Continuing with our series of questions and answers from fans and bloggers from opposing teams (and adding a catchy new title: "Behind Enemy Lines" - heyo!), I posed a few questions to the LSU community about this week's game. Specifically, Paul Crewe and the lads over at SBNation's And the Valley Shook (who blog about LSU sports and can drink you under the table [Ed. I doubt that]) and my host for this weekend (who does not blog about LSU sports, but can also drink you under the table [Ed. still doubting]). They both graciously agreed to answer a few questions about Les Miles, Jordan Jefferson, Noel Devine, and the tailgating scene, plus give a prediction of the final score.
After reading the answers (provided after the jump), I woke up this morning with a deep-rooted fear that I will wake up Sunday morning on a burning couch in some frat house in Baton Rouge wearing a purple and gold blindfold, tiger claw marks on my abdomen and no recollection of a 48-9 LSU win on Saturday night. That, or I just ate too much Chipotle before bed last night. Either way, enjoy the banter and feel free to email or tweet (@CountryRoadsWV) me if you have ideas for future questions.
1. How are LSU fans feeling about the quarterback situation in Baton Rouge? Jordan Jefferson has struggled out of the gate and Jarrett Lee seems to be knocking at the door. WVU's 3-3-5 stack defense has been known to confuse quarterbacks, especially those facing it for the first time. Any concern about this when WVU comes to town?
Host: There is concern in Baton Rouge no matter who they are playing as the quarterback play has been extremely shaky, but the core problem is the poor offensive coaching. Even if Jordan Jefferson does not succeed, LSU should not turn to Jarrett Lee when the reigning #1 quarterback in the country out of high school is playing wide receiver in Russell Shephard.
ATVS: Despondent, dejected, downtrodden, deflated... if you can think of any other negative adjectives that start with D, they probably apply. I remain optimistic (probably naively so), because the numbers from Game 1 and Game 3 were actually very solid. He's had 2-3 TDs dropped (a couple of them long ones) as well, so that gets hidden in there. JJ is certainly a work in progress, and we all wish he was doing more right now, but against MSU he didn't make any costly mistakes. He takes care of the football, generally, and appears to now be operating the offense, rather than just participating in it.
As for the matchup against the 3-3-5, one thing in our advantage is that Florida actually runs the same system. So JJ does have SOME exposure to this. How will he respond? I wish I could know, but I expect he will be pretty limited with a heavy dosage of handoffs.
2. What's the collective opinion of Les Miles right now? He won a BCS championship in 2007, then followed that up by two subpar years (at least by LSU standards). Is his seat starting to get a little warmer than usual, or is The Hat going to be in Louisiana for a while longer?
Host: I hope LSU loses many games this year so they will fire him and bring in a better coach. The only reason LSU won the BCS in 2007 is because he had Nick Saban's team in place.
ATVS: Fanbase is probably a 65/35 split, with most wanting him gone. The other 35 defend him based on the NC and his strong recruiting prowess. AD Joe Alleva already publicly said he expects more... he expect championships. Some say the $$$ will stand in the way of a firing, but I'm not sure that's the case. If LSU breaks down in the 2nd half again for the 3rd time in a row, Miles could very well be job hunting by year's end. But I don't expect that unless it's a colossal breakdown (I'm talking like 7-5, 6-6 here). More likely Crowton will be fired and made the goat, which will delay Miles firing.
3. LSU is traditionally known for its defense, but UNC was able to score some late in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. On the other hand, Noel Devine absolutely torched the last SEC defense he faced (Auburn) both of the last two years, going off for 207 yards in Morgantown in 2008 followed up by 128 yards and 3 TDs on just 15 carries on the Plains in 2009. What should Mountaineer fans expect to see in Death Valley? Can LSU hold Devine in check?
Host: The emotions of playing in a loud stadium as Death Valley translates into helping the LSU defense early, but I would expect Devine to pick up his yards as normal in the 2nd half. The key is it a close game going in to half time.
ATVS: UNC did nothing on the ground. Zero. Same with Vandy sans one run (accompanied by poor tackling). MSU only hurt us with QB runs. That being said, Devine is far and away the best back we will have faced. I fully expect the defense to come out with the mentality of stopping the run. Our guys aren't overly big up front, but we win battles by penetrating and disrupting plays before they get going. Nevis has been a terror in the backfield all season. I hope gang tackling is taught hard this week, as well not to over pursue. We have a very fast and aggressive defense, so I'm a bit worried about Devine being able to do some work on cutbacks and misdirection plays. I could see him having a good game, but I think he will be what we gun to stop. We ran a lot of packages against UNC that featured 8 or 9 guys in the box coming from all directions, so we'll try and do things like that to disrupt the run game rhythm.
4. The tailgating scene in Baton Rouge is supposed to be second to none, and especially hostile to opposing fans. What are WVU fans who make the trip in store for? Any particular foods, beverages, or unique locations we have to experience? Am I going to need a bodyguard to get into the stadium without sustaining bodily injury? And, most importantly, with an 8:00 (local time) kickoff, which team's fans will be able to drink the most without passing out?
Host: "Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait!!!!" all day long. Load mouth fans are to be expected, but WVU fans will also experience the most hospitable fans as well who will share the local flavor in food and drinks as well. Jambalaya, Etoufee, and boiled seafood would be first choice. As for drinking, any beverage desired is as good as any.
ATVS: LSU fans are amongst the most misunderstood in all of sports from my experience (perhaps I'm biased). Sure, we'll do our fair share of shit talking and heckling (you are going to want to assassinate the next person you hear say "Tiger Bait!" after this weekend), but we'll also invite you over to our tailgate, give you our beer and gumbo and talk football with you. Of course, there's always the one jackass that will try to ruin it for everyone, but remember he's the exception, not the rule. As for spots to go, the Chimes is always popular and I'm a fan of Mike Anderson's for some great food.*
As far as a drinking contest, we bathe ourselves in bourbon, brush our teeth with vodka and substitute beer for broth in every recipe, so we'll gladly accept any challenge put forth.
I'll always say the Chimes first -- simple yet effective in the food department, and a fantastic beer selection. Mike Andersons is a good choice for seafood, ditto the Capital City Grill if you're downtown. T.J. Ribs or Voodoo BBQ for barbeque, Ninfas or Superior Grill for Mexican.
5. Time to put your money where your mouth is and predict the final score.
Host: LSU 21 WVU 20
ATVS: I think it will stay close throughout, but I see the overall talent level being in LSU's favor and the home field advantage being the deciding factor in a game that is close until the 4th. 27-10 LSU.