Updated: Sep 13
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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Many fans will see Miss St on our schedule and feel zero fear, barely any agitation, not much concern, it's just an SEC test that BK, JD5 and Co will take care of........right?
Traveling to Starkville, the Tigers' second road trip out of three games, their first scheduled SEC opponent, another extremely early 11am central time kickoff, facing QB Will Rogers for the third time, and an opponent that always seems to give LSU a ton of trouble.....you can't dismiss Mississippi State so easily:
Last fall, LSU won by double digits in the end (31-16), however it is definitely worth noting that Miss State led by double digits themselves.
In 2021, we played a form of air raid prevent defense, allowing 5-6 yard catches all day, yet giving up nothing inside the red zone (28-25), living off two Cordale Flott turnovers to outlast the Bulldogs.
In 2020, Miss St walked on to our field, in our first game as defending National Champions, as a pandemic raged in the background, and proceeded to throttle LSU back to the stone age with over 600 passing yards & 44 points....a game that was the late Mike Leach's SEC debut.
In 2019, only three teams held Burrow's greatest ever offense under 40 points: Auburn, Georgia and Miss St...(36-13).
Hell, they nearly emasculated Joe later in that same game!
In fact, we haven't scored more than 36 points vs Mississippi State since 2013.....during most of those matchups, LSU's point total lingers below 30.
Miss St QB Will Rogers threw for 104 total attempts over his last 2 appearances vs the Tigers, completing 4 touchdowns. He also threw 2 INTs and most importantly, owns an 0-2 record vs LSU.
But it's a new season for Rogers and a new offensive set up, starting the year 2-0 with an opening 48-7 win over Southeastern, followed by last weekend's wild 31-24 overtime victory against Arizona, running the ball is becoming the Bulldawgs' identity for the first time in 3 or 4 years.
Mississippi State are currently running the ball 39 times per game, 16 more rushing plays than passing attempts....a complete reversal after Rogers' 62 and 42 attempt outings vs LSU in 2022 and 2021.
Lead rusher Jo'quavious Marks already accumulated 43 carries, 250 yards and 3 scores on the ground, including consecutive appearances over 120 yards and a TD; Meanwhile, Marks' 91 receiving yards ranks 2nd on the team as well....time for a crazy stat???
Marks also produced 91 yards after catch.....from 91 total receiving yards....meaning....all of his yards come after catch.....what the?
Elsewhere, running back Mike Wright is high value at 92 yards off just 6 rushes.
Still, regardless of lesser passing attempts, Will Rogers is also becoming more efficient as a passer despite the lack of volume: right now, Rogers is 33 of 46 for a 71% completion rating, 389 passing yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs after two games.
On the perimeter, WR Lideatrick Griffin is the one who will threaten LSU's porous secondary the most on Saturday morning, reeling in 2 touchdowns and 116 yards (102 after catch) against both Arizona & Southeastern (9 catches from 11 total targets).
To compare, Griffin hauled in only 4 touchdowns in 2022 alongside just over 500 yards across 13 games...clearly illustrating the former 4 star's progress thus far in 2023.
Mississippi State's offense are also hanging in tough when Rogers throws the ball, only suffering 1 dropped pass in 2 games compared to LSU's 6.
Zach Arnett's defense are playing at a solid level, surrendering just 31 total points from 2 games, intercepting 4 passes, & a steady supply of pressure, they're still increasingly susceptible through the air, namely exposing their linebackers within Arnett's favored 3-3-5 system (by forcing them into coverage).
While former St James High DB Shawn Preston Jr registered a 2023 interception, just like linebacker teammates Jett Johnson (2 INTs) and Nathaniel Watson, all 3 defenders allowed more than 5 catches through dual appearances; DeCamerion Richardson stands as the most targeted Miss St defender (13) giving up the highest amount of catches (9).
Watson, Preston Jr and Jett Johnson all have a completion percentage over 80%, with Preston allowing 7 catches from all 7 targets his way.....so there will definitely be plenty of opportunities for Daniels to take shots on these inconsistent LBs and DBs, aside from Jett Johnson.
A superb talent, Jett Johnson even leads the team in sacks (2.0), while the entire defense packed on an impressive 12 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hurries, 10 pass breakups, 4 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles.
But with nasty freshman Lance Heard at right tackle and thoroughbred Emery Jones Jr shifting to right guard, we are about to witness the LSU offensive line we should've seen against Florida State:
Straight up, LSU should be getting at least one solid 125 yard day out of one of their backs & one of their top receivers, but I'd like to see Denbrock tinker with personnel, offering Aaron Anderson, Jalen Brown, Kaleb Jackson or Mac Markway chances to play key roles.
Keys to look for:
Zach Arnett's game management is out of whack throughout their first two games. Situationally, it's shocking he hasn't lost a game yet.
Unbelievably, Miss State's offense may have gone from one extreme to another, moving on from the air raid to a more "methodical" run-based approach: for example, QB Will Rogers only tossed 17 total attempts over 54 snaps vs Arizona.....without a doubt, Miss St have buried their air raid roots quickly.
Against LSU's scattershot defense, Miss State's more conservative offense could trouble the soft center of Matt House's unit. Forget the secondary....it's up to the Tigers' defensive front to take this game over.
Will LSU's front seven sustain pressure for the first time in 3 games???
To help their QB, Miss State's offensive line only gave up 12 total pressures and just 1 sack.....foreboding numbers for LSU's current pass rushing doldrums (LSU: 1 sack and 24 pressures after 2 games).....however, I feel John Jancek / Bob Diaco / Matt House's front 7 are about to showcase a vulgar display of power this Saturday morning, led by #18 Mekhi Wingo and a violent, menacing secondary presence from Greg Brooks Jr.
MISS ST 13
-Once again, another high octane Tigers offense is held under 40 points, hell....even 30!
-Repeating their pressure from 2022 with another trio of sacks and hits on Daniels, LSU's offense struggles to generate anything through the air or on the ground until late in the 2nd half, where they pull away from the 15-13 scoreline with 2 quick fire touchdowns from Aaron Anderson & running back John Emery Jr, answering Logan Diggs' full game consistency.
-LSU rely on a brutal outing from their front seven to bandaid their coverage, however first sacks of the year for Perk, Maason Smith and Mekhi Wingo help to bury Mississippi State, alongside a critical interception by Major Burns.
-1 PBU creates Burns INT
2 QB Hits
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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