Tennessee-LSU Preview

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

SEC-worst 97.2.

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.