BATON ROUGE, La. -- In a 41-14 win over North Texas to open the season Saturday, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo was chipped, double-teamed and generally frustrated by a Mean Green offense whose first order of business seemed to be to avoid the vaunted Tigers pass rush.
“There was a running back and a tight end back there (blocking) most of the time,” Mingo said. “They’d release three (receivers) and got them out on routes.
“But they kept a couple (of blockers) in. They didn’t want any of that.”
Mingo said he does not expect that to be the case this weekend when Washington’s wide-open offense, led by 3,000-yard passer Keith Price, visits Tiger Stadium. Mingo and other Tigers defenders expect the 1-0 Huskies to try to spread the field and attack LSU’s young secondary with as many as five receivers.
“That’s their offense,” Mingo said. “I would assume they would do it.”
That’s good news for Mingo’s desire to get to the quarterback, but a challenge to a secondary that was somewhat protected in the opener by UNT’s preoccupation with getting the LSU front four blocked.
“I think we are going to see a lot of action this week,” cornerback Tharold Simon said. “It’s going to be fun.”
That’s a striking difference from last week, when UNT would usually send out only two or three receivers on pass plays.
“It was kind of boring,” said Simon, who said there were two passes thrown his way, one batted at the line of scrimmage, the other so far off the mark, neither he nor the receiver had a chance to make a play on it.
Thompson completed just 8 of 21 passes for 143 yards, two for touchdowns against what free safety Eric Reid said were blown coverages.
The challenge will be greater against Price, who set Huskies single-season records last season for touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (.669), and pass efficiency (161.09) while throwing for the second-most yards (3,063) in school history.
“He’s a guy who can make plays with his feet,” Mingo said. “He has a strong arm, he keeps his eyes downfield and makes plays. I’ve seen a couple of times where he gets guys jumping (with pump fakes) and then throw a pass and complete it. It’s just something he does.”
Price completed 25 of 35 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown in UW’s 21-12 season-opening win over San Diego State, a game where UW sometimes sputtered offensively. But LSU is expecting a better effort from Price and the Huskies this week.
“I like their quarterback,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “Keith Price is a very good passer.”
Price has high-level talent to throw to.
Receiver Kasen Williams, a former ESPN 150 prospect in high school, caught 36 passes as a freshman and followed that with six catches for 75 yards in the opener, including a touchdown.
He’s one of several receivers Tigers said they’ll have to contend with this week.
“They are a very good route-running team,” Simon said. “They are going to do what they have to do to get open. They run great combinations together. They have a great quarterback, a great receiving corps.”
The Huskies also have a great receiving tight end.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Huskies’ 6-foot-6, 266-pound sophomore, presents LSU’s defense with another prime-time talent to contend with. Another ESPN150 member coming out of high school, Seferian-Jenkins is blessed with tremendous size, yet is nimble and has good enough hands to make all-Pac 12 as a freshman in 2011 after catching 41 passes for 538 yards, the second-most prolific receiving season for a freshman in school history.
He followed that with nine catches for 82 yards against San Diego State.
“He’s the type of player you don’t see that often, so you want to make sure you can get a body on him who can cover him,” said Reid, who, at 6-2, 212, will often get the task of having to cover the big tight end.
“We know he’s a guy they look to in passing situations, so we are going to have to know where he is on the field.”
By “we,” Reid means himself as the lone returning starter and three others who are in their first season as starters. That includes true freshman cornerback Jalen Mills, who will get his first major test as Tyrann Mathieu’s replacement.
“He played a good game,” Simon said of Mills’ debut against UNT. “As we watched film, I saw a couple of things he could have done better.”
He might have to do better against a potentially powerful Huskies pass attack.