The Texas A&M Aggies and the LSU Tigers are all set to square off Thursday night in Kyle Field. The atmosphere is sure to be intense as both teams, and coaches still have things to play for.
Each week we like to pose five questions with someone who knows the opponent better than we do. This week for a closer look at the Tigers we talk with Tiger Blitz Publisher Billy Embody.
Aggie Digest: Yet again this game approaches with some degree of questions surrounding the head coaches of the two teams. Last year’s speculation seemed to fuel LSU’s win over the Aggies in Baton Rouge. Do you think the coaching rumors will play a role in the game this time around?
Billy Embody: LSU has played hard for Orgeron since he's got the interim gig and the Florida game was no exception. LSU just didn't execute, shot themselves in the foot and here they are now following that loss to Florida. If anything, I expect LSU to play harder in a last-ditch effort to keep Orgeron as the head coach. Given that it's on Thanksgiving, the short week will help LSU keep their minds off any coaching moves because I don't think anything will happen by then. It'll just be about football for LSU and winning a game. The true test of if Orgeron is even a viable option is if he can get this team to come together and perform on the road at Kyle Field.
AD: What one position group on each side of the ball do you feel LSU needs to have play at a high level for them to come away with the win Thanksgiving night?
Embody: It's easy to point to quarterback, but the offensive line has to take over this game. The group has to give Danny Etling enough time to make plays with the tough pass rush of Texas A&M first and foremost. LSU though will need to run the football and I think this matches up well for them to do so, but it's on the offensive line to make that happen. The team still rushed for 200+ yards against a tough Florida defense. The team is looking to have similar success like the Tigers did against Arkansas. Again, the offensive line has to be ready.
AD: As you pointed out afterwards, LSU’s defense seems much different without Kendall Beckwith. Has his availability been cleared up yet for this week and if he is unavailable, who is likely to try and fill his role.
Embody: He's been ruled out. Donnie Alexander will get the start there at middle linebacker, but Duke Riley will take a lot of the duties as far as calling plays. Alexander is about 30 pounds lighter than Beckwith and of course, not the Butkus finalist that Beckwith is, but he's quicker and runs well in space. LSU will likely be in the nickel/dime a lot so it'll be interesting to see how they use personnel with Beckwith out.
AD: Again, maybe too early in the week but what are the expectations on Fournette’s availability for Thursday night.
Embody: Leonard Fournette wasn't expected to play against Florida and I think he'll be a gametime decision again for LSU. The Tigers don't necessarily need him as Derrius Guice is more than capable of taking the load, but you can't discount potentially having a running back of his caliber. I think he plays in what could be his last college regular season game.
AD: Do you have a feel for how you believe the game will play out? Also a prediction
Embody: I think LSU uses a similar gameplan offensively against the Aggies with a heavy dose of the running game and keeping Danny Etling to high-percentage throws. Defensively, LSU will have to man up in coverage against the toughest group of skill players the Tigers will face all season. If LSU can force Jake Hubenak into some bad decisions, LSU should come away with the win. LSU's defense is extremely tough. I have a tough time seeing many points on the board in this one. 24-17 LSU.