LSU-VANDY: Inside the matchups
Head to Head:
Vanderbilt LB vs. LSU QB Moses Osemwegie vs. JaMarcus Russell
The Vanderbilt defense isn't all that flashy, but Moses Osemwegie is a shining star. Leading the team in total tackles with 46 stops in five games, Osemwegie has an overwhelming 35 solo tackles. The 6-0, 228-pound Nashville native also has four tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Not too shabby on a team known mostly for its offense. A sure all-SEC pick, Osemwegie will get to know LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell for sure.
Vanderbilt WR vs. LSU CB Erik Davis vs. Chevis Jackson
Chevis Jackson is quickly growing into the role of the picked on cornerback. Like Demetrius Hookfin was for several years at LSU, Jackson is the primary target by opposing quarterbacks. While Ronnie prude will likely draw Vanderbilt's top receiver Erik Davis, look for quarterback Jay Cutler to try and locate the mismatch. Davis is the Commodores leading receiver with 35 catches for 445 yards and touchdowns. He has notched 100-yard receiving performances versus Arkansas (7-110) and Ole Miss (8-107) and is averaging eight catches per game.
Player to Watch:
Jay Cutler QB, Senior 6-4, 225 Heritage Hills HS Santa Claus, Ind.
Why it is important to stop him?
Not only is Jay Cutler the engine that makes Vanderbilt's offense run, the senior Vanderbilt quarterback is one of the nation's top quarterbacks and is likely a high-round draft pick. Leading the Commodores to a 4-1 start, Cutler has completed 126 of 206 passes for 1,376 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Cutler is averaging 276 yards per game and is coming off his worst game versus Middle Tennessee State (26-44, 245 yards). He threw for a season high 314 against Ole Miss.
Who has to stop him?
The entire LSU defense has to be caution with Cutler. Not only is he one of the most accurate passer in the nation, the Santa Claus, Indiana native is a dual threat. Cutler has rushed for 241 yards on 46 carries and scored a touchdown. Not only will the LSU secondary have to be on its toes, but the front four as well as Cutler can take off utilizing excellent speed and agility.
LSU rushing offense vs. Vanderbilt rushing defense:
Running the ball hasn't been a big problem for the LSU Tigers. While the Tigers have sorely missed bruising tailback Alley Broussard, LSU has ran the all respectably on the efforts of Joseph Addai. The Tigers are averaging 156 yards a game and sport a bigger and more talented offensive line than a Vanderbilt defense, allowing 148 yards a game, can handle.
LSU passing offense vs. Vanderbilt passing defense:
Vanderbilt hasn't been all that great on defense this season. As a unit, the Commodore stoppers have given up 363 total yards a game, 54th nationally. The Vandy secondary is average at best allowing 215 yards passing per game against teams not known for their aerial prowess, a la Arkansas, Ole Miss and Middle Tennessee State. JaMarcus Russell is coming off a record day at Mississippi State and seems to be gaining confidence in the offensive system.
Vanderbilt rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense:
No one has ran against the LSU defense, and considering who the Tigers have played, it is likely anyone can – or will. The LSU defense has shut down the SEC's two best running backs, that being Tennessee's Gerald Riggs and Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood. Vanderbilt's ground attack is led by Cassen Jackson-Garriso, who is averaging six yards per carry, but is hardly on the level of running games the Tigers have faced so far.
Vanderbilt passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:
The LSU secondary was much improved against Mississippi State. However, the Tigers are going up against the second best quarterback they have faced this season next to Arizona State's Sam Keller. Jay Cutler is the most versatile quarterback in college football with a strong arm, who can throw short and deep passes, and possesses the speed and quickness to tuck it and run when need be. Keller and Tennessee's Rick Clausen harassed the LSU defense with a barrage of short passes. Look for more of the same from Cutler.
LSU special teams vs. Vanderbilt special teams:
The recent punting success of LSU's Chris Jackson is enough to give the Tigers a nod here. Jackson's pooch and angled punting has put opposing offenses in precarious situations time and again. Skyler Green is having an all-SEC season returning kicks almost breaking it for a touchdown every time he touches the ball. Colt David missed an extra point last week, but has been more than efficient compared to LSU's most recent history. Vanderbilt's Bryan Hahnfeldt handles both the kicking and punting duties for the Commodores. He has made 13 of 14 extra points and is 8 of 11 on field goals, plus he is averaging 41.2 yards per punt, all pretty good numbers The Commodore return game is nothing special so we will call this even.
This was being billed as one of those games you thought would be a blowout in the preseason and was growing into a must-see game. With the Commodores on a roll and the Tigers slumping, Vanderbilt was being installed an upset favorite. However, things have a changed a bit as Vandy blew its four-game winning streak with a loss to Middle Tennessee State and LSU got it turned around a bit beating Miss. State 37-7. LSU typically doesn't play well in Nashville and Vandy is looking to prove the loss to the Blue raiders was a fluke. Throw in the fact the game will be on ESPN, the first prime time game ever in Nashville where the Dores have a chance, the edge goes to VU.
Vanderbilt is the underdog favorite by college football fans everywhere. The Commodores have been so bad traditionally that you can't help but cheer for them. It has been entertaining to say the least to watch Vandy get off to a 4-0 start and see the excitement in one of college football's most downtrodden programs. But, in typical Vanderbilt fashion, the Commodores were brought back down Earth last weekend with an embarrassing loss to Middle Tennessee State. Look for the grim reality of the SEC's upper echelon to be even more ice-water on the face Saturday as LSU continues to get well on offense. Vanderbilt can score points, but the Tigers should out-muscle the SEC upstarts.
LSU 41, Vanderbilt 15
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