Five key matchups in the Texas-LSU game to keep your eye on Saturday night:
LSU QB Joe Burrow vs. Texas’ secondary
Burrow was named the SEC player of the week for his performance against Georgia Southern. He completed 23 of 27 passes for 278 yards and five touchdowns. That’s a snooze-fest in the Big 12. The Longhorns are used to facing high-flying offenses every week, where 300- or 400-yard passing games are the norm. It’s all about tackling well in space and keeping the receiver from getting behind you. Burrow will go after whoever Texas puts at corner opposite Jalen Green, who was terrific in the opener. If the Horns don’t help Anthony Cook or D’Shawn Jamison, that side will struggle.
Texas receivers vs. LSU CB Kristian Fulton
The Tigers have two potential first-round draft picks in the secondary — Fulton and safety Grant Delpit. It’s likely that Delpit will be drafted higher; he’s projected to go in the top 10. Fulton had a monster season last year, allowing only six first downs or touchdowns all year, according to an analysis by Pro Football Focus. UT’s Collin Johnson had four catches for 59 yards in the opener while Devin Duvernay had nine catches for 55 yards. Making big plays lined up against Fulton will turn NFL scouts’ heads. Johnson currently ranks ninth in UT history with 2,124 yards receiving.
LSU LB K’Lavon Chaisson vs. Texas RB Keaontay Ingram
Chaisson, a sophomore from Galena Park North Shore, couldn’t wait to blast Texas this week. Now, it’s time to back it up. LSU allowed 74 rushing yards in the opener against Georgia Southern. The Horns are depleted in the backfield. Ingram is the team’s only healthy true running back. Roschon Johnson is still learning the position, and linebacker David Gbenda was moved to offense just this week. Ingram has never carried more than 19 times in a game, and Chaisson can rely on his teammates. That alone gives LSU the edge here, but Ingram is desperate to prove doubters wrong.
Texas’ Cowboy package vs. LSU’s offensive line
Several UT players had real excitement in their voice this week when talking about the Cowboy package, which features eight defensive backs. It can be effective when used in small doses. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando likes to blitz from everywhere, so he may turn DeMarvion Overshown, B.J. Foster and others loose. LSU has four returning starters up front. This is the same group that finished second-to-last in the SEC last season in sacks allowed (2.7 per game). Expect Orlando to nit-pick certain gaps and try to plow on through.
Texas’ special teams speed vs. LSU’s
Every big game needs a big play. Both teams are well capable of special teams magic. UT’s Caden Sterns blocked a field goal last year while kicker Cameron Dicker nailed one from 52 yards. LSU offensive lineman Austin Deculus (6-7) blocked an extra point and a field goal last year. This early in the season, there’s bound to be a special teams breakdown somewhere. Coaches simply don’t put as much emphasis on special teams like they should. UT’s Jake Smith, a dazzling playmaker, didn’t get a chance to return a punt in the opener against Louisiana Tech.
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