LSU begins its Southeastern Conference schedule at 11 a.m. this Saturday at Vanderbilt. Read staff writer Wilson Alexander's keys to the game.
1. Air it out
The strength of LSU’s team, its passing offense, matches up well with Vanderbilt’s weakness, its passing defense. The Commodores rank 126th of 130 FBS teams with 332.5 passing yards allowed per game. Meanwhile, LSU has shown its offense relies on the arm of quarterback Joe Burrow, who has an 83.3 percent completion rate and 1,122 yards through three games. There’s no reason for the Tigers to stop throwing the ball now.
The Advocate's LSU beat team predicts the outcome of the Tigers' matchup with Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville.
2. Contain Ke’Shawn
Vanderbilt’s best player is running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The senior finished last season as one of the most productive running backs in the Southeastern Conference, gaining 1,414 total yards and 14 touchdowns. The Commodores will try to decrease LSU’s possessions by draining the clock. In order to get the ball back to their offense and stop Vaughn, the Tigers must tackle better than they have this season and force punts.
3. Protect the football
Nothing about this matchup suggests Vanderbilt, a 23-point underdog at home, can upset LSU. The Tigers are more talented, and their potent offense should create a comfortable win. Turnovers can change that. The Tigers are even this year on turnover ratio. They have recovered two fumbles and thrown two interceptions. Coach Ed Orgeron wants to improve that statistic, so LSU needs to protect the football while forcing more turnovers on defense.
LSU freshman Derek Stingley Jr.'s hands, vision and instincts make him an impressive punt returner who might only improve.
4. Get ready, secondary
Two weeks ago against Purdue, Vanderbilt quarterbacks Riley Neal and Deuce Wallace combined for 420 yards passing, the most by Vanderbilt in one game since 2006. LSU wants to make Vanderbilt’s offense one-dimensional. The plan hinges on whether or not LSU's secondary can play better than it has this season. The Tigers have allowed 221.7 passing yards per game and six touchdowns. They have not intercepted a pass. That has to change.