FOUR DOWNS: Scott Rabalais breaks down the matchup
1 RUTHLESS EFFICIENCY It’s not whether LSU will beat Eastern Michigan. The Tigers have the Eagles outgunned in every respect. The issue is to play with crisp effectiveness. Block well. Catch and throw well. Tackle and cover. Force three-and- outs. Don’t outkick the coverage, and don’t let an overmatched team think it can hang around, like Syracuse did.
2 passing gear Leonard Fournette will get his rushing yards. That’s not an issue. What is is whether LSU’s passing game will progress. Brandon Harris threw for 157 yards at Syracuse, modest by today’s standards, but more than he threw combined in the Tigers’ first two games. It’s important to continue to grow the passing game before returning to SEC play.
3 no flag day The most penalized team in the SEC, LSU was flagged 14 times for 120 yards last Saturday at Syracuse. The goal for the Tigers is to play a much cleaner game against Eastern Michigan. Coach Les Miles said the Tigers made erasing penalties a major point of emphasis in practice this week. It’s time to see the fruits of their labor.
4 going deep Miles was asked if he would try to get his backup players more work. He didn’t bite — The Hat never disrespects an opponent. But clearly one of the goals for this game is to get as big a lead as quickly as possible to rest starters for two big SEC games ahead. LSU’s reserves need snaps they didn’t get two weeks ago in the rout of Auburn.
The next level: Leonard Fournette will feast, but how much will coach Les Miles let him eat?
The nation’s leader in rushing yards — LSU’s Leonard Fournette — will face the nation’s worst rushing defense Saturday.
Eastern Michigan has allowed 229, 430, 278 and 556 rushing yards in its first four games. That’s an average of 373 rushing yards per game, which ranks the Eagles 128th of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Fournette is leading the nation with a 210-yard average, having rolled up more yards (631) than any LSU tailback in the first three games of a season.
You can’t make this stuff up.
What’s the over/under on Fournette carries in this game? We’ll say 17.
When the game is in hand, coach Les Miles will sit his star tailback. Remember last week when LSU kneeled the ball twice with Fournette just 7 yards away from the single-game school record?
That’s a message from Miles: No player is bigger than the team. So don’t expect the coach to keep running Fournette in a 40-point game just to achieve that single-game rushing record.
One thing is certain: As Fournette has continued to blossom, LSU’s offense is drifting away from the shotgun look we saw in the season opener.
The Tigers have gone from using the shotgun on 52 percent of their snaps against Mississippi State to doing it on 25 percent of their snaps at Syracuse. In between, they did it 29 percent against Auburn.
The Advocate says ...
LSU 59, E. Michigan 0
The run-heavy Tigers shouldn’t have trouble with a team that allowed 556 rushing yards last week to Army.
This is a good tune-up for LSU before another key two-game conference stretch: at South Carolina and vs. 4-0 Florida.
The Tigers haven’t played many reserves through the first three games — despite leading Auburn by 31 points late. Expect that to change against the Eagles.
LSU 52, E. Michigan 6
Let’s see, where do we begin? You have to believe Eastern Michigan is still reeling from giving up 556 rushing yards to previously winless Army last week. Now here come Leonard Fournette, Darrel Williams, Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette — four bruisers.
Considering EMU allows 373.3 rushing yards per game and 6.7 yards per carry, LSU’s single-game records for individual (250) and team (503) rushing yards will be in jeopardy.
LSU 47, E. MICHIGAN 6
Les Miles could pretty much pick the score he wants to see on the scoreboard while LSU sings the alma mater after yet another nonconference win. What’s important is how the Tigers get there: with an effective passing game, fewer penalties and better punting — if they ever do punt. As for the LSU single-game rushing record, it’s not if Leonard Fournette can do it, but whether he gets enough carries before retiring to await South Carolina.