4 keys for LSU against Utah State: control pace, replace Terrace Marshall, more

3 weeks ago The Advocate 0

LSU plays its final non conference game of the regular season at 11 a.m. this Saturday against Utah State. These are staff writer Wilson Alexander’s keys to the game.

1. Control pace

Utah State’s offense plays at one of the fastest rates in college football, snapping the ball about every 15 seconds. The Aggies’ touchdown drives have averaged 1 minute, 51 seconds. (LSU’s touchdown drives have averaged 2 minutes, 5 seconds.) In its four games, Utah State has scored three touchdowns in which the drive spanned at least 70 yards and lasted less than a minute. LSU’s defense must disrupt Utah State’s pace to avoid early exhaustion.

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2. Make the first tackle

LSU has played well this season, but the Tigers have to improve their tackling. They missed 18 tackles against Vanderbilt, coach Ed Orgeron said, which resulted in 148 yards. LSU studied its missed tackles during the open date. It has tried to adjust the players’ angles and approaches. Against Utah State and that extremely uptempo scheme, the Tigers must tackle well to slow the Aggies’ offensive pace and avoid an unlikely upset.

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3. Replacing Terrace Marshall

The Tigers will play without sophomore wide receiver Terrace Marshall for the first time this season. Marshall, who has 20 receptions for 304 yards and six touchdowns, suffered a reported fracture in his right foot against Vanderbilt. He’s walking without a medical boot, Orgeron said, but he won’t play against Utah State. With an offense that depends on three wide receivers, LSU has to find a reliable replacement until Marshall returns. Look for Stephen Sullivan.

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4. Where is the Love?

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love entered the season as a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate after he threw for 32 touchdowns and 3,567 yards last year. Love has struggled more this season, throwing five interceptions through four games. Interceptions are key here. In his two games against ranked opponents, Love has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 682 yards — but with three interceptions. Utah State lost both games by a combined 16 points.