After its hyped non-conference showdown with Texas, LSU gets a bit of a breather as Northwestern State comes to Tiger Stadium. Read staff writer Wilson Alexander's keys to the game.
1. Keep it simple
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives LSU a 99.9 percent chance to beat Northwestern State. The metric cannot go any higher. It has to leave room for the most improbable of outcomes. If there are any wrinkles or packages left unseen in LSU’s playbook, the Tigers don’t need to show them here. LSU can keep its offensive and defensive schemes simple against Northwestern State, saving flair for its Southeastern Conference opponents.
2. Prioritize health
Over the next month, LSU will play the easiest portion of its schedule. The Tigers will face Northwestern State, Vanderbilt and, after a bye week, Utah State. They need to balance retaining their rhythm through this stretch while remaining healthy. Football is a violent game. Injuries happen regularly. When LSU begins the majority of its SEC schedule, it doesn’t want to miss a starter who played longer than he should have against Northwestern State.
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3. Improve tackling
Coach Ed Orgeron has expressed mild concern about LSU’s tackling since preseason practice. The Tigers did not tackle well against Texas last weekend, which allowed the Longhorns to stay on the field for 86 offensive plays — 51 in the second half. The Tigers must tackle better to shorten opponents’ drives and give themselves more rest. The Demons throw the ball quick. LSU will have to tackle in space.
4. Use the bench
This game gives LSU an opportunity to test backups who have not played much — or at all — this season. The NCAA allows players to appear in four games and still redshirt, so a lot of young players can make it into this game without wasting a year of eligibility. While keeping starters healthy, LSU can give its young players valuable experience. Stretch out the lead, then turn it over to the second-string.