Monday, December 31, 2012
LSU keys for the Chick-fil-A Bowl
By Edward Aschoff
Here's a look at three keys for No. 8 LSU's matchup with No. 14 Clemson in tonight's Chick-fil-A Bowl:
1. Contain Clemson's passing game: Quarterback Tajh Boyd had another solid season for Clemson. He was second in the ACC with 3,550 passing yards and led the league with 34 touchdowns through the air. Two other reasons LSU's defense has to be on its toes when it comes to Clemson's passing game? How about wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins? The two combined for 125 catches and 1,922 yards with 19 touchdowns. Watkins came in with all of the hype, but Hopkins had the tremendous season, leading the ACC with 1,214 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has 10 touchdown receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, which leads the nation, while Watkins has gained 422 of his 708 receiving yards after the catch, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Clemson owns one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and LSU surrendered more than 300 passing yards in the last three games of the season after not allowing more than 276 through the first nine games.
2. Bring that November offense to Atlanta: LSU has been able to run the ball all season, but only really started throwing the ball well in November. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger finally felt comfortable in the Tigers' offense during the bye week leading up to the Alabama game. He then threw for a career-high 298 yards against Alabama and finished with three consecutive 200-yard games after not registering back-to-back 200-yard games through the first eight games of the season. If LSU brings the balanced offense that helped it go during the last month of the season, it'll present a host of problems for Clemson's defense, which has continued to struggle. Remember, LSU has four backs with more than 350 yards, and all four are averaging more than 32 yards per game. Stopping the run will be tough enough, but now having to worry about Mettenberger's arm is just another obstacle for Clemson.
3. Don't put pressure on Keehn's leg: With starting punter Brad Wing suspended, freshman Jamie Keehn will take the field. The one thing you don't want to give Clemson is good field position to work with, and Wing had the leg to get LSU out of any difficult situation. Keehn has punted just three times this season, and that was in the opener. Although he averaged 41 yards on his three punts, the pressure will certainly be on him inside the Georgia Dome. LSU's defense has shown some bend in the past few weeks, so having Clemson work with a short field could be trouble.