With its offense struggling, a home game against Tennessee might
be just what LSU needs to get on track.
The No. 12 Tigers will look to open 5-0 for the second
consecutive season as they meet a Volunteers team that will enter
this matchup unranked for the first time since 1988 on Saturday
While quarterback Jordan Jefferson has had a rough beginning to
the season, LSU’s running game and special teams have put enough
points on the board to achieve an unbeaten record.
“We still understand that there’s work to be done,” coach Les
Miles said. “But, I enjoy the fact that we are undefeated. I want
to stay there as routinely as possible.”
Jefferson was removed briefly from last Saturday’s 20-14 win
over then-No. 22 West Virginia. He completed 10 of 22 passes for 75
yards and two interceptions, lowering his passer rating to an
LSU (4-0, 2-0) has turned to Stevan Ridley to lead the way on
offense with its difficulties moving the ball through the air, and
the junior running back hasn’t disappointed by rushing for 434
yards and three touchdowns.
He ran for 116 yards and a score last Saturday.
“I was very pleased with the running game,” Miles said. “Our
running backs are coming to life and our line is understanding the
commitment to the rush.”
Ridley understands the importance of the guys up front.
“They’re doing all the dirty work, and that is why I always
credit them when I have a big game,” he said.
Ridley could be in line for another noteworthy day against a
Volunteers defense that’s allowing 141.5 rushing yards a game –
third-worst in the SEC – and has given up the second-most points in
the league with 108.
The Tigers are ranked first in the SEC in rush defense,
surrendering an average of 74.8 yards, and have given up the
second-fewest points at 48.
“If it looks like you’re getting dominant play on defense and
great special teams play, you don’t have to be too risky on
offense,” Miles said.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson has been a key part of that special
teams play. He had a 60-yard punt return for a score against the
Mountaineers to become the first Tiger since 2003 to return two
punts for touchdowns in the same season.
Peterson improved his punt return average to 28.1 yards –
second-best in the FBS – en route to earning his second SEC special
teams player of the week award.
With Peterson’s ability to make defenders miss come questions
about the possibility of him helping out on offense.
“Coach Miles joked around with it in Week 2 I believe,” he said.
“But I mean thats coach’s decision, but I’ll do anything to help
this team win ball games.”
Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) will need to keep an eye on Peterson as it
tries to avoid an 0-2 start in the SEC for the third consecutive
Junior Matt Simms led the Volunteers in their 32-29
double-overtime win over UAB last Saturday, completing 19 of 34
passes for 245 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Tennessee is 1-9 against ranked opponents since 2008, with the
win coming Oct. 31, 2009, against then-No. 21 South Carolina. The
Volunteers fell to then-No. 7 Oregon 48-13 on Sept. 11 and lost
their conference opener to then-No. 10 Florida 31-17 on Sept.
Tennessee leads the overall series 20-7-3 but has dropped four
of the last six meetings, falling 21-14 in the SEC championship
game in the previous matchup Dec. 1, 2007, as LSU went on to win
the national championship.