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LSU AUBURN PREVIEW II: DENBROCK'S DYNAMIC OFFENSE VS AUBURN'S RUGGED DEFENSE = ???

Updated: Oct 12, 2023


By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN


Check out our LSU-AUBURN PART ONE PREVIEW HERE, where we focused on LSU's sloppy, porous defense & Auburn's disjointed, nearly one dimensional offense and their upcoming collision.

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Now we move to Mike Denbrock's juggernaut 2023 offense, led by Heisman-worthy QB Jayden Daniels, two of the top five best receivers in America (Malik Nabers & Brian Thomas Jr), a true RB1 in Logan Diggs, an elite sophomore TE Mason Taylor (limited by shoulder injury all season), all fronted by an incredible offensive line coached by Brad Davis.

Featuring the current SEC O-lineman of the Week Emery Jones Jr & 2022 Freshman All-American Will Campbell, LSU's mostly young trenchmen continue to grow from strength to strength.

Making the newest (& most significant impact along Coach Davis' O-line, freshman center DJ Chester played 16 critical second half snaps vs Missouri, providing solid protection for a debutant thrown into a crazy SEC shootout, cold from the bench (1 pressure allowed) after Charles Turner's ankle was injured.

You want to see Turner healthy; one of only a few 2019 National Championship veterans remaining on roster, Charles Turner has been eerily consistent and trusted at center, leading a high octane offense from the front.

Still, Chester's rise gives Brad Davis another significant option at a spot where the Tigers are sorely lacking.

Cutting his teeth during high pressure SEC snaps on the road this past weekend, Chester could be ready to start for the Tigers vs Auburn, the home setting being a prime advantage for the debutant.

Davis' O-line expertly protected Daniels, clearing a path for Logan Diggs' 3x 100 yard performances & a 4th appearance with 97.

Set apart as Frank Wilson's clear #1 back, Diggs is beginning to build a filthy resume, carrying LSU for stretches on the road at Mizzou, answering big plays by Ole Miss during a shootout, while bullying Grambling, Mississippi State, or Arkansas.

Diggs will be a massive part of LSU's game plan against Auburn, hoping to take a passing and rushing load off the banged up Jayden Daniels.

But if Auburn are able to stop the running game, LSU have zero problems going deep, as Jayden displayed even during his most battered moments last week.....and there are no two better targets for LSU's Heisman candidate than Malik Nabers & Brian Thomas Jr.

Both receivers are closing in on 1,000 yards apiece, leading the country, placing 2nd or firmly inside the top 5 concerning multiple categories (together the pair notched 15 TDs, 1,314 yards, and 83 catches through the first half of 2023).

But WRU are in desperate need of a third target: While Nabers & Thomas Jr are thus far proving to be virtually impossible for anyone to guard, Mike Denbrock's offense need that extra athletic dynamism to truly set each of the Tigers' playmakers free.

Dealing with his final play leg injury @ Ole Miss, 3rd WR Chris Hilton Jr will be out for a 2nd straight game.

Meanwhile, Kyren Lacy continues to supply 1 steady play per game, 2 TDs on the year, batches of solid run blocking, and an occasional, costly dropped pass.

Clearly, LSU need a 3rd receiving target to back Nabers and Thomas Jr, which should usher in the arrivals of freshman WRs Jalen Brown, Shelton Sampson Jr, as well as Kyle Parker (Brown played 2 snaps, the only freshman WR to play @ Missouri).

First year tight end Mac Markway is playing stretches here or there, but could be utilized far more in the passing game.

Could speed demon Aaron Anderson be ready to rise as we felt he would all year, finally answering the call against a tough, gritty opponent, shaking tackles and showing off that epic pace amid the crisp Baton Rouge evening??

But the offense could be up against it at times vs Auburn.

Without question, Auburn's defense is the best part of their team...and their strongest sample has to be their clinic of guts & intensity vs #1 two time defending National Champions UGA.

Georgia's Carson Beck completed 23 passes for 313 yards vs Auburn, yet only finished off 1 TD, and threw a pick to Jalyn Simpson.

The Bulldogs' leading rusher Daijun Edwards only went for 76, however punched in two monumental scores....and that was it: UGA's second leading rusher only put up 25 that night, barely over 100 total.

Ron Roberts' defense do the little things, executing fine fundamentals of good defense: solid tackling (only 18 missed tackles over 5 games....LSU's defense had 17 vs Ole Miss alone), sustained pressure (8 TFLs vs UGA and 76 total presssures in 5 games), they possess star power in Jaylin Simpson (4 INTs), however, first year coordinator Roberts' defense haven't really faced a decent offensive team.....let alone a juggernaut like Daniels and Co.
As Auburn Head Coach Hugh Freeze admitted, LSU is definitely "the best offensive personnel (he's) seen in this league".....is this an underdog strategy by Freeze?

Auburn may be able to take away one facet of LSU's attack, but not for an entire 4 quarters and I'm not so sure their secondary can hang with Nabers or Thomas Jr, let alone their primal freshman backing or elite tight end accompaniment.

DBs Zaion Puckett and Kayin Lee will be targeted repeatedly by Jayden Daniels (3 TDs allowed, 0 INTs, 3 PBUs & the two most yards of any DB: 161 and 145, surrendering 20.1 and 16.5 per catch), as well as mixing in tight ends Taylor & Markway against linebacker Larry Nixon, who's been suspect when it comes to coverage, giving up the most big plays of any defender on roster (13 catches allowed from 15 targets, equaling over 100 yards, 3rd for yards allowed among Auburn defenders).

In contrast, cornerback DJ James is lockdown, only giving up 99 yards from 11 catches and 0 TDs.....watch for Denbrock to work these matchups to his receivers' advantage:

"Ok....we'll let DJ James take Thomas Jr or Nabers out of the play, supposedly....but let's see how well your guys deal with the other guy being more or less open, let alone Mason Taylor, Jalen Brown, Shelton Sampson Jr or Kyle Parker running amok.....think you can deal with those guys?"

This is a night built for a sustained grind from LSU, punctuated by deep shots down field, and constant opportunism over the middle.

Any crossing routes, slants or ins are difficult for Auburn's secondary (outside of James & Simpson), but more difficult for their safeties & linebacking corps (Nixon, Nixon, Nixon).

Zac Ethridge (safeties) & (cornerbacks) Wesley McGriff's secondary mostly struggle when offenses field 4 receivers, spread them out, and gash their extra secondary personnel through outside runs or delayed underneath passing.

Since Denbrock and Daniels can attack in many different ways, LSU should keep Auburn from utilizing their best personnel by placing more pass catchers on the field.


PREDICTION TIME

I cannot foresee this Auburn team beating LSU...not with a limited to grossly inept offense or a defense that hasn't faced a team anywhere close to the production, talent and speed of Mike Denbrock's thoroughbred unit.

For Auburn to win, they'll have to hold Denbrock and Daniels' offense under 30 and score more than 33....do you think that's possible, even if JD5's rib injury is at its worst and he is unable to throw the deep ball all over the yard for one night????

I don't.

Not at Tiger Stadium and not against this team who have far too much to lose by giving away another game, and way too much to play for: a title for #3.


LSU 38

AUBURN 24


This prediction is based on LSU's center position being settled by either Turner's return or by an average game by Chester.

If DJ Chester struggles considerably against Auburn's front seven, this likely scenario below is even more possible:

It'll be a wild night at Tiger Stadium for 3 quarters.....Daniels and Co frustrated offensively, caught in a foreboding quagmire of defensive struggle, just 17 points on the board heading into the 4th quarter......

.....until a complete and utter purple and gold evisceration of Auburn commences;

After watching a top teammate succumb to injury (we feel a big injury is arriving soon....), Daniels starts rifling passes through coverage after LSU's running game meets a wall, hitting Tiger freshmen who rise above adversity to make plays (Markway, Brown, Sampson).

As if Denbrock and Daniels pushed a button for instant results, our offense racks up 21 points during the 4th quarter alone, no one able to guard Malik Nabers (gaining space due to our successful freshmen), the #1 WR In America almost fools around and racks up 200 yards, scoring 3 pivotal touchdowns (1 right before half, 2 throughout the final period).

Logan Diggs & Jayden Daniels nearly pile up 200 combined yards once again, but it takes clear until the 4th quarter to get the ground game going, all thanks to a breakaway run by Kaleb Jackson....blowing their door off its hinges.

I'm not worried about LSU's offense, even if they face adversity.....the REAL question is????

Even with Auburn's passing game & lazy ground sprawl amounting to a layup on paper defensively, how in the hell could we begin to trust Matt House's defense?

Vs Auburn's abjectly poor offense, House's squad have zero excuses if they fail to produce our finest defensive display of 2023.

But if Payton Thorne or a resurgent and difficult to handle Robby Ashford turn it on, LSU could find themselves caught up in a ground & pound shootout......and while that will happen for spells of the first half and early 3rd quarter, as we predict, I can't see any earthly way Brian Kelly would allow his players to choke this game away.

If LSU's 2023 defensive coaches fail to play the right personnel (Weeks, Womack, Yaites, Swinson, Stamps & Harris at corner, Ryan and Burns at safety, Sam at nickel, plus more snaps for Jefferson), concede 35 or more points to Auburn, surrender 400+ yards, and lose this game to a far less talented or ambitious Hugh Freeze squad, ending their SEC & College Football Playoff aspirations, then Kelly's hammer of change will be swiftly swung....perhaps even before the regular season schedule ends.

OFF. MVP

MALIK NABERS

178 Yards

7 Catches

3 TDs


DEF. MVP

WHIT WEEKS

10 Tackles

1.5 TFLs

1 INT

1 PBU

1 Sack


By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

FOLLOW US ON X: @LonnPhillips

©️ 2023 Uninterrupted Writings Inc

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