The Next Level

Lindsey Scott spent his freshman season honing his acting skills.

The Zachary native prepared LSU’s starting defense for the quarterback it will face on Saturdays by simulating them in practices. His most notable acting job was playing Alabama QB Jalen Hurts — until now.

Nothing may ever top his role in bowl preparation for Saturday’s Citrus Bowl against Louisville: Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

It took two people to hold down Jackson’s role, and both starred in the spot, said coach Ed Orgeron

“Lindsey broke several tackles Tuesday and Wednesday. So did Justin (Hamilton),” Orgeron said last week. “They did a great job.”

LSU allowed reporters at a couple of practices last week, and the program opened a two-hour practice Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, the Citrus Bowl site. Scott could be seen acting as Jackson, simulating the QB’s favorite play — the zone-read, a run option scheme from which the sophomore does his damage on the ground.

Orgeron, a former defensive line coach who still works closely with the unit, stood close by as LSU conducted a four-on-four drill. It included Scott, a running back and two offensive linemen against LSU defensive ends and outside linebackers.

Scott’s job in this half-speed drill: run the zone-read right at the defenders. Orgeron stepped in at times, gesturing to his defensive players. He tapped them on the helmet for good plays or barked at them for mistakes.

This is a key component to the game: stopping Jackson and a zone-read package that includes passing options. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda called Jackson month a true dual-threat quarterback this month. Jackson has run for 1,538 yards and passed for 3,390, and coach Bobby Petrino’s play-calling keeps teams off-balance.

“The quarterback run is the more proficient,” Aranda said. “I give credit to Coach Petrino. What they do best is, when you think it’s pass, they run it: when you think it’s run, they throw it.”

Two Matchups To Watch

UL NT DeAngelo Brown vs. LSU C Ethan Pocic

Pocic has a final shot in college to showcase his skills for NFL scouts. The 6-foot, 310-pound Brown presents a challenge for LSU’s 6-7, 300-pound center. Brown is a fifth-year senior who most expect to get drafted, while Pocic could go as high as the second round. It’s a duel in the trenches between two powerful, large players.

LSU RB Derrius Guice vs. UL LB Devonte Fields

Here’s another matchup between two players heading for NFL stardom. Fields, a 6-4, 240-pounder, is a projected third to fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, and Guice will likely enter next season as one of the 2017 Heisman Trophy favorites. Expect a clash between these two. How often can the shifty Guice shake Fields?

LSU: Keep An Eye On No. 33

Jamal Adams could be playing in his last game. Though he’s strongly pushed against any reports that he plans to leave, Adams is projected, by some, as the best safety in the 2017 draft, a potential top-15 selection in the NFL draft in April.

Louisville: Keep An Eye On No. 8

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Lamar Jackson is averaging 410 yards per game, second nationally. He passes for 282 yards a game and picks up 128 on the ground. He’s been responsible for 51 touchdowns this year. 

NUMBERS WORTH KNOWING

6

Number of 50-point games for Louisville this season

16

Consecutive years LSU (7-4) has won 8 or more games

69.8

Pct. of Louisville yards gained by Lamar Jackson in 18 starts

475.0

LSU’s yards per game average under Ed Orgeron

FOUR DOWNS: Scott Rabalais rings out 2016 at the Citrus Bowl

1. Start fast

Louisville can score in bunches (34 in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest) but has scored 10 or fewer first-half points five times. The Tigers can’t afford to let the Cardinals get up a head of steam with their Lamar Jackson-led offense. LSU won’t pitch a shutout but must limit the potential damage.

2. Turn ‘em over

While Louisville boasts a dangerously prolific offense, the Cardinals are mistake prone. Louisville has committed 31 turnovers, losing 21 of 29 fumbles, and the Cardinals’ minus-7 turnover margin ranks 108th in the FBS. The Tigers aren’t great at generating turnovers (16) but need to be in this game if they want to win.

3. Ground delivery

Though known for its offense, Louisville has been strong on defense against the run. The Cardinals rank fourth nationally (110.0 ypg), allowing just one 100-yard rusher (Clemson’s Wayne Gallman) and two teams to rush for 200-plus yards (Clemson 201, Kentucky 229). The Cardinals lost both of those games. See a pattern forming?

4. Overcoming adversity

Both teams have lost key players: LSU is without Leonard Fournette and LB Kendell Beckwith, Louisville is without OLB and sack leader James Hearns. Doing more with less — or, more accurately, having their replacement make big plays, like Derrius Guice at running back — will lead one of these teams down the path to victory.

BREAKING IT DOWN: WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Quarterback

Advantage:

Louisville

Danny Etling will get you where you want to go like a four-door sedan. Lamar Jackson is an Italian sports car, fast and sleek though prone to the occasional breakdown.

Running back

Advantage:

LSU

Louisville’s Brandon Radcliff (877 yards) is a capable back but no Derrius Guice (1,249 yards, 8.0 per carry). Jackson (1,538 yards) tips this to Louisville’s advantage if LSU isn’t careful.

Wide receiver

Advantage:

Louisville

The Cardinals have four receivers who average 50 yards per game or more receiving, led by senior James Quick (57.3). LSU tops out with Malachi Dupre at 41.3.

Offensive line

Advantage:

LSU

Jackson’s running ability atones for a multitude of sins, but one can’t forgive or forget those 11 sacks Louisville allowed against Houston. LSU’s line should be rested and healthy.

Defensive line

Advantage:

Louisville

Tough call, but DT DeAngelo Brown and the Cardinals are slightly stingier against the run than are the Tigers and DE Davon Godchaux.

Linebacker

Advantage:

LSU

Both have to overcome big losses (LSU’s Kendell Beckwith, Louisville’s James Hearns) but Arden Key is technically an OLB. Key vs. Jackson is one of the game’s best matchups.

Defensive back

Advantage:

LSU

Louisville CB Jaire Alexander (five interceptions) is a threat, but LSU’s secondary is loaded with future NFL starters (Jamal Adams, Tre’Davious White, Donte Jackson).

Kicker/punter

Advantage:

Louisville

LSU’s net punting is a shade better and Josh Growden has improved through the year, but Louisville PK Blanton Creque is virtually automatic inside 40 yards (12 of 13).

LSU PREDICTIONS

ROSS DELLENGER

The Cardinals are on a nasty two-game losing skid. They're not playing like the team once ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation. UL QB Lamar Jackson will make a dent in the Tigers' defense, but LSU's offense has just enough weapons of its own to pull this one out.

LSU 40, Louisville 34

SCOTT RABALAIS

Winning this game comes down to one thing for LSU: not allowing Lamar Jackson to win the game for Louisville. The Cardinals have the better quarterback, but Danny Etling has the better supporting cast. A narrow nod to the Tigers.

LSU 30, Louisville 27

LSU BOWL HISTORY (24-22-1)

Bowl Date Result

Texas Dec. 29, 2015 LSU 56, Texas Tech 27

Music City Dec. 30, 2014 Notre Dame 31, LSU 28

Outback Jan. 1, 2014 LSU 21, Iowa 14

Chick-fil-A Dec. 31, 2012 Clemson 25, LSU 24

BCS Championship Jan. 9, 2012 Alabama 21, LSU 0

Cotton Jan. 7, 2011 LSU 41, Texas A&M 24

Capital One# Jan. 1, 2010 Penn State 19, LSU 17

Chick-fil-A Dec. 31, 2008 LSU 38, Georgia Tech 3

BCS Championship Jan. 7, 2008 LSU 38, Ohio State 24

Sugar Jan. 3, 2007 LSU 41, Notre Dame 14

Peach Dec. 30, 2005 LSU 40, Miami 3

Capital One# Jan. 1, 2005 Iowa 30, LSU 25

Sugar (BCS Ch.) Jan., 4, 2004 LSU 21, Oklahoma 14

Cotton Jan. 1, 2003 Texas 35, LSU 20

Sugar Jan. 1, 2002 LSU 47, Illinois 34

Peach Dec. 29, 2000 LSU 28, Georgia Tech 14

Independence Dec. 28, 1997 LSU 27, Notre Dame 9

Peach Dec. 28, 1996 LSU 10, Clemson 7

Independence Dec. 29, 1995 LSU 45, Michigan State 26

Hall of Fame* Jan. 2, 1989 Syracuse 23, LSU 20

Gator Dec. 31, 1987 LSU 30, South Carolina 13

Sugar Jan. 1, 1987 Nebraska 30, LSU 15

Liberty Dec. 27, 1985 LSU 21, Baylor 7

Sugar Jan. 1, 1985 Nebraska 28, LSU 10

Orange Jan. 1, 1983 Nebraska 21, LSU 20

Tangerine# Dec. 22, 1979 LSU 34, Wake Forest 10

Liberty Dec. 23, 1978 Missouri 20, LSU 15

Sun Dec. 31, 1977 Stanford 24, LSU 14

Orange Jan. 1, 1974 Penn State 16, LSU 9

Astro-Bluebonnet Dec. 30, 1972 Tennessee 24, LSU 17

Sun Dec. 18, 1971 LSU 33, Iowa State 15

Orange Jan. 1, 1971 Nebraska 17, LSU 12

Peach Dec. 30, 1968 LSU 31, Florida State 27

Sugar Jan. 1, 1968 LSU 20, Wyoming 13

Cotton Jan. 1, 1966 LSU 14, Arkansas 7

Sugar Jan. 1, 1965 LSU 13, Syracuse 10

Bluebonnet Dec. 21, 1963 Baylor 14, LSU 7

Cotton Jan. 1, 1963 LSU 13, Texas 0

Orange Jan. 1, 1962 LSU 25, Colorado 7

Sugar Jan. 1, 1960 Ole Miss 21, LSU 0

Sugar Jan. 1, 1959 LSU 7, Clemson 0

Sugar Jan. 2, 1950 Oklahoma 35, LSU 0

Cotton Jan. 1, 1947 LSU 0, Arkansas 0

Orange Jan. 1, 1944 LSU 19, Texas A&M 14

Sugar Jan. 1, 1938 Santa Clara 6, LSU 0

Sugar Jan. 1, 1937 Santa Clara 21, LSU 14

Sugar Jan. 1, 1936 TCU 3, LSU 2

#-Now Citrus Bowl

*-Now Outback Bowl

LSU Bowl Log

BCS National Championship Game: 1-1

Sugar Bowl: 6-7

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: 5-1

Cotton Bowl: 3-1-1

Orange Bowl: 2-3

Independence Bowl: 2-0

Citrus (formerly Tangerine/Capital One) Bowl: 1-2

Outback (formerly Hall of Fame) Bowl: 1-1

Sun Bowl: 1-1

Liberty Bowl: 0-2

(Astro) Bluebonnet Bowl: 0-2

Gator Bowl: 1-0

Texas Bowl 1-0

Music City Bowl: 0-1

[ASTROTURF SHORT]

The last time LSU played in the Citrus Bowl (then Capital One Bowl) on New Year’s Day 2010 against Penn State, the playing surface in what’s now called Camping World Stadium more resembled an artillery range than a football field. Heavy rains and weeks of play on it (Florida state high school games, an earlier bowl game) left the grass field soggy and chewed up by the time the Tigers and Penn State squared off. The result was a sloppy 19-17 LSU loss that indelible mud stains in the minds of many Tigers fans.

By the following season, a series of renovations had begun to transform the stadium and its field, starting with the instillation of artificial turn in time for a 2010 season opener between Southern and Delaware State in the SWAC/MEAC Challenge. A second AstroTurf field has since been installed in the Orlando facility, and that durable surface is what LSU and Louisville will play on in Saturday’s Citrus Bowl.

The fact that it’s an AstroTurf field is made more significant by Louisville’s connection to that particular type of artificial surface.

In 1965, the Astrodome opened in Houston as the world's first major indoor stadium. It had a real grass field. Problem was, the clear panels in the ceiling designed to allow light into the Astrodome also created a glare that bedeviled major league outfielders in Astros games. The panels were painted in a way that reduced the glare but didn’t allow in enough sunlight to keep the grass alive.

Enter a company called Chemstrand (now Monsanto) and a product it unappealingly referred to as “ChemGrass.” The lead engineer on the project was a Louisville graduate named Donald Elbert, who led the effort to create what’s now referred to as AstroTurf.

The original AstroTurf resembled a tightly woven green carpet, prone to creating rug burns and knee injuries. Modern artificial turf — Camping World Stadium has something called AstroTurf Game Day Grass 3D — looks and feels more like real grass, but without all the divots and gashes of the 2010 Capital One Bowl.

LSU, of course, still plays on real grass. Despite Donald Elbert’s contribution to the sports world, Louisville plays on FieldTurf.

Scott Rabalais

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.