Mississippi State has an opportunity to pick up back to back wins over LSU for the first time since the George H. W. Bush presidency in a highly anticipated Saturday night matchup. Our friends over at And The Valley Shook helped us learn a little bit more about the Tigers.
1) How do LSU fans feel about Brandon Harris? Is there confidence there?
I think it's more hope than anything. A lot of people are invested in the idea of his success as much as anything. That said, he's said, and done, all of the right things thus far to set himself up for success. And what's more, the supporting cast has matured around him as well.
2) The fact that LSU did not get to play will come up in the story lines this week. Will it really be a big deal for the Tigers?
It's not ideal, that's for sure. My biggest concern is just over season-opening rust type things -- pre-snap penalties, substitution errors, etc... Plus just the adjustment of some newbies getting hit by somebody who isn't in high school. It would have been ideal to get all of that out the way before going to Starkville at night, but it is what it is. LSU doesn't want to get in a hole here, so avoiding those hiccups will be crucial.
3) What are the Tiger fans overall expectations for the season? If Les Miles goes 9-3 or 8-4 is he in trouble?
Les Miles isn't going anywhere barring some sort of sub-.500 meltdown. For me personally, the how matters as much or more than the what in terms of LSU's record, so it'll depend on how things happen. If the offense returns to form, and the defense doesn't drop off much under the new coordinator, people won't be happy in general, but most understand that the West is just so crowded that it's going to be hard for anybody to pull away.
4) How good is Leonard Fournette? Does it feel like he has a Heisman run in him?
I wrote it this summer, but he is the platonic ideal of an LSU tailback. He can do everything asked of him and then some, and if he gets enough touches, he's more than capable of winning games for LSU and putting up the kind of numbers that past Heisman-winning tailbacks have put up. Although losing a game of stat accumulation certainly hurts there.
But it's going to be really hard for any tailback to win the Heisman right now, so I think it would have to depend on LSU going on a run to the SEC title and the College Football Playoff, I think. I mean Melvin Gordon had one of the best seasons any running back has EVER had, and he barely sniffed last year's trophy.
5) Defensively, how do the Tigers look after losing John Chavis? How nasty is that bad blood right now?
Bringing in Ed Orgeron helped assuage a lot of the fears surrounding Kevin Steele. To be honest, talent makes coaches, especially on defense. And with Steele's recruiting rep AND Orgeron on hand, they should always have plenty of that. And right now, I think LSU's defense is strong enough at the right places -- defensive tackle, middle linebacker, cornerback and safety -- that it would be difficult for Steele to screw up this particular team. I do have kind of a wait-and-see mindset on the future, however. The big thing that I think we've all liked hearing is how he's put more of an emphasis on blitzing and creating big plays, something that has been lacking here since the 2010-12 years with Tyrann Mathieu, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, etc... And LSU definitely has the DB play to be a little more aggressive in that regard.
As for Chavis, I think every coordinator wears out his welcome with a fanbase eventually, and that had started here with Chavis, particularly after watching another defensive meltdown in the final minute of an Alabama game. A game where LSU had dominated time of possession as well, so defensive fatigue wasn't an excuse. And of course, the exit was simply unprofessional, with a mailed-in bowl game performance from the defense, and a dose of tampering from Texas A&M. To say nothing of the buyout, which is going to get paid eventually.
So you could definitely say the rivalry with the Aggies has been ratcheted up a bit. But then who likes them anyway?