Tigers seeking more improvements against W. Kentucky

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Leonard Fournette will be going up against the 76th-ranked rushing defense in Western Kentucky. Photo by LSUsports.net.

All season long, there have been lingering questions about what would happen when LSU faced a top-tier defense and Brandon Harris was forced to make big throws.

The Tiger offense answered those questions last Saturday night in their thrilling 35-28 victory over eighth-ranked Florida in Death Valley.

Even against the 12th-ranked run defense in the land, Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette still put on a show.

Though he never broke loose on a 60 or 80-yard highlight-reel touchdown run Tiger fans have grown so accustomed to seeing over the first five games of the season, he churned out 180 tough yards and two scores.

But for a change, it wasn't all Fournette on offense.

Harris put in his second straight stellar performance as he went 13-19 for 202 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Most importantly, he made some huge throws on key third downs that allowed LSU to convert on seven of 14 tries for the game. The biggest conversion came on a 14-yard strike to Traven Dural that helped set up the Tigers' game-winnig touchdown.

Malachi Dupre continued to be LSU's biggest scoring threat through the air as he snagged four passes for 115 yards and both touchdowns.

Overall, the Tigers amassed 423 total yards against a Florida defense that was considered one of the SEC's best.

Defensively, there was good and bad.

The Tiger front seven was the highlight of the game as they held Florida to just 55 rushing yards on 31 carries.

Dangerous duel-threat quarterback Treon Harris was only able to rush for 20 yards, while LSU held running back Kelvin Taylor to just 25 yards on 15 carries.

Altogether, the Tigers held Florida to just 1.8 yards per carry.

The LSU defensive line also had a huge game in pressuring the quarterback.

In addition to six QB hurries, the Tigers sacked Harris five times. Three of those sacks came from Lewis Neal.

However, the heralded LSU secondary struggled.

Even with Jalen Mills finally returning after missing the first five games with a broken fibula, the Tigers gave up big pass plays throughout the contest.

LSU gave up four pass plays of at least 30 yards--many of which were the result of receivers being wide open.

Harris, the Gators' backup quarterback, finished with 271 yards passing and two touchdowns.

LSU special teams was once again a concern, as two critical breakdowns led to two Florida touchdowns.

An early muffed punt by Tre'Davious White set the Gators up with a first down at the Tiger 13-yard line, and Florida scored on a 72-yard punt return by Antonio Callaway.

The Tigers will seek improvements in these two areas as they welcome in a solid 6-1 Western Kentucky team on Saturday night.

The Hilltoppers are averaging 44 points a game and feature the third-ranked passing attack in the country.

Quarterback Brandon Doughty has put up huge numbers thus far. He has thrown for 2,709 yards with 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He is completing a spectacular 74 percent of his passes.

Taywan Taylor is his favorite target. He has 825 yards receiving and 10 scores this year.

Expect plenty of passes. Western Kentucky is only ranked 109th in rushing, and LSU ranks No. 8 against the run, while the Tiger secondary is only ranked 45th.

Though the LSU DB unit will have their hands full, the Tiger offense should see good matchups.

Western Kentucky is surrendering 24 points a game and ranks just 106th against the pass and 76th against the run.

That bolds well for a Tiger rushing attack that is ranked fourth in the nation.

Fournette leads the country with 1,202 rushing yards, and he also leads the nation in yards per game at 200.3. He ranks fifth in yards per carry at 8.01.

The Tiger rushing attack will have to eat up yards to control the clock and keep the defense off of the field against Western Kentucky's pass-happy, up-tempo attack.