I had the chance to catch up with Billy Gomila from andthevalleyshook.com for a Q&A about the LSU Tigers. Below is the knowledge he gave me. Go over to their site and read my Q&A with them as well.
What is it about night games at LSU that make Death Valley a completely different place than it is during the day?
The easy answer is that people have all day to party, but it's largely just the routine of it. For other schools, a night game is a rarity or a luxury, but for LSU, this is just what we do. So if the Tigers aren't playing at night, things just don't quite seem right.
LSU has completely dominated this series since the early 1980s. How do LSU fans feel about Mississippi State and this matchup? How much does it matter to them?
My brother once said that he felt like "LSU could go 1-11, and the one win would be against State." Honestly at this point, it's disconcerting at times, because all streaks come to an end. Otherwise, it's an SEC game so it usually gets at least the requisite attention of any conference game. This year, with it coming after Alabama and the high of that game, it obviously has lost a bit of juice. But last year's Thursday night one definitely had a "big game" feel. Dan Mullen has had a few close calls against LSU. Do LSU fans take this team more seriously under his leadership? I would say more so. Maybe not to the degree that State fans would like, but people here are certainly aware that he's a better coach than his predecessors. In the back of my mind, there's always the thought that sooner or later, State's gonna break that streak. Mullen has them on the rise.
Zach Mettenberger and Les Miles have been a source of frustration for many LSU fans. Deep inside how much trust to LSU fans have in those two, and is there a growing level of frustration with Miles given the team's struggles with Alabama, dropping the last two out of three?
Mettenberger had some out-sized expectations coming into this season, without a doubt. We tried to keep them as reasonable as we could at ATVS, but he still struggled early on. He took too much blame, as quarterbacks always do, but there were some protection issues and a lot of dropped balls. The hope is that last week was a turning point. He never really was that far off from putting it together, just a missed pass or a dropped ball here or there and against Alabama, all that changed. He was calm, cool and collected, and played like he knew where to go with the ball on almost every play. Plus, his receivers were catching the ball. Whether there's any carryover to this week is the main thing people will be watching for, especially against State's very solid secondary. As for Miles, he'll always have his detractors, but overall the fan base is pretty damn happy. The guy has won 80 percent of his games, two conference titles, a national championship and turned in an undefeated regular season last year. The Bama series is frustrating, but at 3-4 since Saban arrived, the struggles are as much about perception as anything. LSU has given as good as it's gotten against the Tide. And as for last week, while Miles deserves questions for some of his big calls, he also deserves credit for an excellent gameplan and preparing the Tigers to essentially outplay Bama for nearly all of that game. Things fell short, but we're damn proud of how that team came out and played.
What is the one place Mississippi State fans should avoid while wearing Maroon on Saturday? What is the safest place to go?
You'll be fine. Show up with a smile on your face and a sense of humor. Yeah, you might take a light ribbing, but if you can take it with a smile on your face LSU fans are great fun. They'll feed you and likely toss you a free beer or two for your trouble. It's all about having a good time, and we do it as well as anyone. Every group has its bad seeds, but most of the so-called horror stories out of Baton Rouge involve people that take themselves a bit too seriously and can't just relax and take a little Tiger-Bating.
How do you see this game playing out?
The biggest question mark, for me, is LSU's mindset. Can they turn things on to the same degree that they did last week? If so, this one will be over about as quickly as State's last two games. I feel like there's bound to be a bit of a letdown, but provided the Tigers aren't completely tanking, they're just too good at the line of scrimmage for the Bulldogs to have much success. I have no doubt in LSU's running game to grind things out, but if the passing game that LSU had last week shows up as well, this could get ugly.