (6-3.217.SO)
- averaging 43.5 yards a punt.
- longest is 68 yards.
- has punted 6 inside the 20.
- has not had one blocked.

PK 40 JOHN CORBELLO (5-11.220.JR)
- 7-of-10 on field goals.
- 5-of-5 from inside the 40.
- longest is 46 yards.
- 14-of-16 in PATs.

POINTS OF INTEREST

- LSU has won 8-of-9 and 13-of-16 against State.
- Sherrill is 2-11 versus LSU.
- This is the third road game in four outings for LSU.
- LSU is 11-0 under Saban when scoring 20+ points, 0-6 when not.
- LSU is on pace to shatter a large number of offensive records, team and individual.
- LSU is 37-9 when rushing for 100+ yards since 1990.
- LSU is averaging 36 points in their three wins this season, and 16.5 points in their two losses.
- LSU leads the SEC in third down conversions (44-78).
- State is 2-8 versus LSU on televised games.
- MSU is 24-12 in regular-season, network TV games the last four seasons, but is 5-7 on espn2.
- State is 8-1 at home under the lights dating back to 1998.
- State is 25-19-1 after a loss under Sherrill.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

- State will try to run the football, then pass, even though LSU is much weaker in the secondary.
- MSU will throw it deep early.
- State will try a trick play early. They always do against LSU.
- LSU will try to run the ball early and establish balance.
- If State can make things interesting early, expect a rowdy crowd. But if they don't, it will get quiet.
- Fant to play more.

OUTLOOK

This will be an interesting game. Can State right the ship? Can they get it right? Will the offense find a way to move the ball against one of the more porous defenses in the SEC? The new season starts Saturday night. The Mississippi State players need to dig deep and find the stuff inside of them that it will take to get things done. If they do, they will probably win. But if they continue to spiral downward, they won't. It is that simple.

LSU 25
MSU 20


Aaron SonesAaron Sones is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. Aaron, who is a student at Mississippi State University, works part-time in the MSU Athletic Department. He is also co-host of WFCA FM 108's Gameday show which airs two hours prior to each football game. You can contact him by email at asones8@aol.com.


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