Into The Teeth Of The Tiger

Another week, another quality defense to face. Life in the Southeastern Conference - offenses have to earn every inch. It will be no different this week when the Rebels invade Tiger Stadium Saturday afternoon.

LSU's stadium is the Tiger's den.

Their swagger and the way they play football is the Tiger's eyes.

But their teeth - the part of the Tigers that goes for the jugular - is and always has been their defense.

"When you think of LSU, you can't help but think of their defense. Year-in and year-out, their defense is their foundation," said Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze. "They have had some great offenses and great offensive players in their history, but all the way from the Chinese Bandits to today, you identify their program with their defense."

2012 is no different.

Through last week, in SEC games, LSU ranks third in total defense allowing just 287.2 yards a game; third in rush defense allowing just 107.2 yards a game and third in scoring defense allowing just 17.0 points a game.

In a day and age of high-powered offenses, those numbers are certainly formidable and the reason Freeze and Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner understand the magnitude of their assignment this week.

"It seems like I say it every week, but here we go again with another quality defense," Werner said. "They are big, fast, strong - a tough crew.

"They have more speed than most. When you look at their front four, I can't remember when I have seen that much speed coming off the edge, and it's not just their first team, it is their second team too."

Randall Mackey
File Photo

While the edge players are a chief concern, Werner said the Tigers are extremely fast across the board on defense.

"Their whole team has speed. They are just really fast and athletic at every position, but their edge players are what allows them to get to you with a four-man rush," he explained.

There will also be a higher premium on accuracy from Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace.

"The window to throw in is smaller due to their speed. You have to be really accurate. Sometimes you can get away with being a foot or two behind a receiver, but against these guys, you can't often," Dan stated.

Werner has been pleased with the way the Rebels have responded this week after a tough loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday.

"They have done great, but I said after the game it all comes from how the head coach handles things. If he's still talking about it days later, they will be too," Werner noted. "Coach Freeze has done a great job of moving on, making us as a staff move on and consequently the players follow the lead and move on."

The burning question that lingered from an offensive standpoint after the Vandy game was where was do-all athlete Randall Mackey, who had limited touches against the Dores?

"You know, we actually kicked ourselves after the last game about not playing him enough," Werner stated. "Jeff (Scott) has been doing such a good job and we were in a personnel group where he and Jeff are both in there and we just didn't call it that much last week against the defense we were seeing.

"We definitely will get him in there more this week."

There won't be any significant personnel changes this week against the Tigers other than the absence of TE Ferbia Allen, out with a torn MCL from the Vanderbilt game.

"We will go with Jamal Mosley and H.R. Greer. We can still use our two-TE packages, but it definitely thins us out a little bit," Dan said. "We will have to go with more three and four wide sets, but we still have the option to go with two tight ends.

"H.R. does a good job. We don't put the tight end's hand on the ground a lot anyway. We move them around, motion them and other things and H.R. will be good doing that since he is a former fullback used to those duties. We have a lot of faith in H.R. He is tough, he's experienced and he's been in big games before."

Dan rested Wallace at Tuesday's practice to allow him a day toward "healing" of a sore, bruised throwing shoulder.

"I have been pleased with how the day of rest helped him. He looked good this week when we brought him back," Dan closed.

Into the teeth of the Tiger - the LSU defense.

A full day's work.

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