Chattanooga at LSU

Sports Xchange

September 06, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
TV: SEC Network (Alternate)
SERIES: LSU leads 1-0. The only meeting came in 1954, a 26-19 Tigers’ win.
RANKINGS: LSU No. 12

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tigers

–RB Darrel Williams is a key runner when starter Derrius Guice needs a break. LSU would prefer to hold Guice below the 27 carries he had last week and he’ll likely go to the sidelines once the Tigers get a comfortable lead, and that will give Williams opportunities.

–WR Derrick Dillon saw his first game action against BYU and had two catches for 22 yards and one rush for eight yards. The Tigers are determined to spread the ball around, and Dillon looks like an early candidate to be a primary complement to No. 1 receiver D.J. Chark.

–LB Devin White made his first start against BYU and led the team with five tackles. Look for him to continue to be one of the top playmakers on defense.

–CB Andraez Williams stepped up last week. BYU didn’t want to test the Tigers’ top corner — Donte Jackson — and the other starter (Kevin Toliver II) — didn’t make the trip for the opener, so Williams seemed like an inviting target. That is until the redshirt freshman made a leaping interception. Even if Toliver returns, Williams figures to receive more opportunities to make plays.

Mocs

–QB Nick Tiano was 23-of-43 passing for 218 yards and a touchdown against one interception in the opener. He also rushed for 68 yards on eight carries.

–WR Joseph Parker had six catches for 56 yards a touchdown in his first game since transferring from Wyoming.

–LB Tavon Lawson, a former defensive back, made his first start at linebacker and recorded a career-high 14 tackles. It was the first career game in double figures in tackles for the junior.

–DB Lucas Webb came up with his 11th career interception in the first half. He is tied for sixth all-time at Chattanooga in the category.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

Little changed for LSU in its season opener under coach Ed Orgeron and with Matt Canada in his first game as offensive coordinator.

The defense outshone the offense — so no change there — and the offense was no less dependent on the run game than it was before Orgeron replaced Les Miles four games into last season. The Tigers’ 27-0 victory against BYU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome showed they can still play smash-mouth football like they did under Miles.

Saturday’s home game against Chattanooga doesn’t look to present much more of a learning opportunity for the 12th-ranked Tigers. The two teams will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Television coverage will be on the SEC Alternate Network.

LSU ran the ball 57 times and passed it only 18 against BYU, with Orgeron estimating that Canada used only about 10 percent of his offense.

“We took what they gave us,” Orgeron said.

Running back Derrius Guice ran 27 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns against BYU, but Orgeron said he’d like to limit the workload of the reigning SEC rushing champ.

“I think any time you get over 25, it’s too much because we have three or four backs that can run the football,” Orgeron said. “I don’t think that you’re going to see Derrius carrying the ball over 25 times or 30 times in a game every game.

“We don’t want to wear him out. We want to rotate our backs. We don’t want him to carry the whole load.”

LSU started five true freshmen against BYU, and then the lopsided nature of the game enabled the Tigers to go deeper into the depth chart to play 17 freshmen in all.

There is the potential for the Tigers to get another long look at young players this week. But Orgeron said he’s taking nothing for granted.

“The challenge of this week is focusing on the task at hand, get our team ready for a battle,” Orgeron said. “We’ve all been in these games where you can overlook the opponent and it turns out to be a battle. So we are not planning anything but a battle.”

Orgeron said quarterback Danny Etling, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 171 yards, “played fantastic” in terms of managing the game.

“His passes were on the money,” Orgeron said. “He had great decisions.”

Chattanooga is playing its first true road game after losing to Jacksonville State in Montgomery, Alabama, on August 26. The Mocs had a bye last week.

“It’s a great opportunity to play against the best in college football,” Mocs linebacker Tae Davis said of the trip to LSU. “I’m a competitor and so is the team, so it brings out the best in us.

“We’re looking forward to competing and doing our job. As a defense and a team, we’re pretty good. We’re looking to go out there and show that we belong. You definitely get an extra juice playing in an environment like that.”

The Mocs’ defense had two major breakdowns in their 27-13 to Jacksonville State, allowing a 76-yard touchdown run and a 59-yard touchdown pass. The offense turned the ball over three times, including two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Nick Tiano, thrust into the lineup when starting quarterback Alejandro Bennifield was hit with an NCAA-imposed four-game academics-related suspension on the eve of the opener, completed 23 of 43 passes for 218 yards with one touchdown.

He will be facing an LSU defense that allowed only 97 yards to BYU, helping the offense to possess the ball for nearly 42 minutes. But the Tigers also committed 10 penalties and failed to score touchdowns on four of their seven red-zone opportunities, kicking two field goals, missing a field goal attempt and turning the ball over on downs.

Chattanooga coach Tom Arth hopes the extra time to prepare will make a difference.

“I thought the bye week was great timing for us,” Arth said. “At the same time, when you go so long and play just one game, you get a taste before you have to wait again. We had a lot we needed to work on over this past week that I think we did.

“All of the mistakes that happened were self-inflicted. You can tell them, tell them, tell them, but until they live through an experience like that, you hope that’s all they need.”