1. The QBs
Even the far-reaching shadow that hotshot freshman running back Leonard Fournette casts can’t darken LSU’s real storyline heading into the season opener: It’s the quarterbacks. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are expected to split time. Jenninngs is expected to start, but it’s a good bet they’ll alternate every so many series. Also, each QB might have his own “package,” according to one LSU player. The Tigers coaching staff is looking for one player to emerge. There’s no better time to do that than on a national stage against a power Big Ten program.
2. Slowing Gordon
This may be the key to an LSU victory. Hold Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon to fewer than 100 yards and win the game? Maybe it’s just that easy. Or maybe not. Either way, the Tigers must find a way to slow Gordon. He’s a Heisman Trophy favorite and a guy who ran for 100 yards in a whopping seven games last season. The Badgers won six of the seven. Even coach Les Miles admitted earlier this week that Gordon is a “concern.” The Tigers are young at defensive tackle, and the Badgers love to run inside the tackles. Gordon’s worst output last season was 69 yards. Tough to stop, but LSU must slow him at least.
3. Defending McEvoy
Wisconsin’s athletic quarterback, Tanner McEvoy, is expected to get the start against LSU. He’s a converted safety who’s a real threat with his feet. The plan, it appears, is for Wisconsin to play both quarterbacks. LSU knows incumbent starter Joel Stave well. He’s a pocket passer who doesn’t move much. McEvoy though? “A little bit of a guessing game of how he’s going to perform or what he’s going to run,” Miles said this week. McEvoy will run the option, according to reports from Wisconsin. He can throw, too. At junior college, he passed for 1,943 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012.
4. Fournette and the freshmen
Can’t leave him off, right? Fournette and probably a dozen more freshmen from LSU’s No. 2-ranked signing class make their debut. If the question this week hasn’t been on the quarterbacks, it’s been, “How many carries will Fournette get Saturday?” We’ll tell you how many: 11. That’s the bold number we’re going with. Look for rookie receiver Trey Quinn to catch more than just a couple of balls as well. Rumblings out of closed practices and scrimmage is that he’s been just as impressive as any freshman not named Leonard Fournette. And safety Jamal Adams? He might start.