1 The rush job
For the second straight week, LSU is facing one of the SEC’s most porous rush defenses. Last week it was Arkansas, which was second worst in the conference allowing 5.3 yards per rush. Tennessee surrenders an SEC worst 256.9 yards per game, which ranks 126th of 129 FBS teams. Hard to imagine LSU’s game plan won’t involve a lot of pounding the rock with Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and the Tigers’ jet sweep.
2 Watch your back
Danny Etling’s back stiffened up on him as he warmed up for the Arkansas game. Etling, who underwent back surgery after the LSU Spring Game, has been labeled fit by coach Ed Orgeron, but a back is an unpredictable instrument. Orgeron and offensive coordinator Matt Canada are probably going to be delighted to insert backup QB Myles Brennan if the Tigers can build a big enough lead — and don’t discount the Williams wildcat package, either.
3 Get your kicks …
LSU’s kicking has been wobbly all season. Connor Culp’s Arkansas misses (field goal, two PATs) made the place-kicker position a week-long battleground with Jack Gonsoulin. Who won? We’ll know Saturday. Cameron Gamble said he’s made adjustments to put more kickoffs in the end zone. Zach Von Rosenberg (42.3 yards per punt) has been most consistent by default. This game shouldn’t come down to a kick, but LSU doesn’t need to let kicking give Tennessee an unwelcome spark.
4 Star of the screen
Arkansas didn’t have tons of offensive success in its 33-10 loss to LSU. When it did, though, it often came via the screen pass. Tennessee ranks 111th in passing offense nationally, but what meager airtime the Vols have generated often comes from screen plays. Tennessee has few paths to victory, but the last thing LSU needs is for the Vols to come out and dink and dunk their way to an early, momentum-generating touchdown.