LSU Football: 10 Tibits To Help Fans Prepare for North Carolina
As we prepare for the annual Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game between the LSU Tigers and the North Carolina Tar Heels, this coming Saturday, I have come up with 10 morsels of information and just plain deduction that may help you, the LSU fan, to be better prepared to watch the game. Even though we are just fanatical observers it always helps to understand the enemy more intimately before the troops enter battle. Enjoy and Geaux Tigers!!!!!
Tar Heel Inconsistency at Quarterback
T. J. Yates, a 5th year senior, should start at quarterback. Although he possesses a strong arm and has experience he has demonstrated erratic play with a propensity to throw to the opposition when pressured. LSU DC John Chavis is no doubt quite aware of Mr Yates’ tendencies and would be well advised to dial up a variety of blitz packages early and often in order to try and keep him off-balanced and hearing footsteps throughout the game.
Tar Heel Inexperience at Wide Receiver
Yates will be throwing to mostly an inexperienced receiving corps. Other than senior Greg Little (more on him later), the wideouts will be mostly comprised of underclassmen with little playing time under their belts. They have demonstrated some flashes of talented play, however, this potential combination of forced passes to young and unproven receivers should give LSU’s savvy cornerbacks, Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne, some choice opportunities.
Tar Heel's Solid Production at Running Back
The Tar Heels feature a pair of senior running backs, Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston, that have provided them with workman like performances in the past, but who lack elite power or breakaway speed. Needless to say, the Tigers defense will want to have their run stuffers filling up the lanes, limiting the ground attack and putting even more pressure on Yates to produce through the air.
Tar Heel O-Line with Room for Improvement
North Carolina’s offensive line certainly struggled at times last year in protecting Yates and in augmenting the running game. They return four out of the five starters from last year which could be viewed as either being a negative or positive. Likely the Tar Heels will see improved production out of this group this year, simply just from being together for another year, and will probably realize improvement in depth.
Tar Heel Defense: The Beast in the East?
The challenge that LSU’s defense will meet against the Tar Heel offense will pale in comparison to what the Tiger offense will be faced with in trying to move the ball against the vaunted North Carolina defense. They return 10 starters from a unit that was very stout and stingy against both the run and pass in ‘09. They also keep the opposition’s score board awfully quiet. We’re talking Top 5 defense, nationally.
Tar Heel Front Seven Best in the Land?
The entire Tar Heel defense is of blue chip caliber from top to bottom without a real weakness. It all starts up front with the lineman and linebackers. There may not be a better front 7 in the country. Much to Jordan Jefferson’s chagrin, NC has not one but two of the nation’s elite rush ends in Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin (also, more on him later). LSU tackles Joseph Barksdale and Alex Hurst will need to bring their A+ game to Atlanta if they hope to keep Jefferson vertical.
Tar Heel Secondary Not Bad Either
The North Carolina secondary may not get the billing that the lineman and linebackers get but make no mistake, they are very experienced and very good. It is loaded with 3 All-American candidates in Kendric Burney (52 tackles, five INTs), Charles Brown (66 tackles, three INTs) and Deunta Williams (47 tackles, six INTs). LSU must be careful ,while yet being aggressive, not to give up more points to the NC defense than to their offense.
Tar Heel Special Teams Solid
North Carolina returns both it’s kicker and punter. Junior Casey Barth who converted 21 of 25 field goal attempts last year, along with junior Grant Schallock who averaged just over 40 yards per punt will resume their duties for the Tar Heels. They also bring back their return specialist, safety Da'Norris Searcy, who was solid in his performance last year. Their coverage unit was also dependable, considered to be in the ACC’s upper tier.
Tar Heels with a NCAA Monkey Wrench
With all of this being said regarding North Carolina with their formidable assets and obvious deficits, there is a considerable caveat that has been thrown into the Tar Heel mix. The NCAA is conducting an investigation in Chapel Hill over concerns that some Tar Heel players (possibly up to 12) may have received a little too much tutoring from a in-house academic tutor. Most notably and perhaps most damaging to coach Butch Davis’ squad is that starting WR Greg Little and starting DE Marvin Austin may very well miss this game and more to come due to their alleged involvement in this proposed activity.
Tigers vs. Tar Heels: Will the D's Prevail?
North Carolina’s strengths and weaknesses are quite glaring, presenting a huge gulf of imbalance between what is to be expected from their offense and defense. Les Miles is presumably working with his staff and players to develop a game plan and set of schemes to exploit this imbalance. Butch Davis is no doubt doing the same. While looking at both teams on both sides of the ball you begin to get this feeling that this might be one of those crazy games where the defense outscores the offense, on both teams! Let’s tee it up and let the fun begin.
p.s. Let's not forget, the Georgia Dome has been friendly to LSU as of late. Let's keep that good karma flowing for the Tigers as we represent for the SEC in this opening game of another exciting season of football. Geaux Tigers.