LSU left tackle La’el Collins puts his unblemished season on the line Saturday.
He’ll have a tough time staying perfect.
Collins said he has graded out at a perfect 100 in each of LSU’s first three games of the season: no missed assignments, penalties, sacks or pressures allowed.
Collins will be matched up against Mississippi State defensive end Preston Smith, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior who has won back-to-back-to-back Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week awards — something no defensive lineman has ever done.
“He’s a real good athlete,” Collins said this week. “Has a really big motor. Goes hard. Does a lot of great things.”
Smith has three tackles behind the line, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), two sacks, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Just to prove he’s not a one-trick pony, Smith leads the nation with two blocked kicks.
Collins said Mississippi State’s defensive line will be the best unit LSU has faced thus far this season. He gets the leader of the group, trying to keep his record perfect another week.
“(Offensive line) coach (Jeff) Grimes tells me that he likes the way I’m working, getting better each and every game,” Collins said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”
LSU coach Les Miles is still searching for the “right five” on his offensive line, he said Wednesday.
LSU might employ a different group of starters in the game against Mississippi State than it did in the win over Louisiana-Monroe, the coach said.
The offensive line has somewhat struggled in the first three games. Miles mentioned Ethan Pocic and Evan Washington as guys who might find time in the lineup. It appears that there is no set starting group.
“We’re still looking at the right group of five, with Pocic back. We’d like to get him some snaps,” Miles said.
Miles said Pocic could play everywhere, specifically at center and the two guard positions.
”You never can tell what that starting group could look like,” Miles said.
Pocic started the first two games at center for Elliott Porter, who completed a two-game suspension to start the year. Pocic sprained his ankle in the win over Sam Houston State but is expected to return this week.
Miles said Wednesday that right tackle Jerald Hawkins has practiced each day this week and is healthy. Hawkins briefly exited the game against ULM with a knee injury before returning.
LSU is going for its third straight shutout Saturday against Mississippi State. The last time that happened was 1938.
That season, the Tigers of coach Bernie Moore had four in a row against Texas (20-0), Rice (3-0), Loyola (47-0) and Vanderbilt (7-0).
It’s been nearly a half-century since LSU had three shutouts in a season. The 1969 team that went 9-1 defeated Rice (42-0), Miami (20-0) and Tulane (27-0) under coach Charlie McClendon.
LSU has posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1985 in topping Sam Houston State (56-0) and Louisiana-Monroe (31-0) the past two weeks.
CFP trophy in BR
The new College Football Playoff national title trophy is making a stop in Baton Rouge this weekend during a national tour across the college football landscape.
The trophy will be on display at two Walmart locations on Friday and at Tiger One Village on Saturday, before No. 8 LSU meets Mississippi State at Tiger Stadium.
Fans will be able to view and have their photo taken with the brand new 24-carat gold trophy at these sites and times:
Friday: Walmart, 3132 College Drive, 1-3 pm; Walmart Burbank Drive 4-6 p.m.
Saturday: Tiger One Village, 3-5 p.m.
In defeating Mississippi State each of the past 14 seasons, LSU has posted the largest scoring margin in any series between two SEC schools with a minimum of 10 games played.
According to the SEC, LSU, which has defeated State by 30 points or more seven times since 2000, has outscored the Bulldogs by an average of 25.79 points. That’s the largest disparity among the 36 series that qualified, with Florida’s 24.13-point average margin over Kentucky coming next.
LSU’s back-to-back shutouts of Sam Houston State and UL-Monroe give the Tigers four under John Chavis since he became defensive coordinator in 2009.
Chavis had eight shutouts as defensive coordinator at Tennessee from 1995-2008.
Taken on their own, Chavis defenses have been responsible for more shutouts during that time span than all but four SEC schools (Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn).
-- Ross Dellenger, Sheldon Mickles and Scott Rabalais contributed to this report