The Daily Reveille sports staff shares their thoughts and score predictions before LSU's game against Auburn.
Glen West | Secondary’s toughest challenge yet
The LSU secondary will get a chance to really see what it’s made of when they go up against Heisman hopeful Jarrett Stidham on Saturday. Stidham has completed 68 percent of his passes through two weeks to go along with two touchdowns.
The Tigers have played relatively consistently in the secondary and are coming off a skunk of Southeastern, but there were cracks in the foundation. In the second half of last week’s game, Southeastern had five fourth down conversions, most of which came through the air.
On the bright side, Greedy Williams hauled in his first interception of the season and safety Grant Delpit surprisingly leads the team in sacks and is tied with three tackles for a loss. It will be interesting to see how LSU utilizes Delpit in the pass rush game against a talented arm like Stidham.
Beating Auburn will present many tough obstacles for LSU, but one area they can’t afford to get wrong is the play from DBU.
Score prediction: LSU 20, Auburn 17
Brandon Adam | Attack Auburn’s weaknesses in the secondary
It’s time to see if LSU’s offense with coordinator Steve Ensminger and quarterback Joe Burrow at the helm is for real. There have been flashes, but as the games against Miami and Southeastern faded in the second half so did the Tigers’ execution.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning threw for 296 yards against the Auburn secondary with most of the yards coming downfield and in the intermediate range. He gave his wide receivers opportunities to beat Auburn’s secondary, and they did.
LSU isn’t likely to have much success on the ground, so much like last season’s Alabama game, Burrow has to hit his guys downfield or it’s likely to be a similar result to 24-10. Coach Ed Orgeron has talked up sophomore receiver Justin Jefferson as LSU’s go-to-guy, but opposite of him, LSU has yet to find a consistent option.
Junior slot receiver Jonathan Giles has been non-existent, and there is a four-man committee of freshmen Terrace Marshall, Ja’Marr Chase and juniors Stephen Sullivan and Dee Anderson at the third spot. Burrow has to establish a good connection with someone other than Jefferson to fully take advantage of Auburn’s secondary. If he does that LSU stands a good chance at coming out of Jordan-Hare with a win.
Score prediction: LSU 13, Auburn 17
Kennedi Landry | Offensive line troubles
It’s no secret that LSU has had its share of issues on the offensive line through the first two games of the season, and the worst is yet to come with Auburn’s front seven being one of the best in the nation.
The line is missing some key starters, with right guard Ed Ingram getting arrested for two alleged counts of aggravated sexual assault in the preseason and right tackle Adrian Magee going down in the first game against Miami, but LSU still has the experience it needs to protect quarterback Joe Burrow.
Magee since has been replaced by both sophomore Austin Decalus and JUCO transfer Badara Traore, while junior Damien Lewis has taken over at right guard. With Saahdiq Charles returning from a supposed suspension, the offensive line looks to make a big improvement from last weekend against Southeastern.
Burrow is often left scrambling or holding the ball too long, and while some of the fault lies with him, the line will still need to perform to its fullest to win this game
Auburn’s defense currently totals nine sacks and five quarterback hurries, with threats coming from all sides of its defensive line. On the opposite side, LSU’s offensive line has allowed three sacks and 10 tackles for a loss of yards.
The key to success this week lies in quarterback Joe Burrow and the offensive line’s ability to protect him and give him time under center.
Score prediction: LSU 16, Auburn 24
Chris Caldarera | Special Teams on a roll
LSU’s newfound success in the special teams unit has been an emergent storyline two games into the 2018 season. Zach von Rosenberg is averaging 42.6 yards per punt, 11 of Avery Atkins’s 13 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks and Cole Tracy is a perfect 5-for-5 on field goal attempts with a long of 54 yards.
If this weekend’s contest against Auburn is going to be the defensive battle the experts are predicting, field position and special teams play could be the deciding factor.
Punt and kickoff returns will play a crucial role in jump starting drives and placing the offense in good field position, while pinning the Auburn offense inside their own 20-yard line will take pressure off of the LSU defense.
So far, Jonathan Giles and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have had moderate success in returning punts and kickoffs, and if either is able to deliver a special teams touchdown this Saturday, Jordan-Hare Stadium could become a nice, quiet place to get some studying done.
Score prediction: LSU 14 Auburn 24