Southern Miss heads to Baton Rouge Saturday to take on the LSU Tigers

We talked with LSU publisher Billy Embody to get some insight into the Eagle's next opponent, the LSU Tigers..

This LSU season has had more twists and turns then the newest thrill ride at your local amusement park. Consider in only 6 weeks, they've already had a coaching change, a quarterback change, a last second win overturned by replay, an injured Heisman candidate, and even a hurricane canceled game last weekend.  

LSU (3-2) won their first game under interim coach Ed Orgeron, (42-7 over Missouri) who is now coaching to remain as the head man in Baton Rouge.  In that game against Missouri, LSU produced the most yards in an SEC game in school history with 634.  

The Southern Miss/ LSU game will mark the 3rd meeting between the two schools, with them splitting the two contests.  In 1994, Southern Miss won in Baton Rouge 20-18.  

Despite all the turmoil, there is no denying that the Tigers are loaded with talent.  LSU will bring one of the top rated defenses to the game Saturday, as they are #2 in the SEC overall in scoring defense (14 points per game), and #3 in total defense only giving up 326 yards on average per game.  They also have only given up 5 TD's, leading the nation in that category.

On offense, since Danny Etling has taken over at QB, LSU is 2-1 with one loss coming in a last second replay overturn at Auburn.  With Heisman candidate hopeful Leonard Fournette likely out, Derrius Guice is the man at RB and he's a great one.  He's rushed for 402 yards and 4 TD's this season.  The top WR targets are Travin Dural (18-176), Malachi Dupre (15-136) and D.J. Clark (10-133).

LSU has also won 46 straight games against non-conference opponents in Tiger Stadium.  Interestingly, the last non-conference team to win in Baton Rouge was UAB in 2000.  

To really go inside the other huddle, I talked with one of the best in the business, Billy Embody- publisher of the LSU Scout site.  Enjoy this Q and A to dig deeper into LSU..

Q: How have the players embraced the coaching change and playing for Coach O?  
"It's been night and day really from Les Miles to Ed Orgeron. The two go about their business differently and it's not a knock on Miles, but the players have loved every second it seems of having Orgeron as the coach. All the players are looser and generally seem happier. It was like a huge weight was taken off the team's shoulders when the team thrashed Missouri 42-7 in Orgeron's first game. The players' response to Orgeron has been great to say the least."
Q:  What changes has Coach O brought that are different than what Coach Miles did?
"Orgeron shortened practices, loosened up the players with a jolt of energy and has made it fun again for players to go to work everyday. Orgeron fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron according to reports and named Steve Ensminger offensive coordinator, who opened up in a 4-wide set for the first series against Missouri, which was really unheard of. Offense has been the biggest change. LSU's play calling is much better and the team rotates in players much more to keep them fresh. Nothing much has changed defensively, but offensively, Orgeron has made his mark already."
Q: We know how good LSU is up front and with running the ball with those explosive RB's, but how is the passing game coming along and the change in QB's?
"LSU's offensive line is beaten up, but the team has of course, Leonard Fournette (who has missed a few games) and Derrius Guice, who could start just about anywhere in the country as well. LSU is probably the deepest team in college football at running back and can also roll Darrel Williams and Nick Brossette out there and probably have success.  The passing game has seen a lot of changes with tight ends being used more by new starter Danny Etling and receivers like DJ Chark and Russell Gage have stepped up in addition to Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre. LSU's passing game is much more vertical now and LSU wants to pass to set up the run under Orgeron."
Q:  What is the strength of the defense and how aggressive do you expect them to be under Coach O and his philosophy?
"The strength of the defense is the defensive line I believe. LSU is deep and has arguably the best pass rusher in college football with Arden Key. LSU's secondary also has talented playmakers like Tre'Davious White, the toughest corner in college football to throw at, Donte Jackson and Jamal Adams. They've been tested at times in 1-on-1 situations, but the team is veteran and strong on the back end. At linebacker in this 3-4 look, Kendell Beckwith is playing his best football after spurning the NFL to return to Baton Rouge. The defense has allowed just five touchdowns this season. That's spectacular. Dave Aranda's scheme will only get more aggressive as he continues to get the guys comfortable, but the scheme hasn't really changed since Orgeron took over."

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