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INSIDE SLANT

For a Fresno State team with a history of playing "anyone, anytime, anywhere," No. 14 LSU is not just another tough road opponent from a BCS conference.

"I put them right up there with Oklahoma in 2003 when they were ranked No. 1," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "But LSU is right up there with them, especially on defense. This is going to be a great, great challenge.

"Watching them, watching Florida and watching Auburn on film, I've got a new respect for the SEC. When you watch these teams, not on TV, but on film, you get a whole new understanding of what makes them so good. This is the real deal -- football played at a different speed in a different atmosphere."

While LSU is 0-2 on the road this season with losses at Auburn and Florida, the Tigers are 5-0 at home, prevailing by a combined score of 236-30. Despite LSU's success this season and Fresno State's atypical 1-5 record, the Tigers still know the Bulldogs by their reputation for beating big-name programs on the road.

"They are really known for being able to reach up and strike great, talented opponents," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Their record does not really depict their strength."

That's why the Tigers (5-2, 2-2 SEC) need to take this game seriously and keep improving this week, particularly in the running game.

"When I think about Fresno State I think about a team that doesn't quit," LSU defensive end Chase Pittman told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "They play hard for four quarters, and when you get up on them, you can't relax. They just come back. Pat Hill does a great job motivating those guys because they don't quit."

NOTES, QUOTES

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Tigers finally got their running game going with 268 yards, albeit against the SEC's worst rush defense. Add 278 passing yards and the Tigers produced their most effective balance of the season and got it done without turning the ball over after giving away four turnovers the week before against Florida. Through seven games, the Tigers lead the SEC with 35.6 yards per game, but they scored only 13 total points in their losses to Auburn and Florida.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense dominated Kentucky last week, holding the Wildcats' previously potent passing game to 166 yards and only five first downs on 17 third-down plays. The Tigers now rank second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 8.6 points per game, and they lead the nation in total defense, allowing 211.7 yards per game. They're also tied for fifth nationally with 11 interceptions and lead the SEC with 22 sacks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm very proud to be able to say I am part of this. Every week we work very hard, and (it's) our way of being able to show how hard we do work. Saying we're No. 1 matters a lot." -- LSU senior DE Chase Pittman.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Fresno State at LSU, Oct. 21 -- This might not be Fresno State coach Pat Hill's best team, but the Bulldogs are accustomed to playing ranked teams on the road in big stadiums filled with loud crowds, so they won't be intimidated. The real question is whether the Tigers will show up ready for a fight after an easy win over Kentucky last week. LSU is good, but not good enough to mail it in against Fresno State.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB JaMarcus Russell -- He wasn't all that good against Auburn and Florida, but Russell sure knows how to beat up on the lesser-thans on LSU's schedule. This time around he's the SEC offensive player of the week after completing 15 of 18 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky. Russell, who completed his first 11 passes and led the Tigers to touchdowns on its first four possessions, is second in the SEC in passing and passing efficiency, completing 69 percent of his passes for 242.9 yards per game with 13 TDs and four INTs.

WR Craig Davis -- LSU is loaded with three excellent receivers (Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Davis), but Davis has been the most productive of the bunch this season, ranking third in the SEC with 5.29 receptions per game and fifth with 76.9 receiving yards per game. He also showed a knack for returning punts when he got the chance last week.

DE Tyson Jackson -- With three tackles and his first interception last week against Kentucky, Jackson has 20 tackles, six tackles for losses, six sacks and four quarterback hurries this season.

ROSTER REPORT: Even with a roster that includes experienced TBs Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard and some talented freshmen, it's former fullback Jacob Hester who is expected to make this third consecutive start at tailback on Saturday. Hester has spent most of his LSU career as a fullback but now leads the team in rushing attempts with 53 carries for 227 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 20 receptions for 133 yards and two scores. He leads all non-kickers in the SEC with 6.3 points per game.

Several players will have to work through some injury concerns to play against Fresno State, including DE Chase Pittman, LB Ali Highsmith, DT Marlon Favorite, TE Keith Zinger, CB Daniel Francis and WR Brandon LaFell. OG Will Arnold, who has missed the past two games with knee and ankle injuries, is not expected to play Saturday.

Previous Report: 10/15/2006


 

 

 


 
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