LSU-Mississippi St. Preview
(AP) - No. 25 Mississippi State has virtually no way to evaluate how new LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has developed since his erratic freshman season, or how the Tigers' offense has evolved over the summer.
No one has seen Harris throw more than two passes this season because the 14th-ranked Tigers played less than five minutes before lightning canceled their season opener with McNeese State last Saturday night.
Harris would have rather gotten the full game in, but he can also see the benefits to having a little mystery surrounding the Tigers when they line up amid the din of cow bells in Starkville, Mississippi, on Saturday night.
''If it's an advantage for us, if it's going to help us win, absolutely,'' Harris said.
Mississippi State cracked the Top 25 - the 10th SEC team in the rankings for a record by a single conference - following last Saturday's 34-16 victory at Southern Mississippi, and the Tigers have begun breaking that game video down.
''Not having a game last week, that's one of the things that might be beneficial for us; they really don't have a lot to look at. For us, we have a full game on them,'' defensive end Christian LaCouture said, noting that he was able see how new personnel operate on Mississippi State's offensive line, and get a better handle on the Bulldogs' current offensive scheme.
Being able to analyze that video throughout the week, LaCouture added, ''is really going to help us out.''
Regardless of the advantages LSU may get from film study, Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott said he felt his team was better off playing before hosting LSU.
''We got a chance to go out there and fix our wrinkles and kinks, knock some of the rust off, especially me and my passing performance,'' said Prescott, who was 22 of 38 for 237 yards with two touchdowns. ''We've got that stuff out of the way. We know what we've got and the people we can count on. I think it's a whole lot better coming into a game like this.''
Tigers coach Les Miles said his staff is missing out on the game video it would have used to evaluate its own players in live conditions.
For Miles, the main benefit of not playing is that his team is relatively healthy.
''We'll enjoy our preparation and we'll be fresh,'' Miles said. ''We'll look forward to Mississippi State with the enthusiasm of getting to play the opener.''
There is some mystery surrounding LSU's defense as well because of the hiring of new coordinator Kevin Steele. While the scheme has not changed much, Steele is certain to have his own wrinkles and tendencies.
''There is probably advantages on both sides and disadvantages on both sides and I don't know that one really outweighs the other,'' Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. ''Obviously, the advantage for us is that we've played in a very tough road environment. For our younger guys, even for our older guys, to get a game under their belt, I think that's fantastic.
''But (the Tigers) also have an advantage that they're fresh,'' Mullen added. ''They have a new defensive staff, pretty much, and we didn't get to see what they do. All their new players - you don't see where those guys are going to be and how they're going to utilize their players.''
Mullen would like to limit how much Prescott runs with the ball in order to keep him healthy, but his quarterback's legs are a big part of Mississippi State's offense.
Prescott rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts last weekend and ran for 105 yards with a score in last season's 34-29 win at LSU, snapping a 14-game losing streak in the series. The Bulldogs finished with 302 yards on the ground and 570 total - the most against LSU since 2001.
Mississippi State's running game didn't miss a beat following the departure of Josh Robinson, who paced a ground attack that ranked third in the SEC last season with an average of 233.1 yards. The running back duo of Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert combined for 89 yards on 15 attempts against the Golden Eagles as the Bulldogs finished with 220 yards on the ground.