Southeastern Louisiana at LSU

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 7:46 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
SITE: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
TV: ESPN2
SERIES: LSU leads 1-0. The Tigers won the only meeting 48-7 in 1949.
RANKINGS: LSU No. 11

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Lions

–QB Chason Virgil connected with nine different receivers on his way to passing for 358 yards in the loss to ULM last week. The junior transfer from Fresno State was 28 of 39 passing with four touchdowns and one interception. He started 14 games at Fresno State during his two seasons there.

–WR Juwan Petit-Frere led the Lions in receiving yards with 148 on just five catches, second to RB Devonte Williams’ six receptions, with two going for touchdowns. The junior also is a threat in the return game, having run back two kickoffs for touchdowns last year. He had five returns for 136 yards, including a 34-yarder, in the opener.

–LB Tamarcus Russell recorded 20 tackles in the opening loss, the most for a Southeastern Louisiana defender since the program was revived for the 2003 season. A transfer from Fresno City College where he was the team’s defensive Most Valuable Player, he nearly matched his 2017 season total of 24.

–FS Matthew Wright was right behind Russell’s production with 16 tackles in his debut with the Lions. The junior transferred from Navarro College, where he was a two-time All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference selection.

Tigers

–WR Jonathan Giles was relatively quiet in his LSU debut, catching one pass for nine yards. Giles, who caught 69 passes and scored 13 touchdowns at Texas Tech two years ago before transferring, is the only experienced Tigers receiver and it’s just a matter of time before he becomes a major factor. That time could be now.

–LT Baedara Traore stepped in for injured Adrian Magee against Miami and played well. The two were considered co-starters, though Magee got the first opportunity before being hurt. Now it’s Traore’s job for at least the next two to three weeks and he’ll be counted on to help stabilize a unit that has undergone a few changes since the start of
preseason camp.

–DL Braeden Fehoko didn’t do a lot against Miami (two tackles), but he did team with Michael Divinity Jr. to come up with an important sack as the Hurricanes were trying to climb within one touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fehoko is one of the most talented players on an exceptional defensive line and should be able to dominate SLU’s offensive linemen.

–LB Travez Moore is just one of a few players under consideration to take the reps K’Lavon Chaisson won’t be able to take because of a season-ending injury, but Moore is the most mature player in the group. The coaches need to find out who they can count on for the game at Auburn and Moore seems like a logical candidate to start with.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

LSU’s impressive performance in a 33-17 spanking of then-No. 8 Miami in the season opener vaulted the Tigers (1-0) from No. 25 to No. 11 in this week’s poll going into Saturday’s home opener against Southeastern Louisiana.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge with ESPN2 airing the game.

The Tigers will be heavy favorites over the Lions (0-1), an FCS program a mere 47-mile bus ride away in Hammond, Louisiana, but Tigers coach Ed Orgeron isn’t looking ahead to the looming date with SEC rival Auburn the next week.

“We know that those guys are going to come in here and give us their best shot,” Orgeron said. “It’s not about them. It’s always going to be about the LSU Tigers. Our goal is to prepare each week the same, treat every opponent the same and prepare at a championship level each week.”

The Lions lost their first game under new coach Frank Scelfo when they traveled to Louisiana Monroe and fell 34-31 as a potential game-tying and overtime-inducing 37-yard field goal was blocked on the final play.

Southeastern Louisiana has not won any of the 23 games it has played against FBS teams since it reinstated its football program in 2003.

“We’ve got to stay focused on this game — not for the atmosphere, not for the stadium, not for national television, anything like that,” Scelfo said. “We just have to stay focused for the opportunity that we have on the field.

“None of that matters. It doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. What matters is how well we practice and prepare and that puts us in a position not only to play well Saturday, but grow as a team as the season goes on and get better as the year goes on.”

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, a graduate transfer from Ohio State, made his much-anticipated Tigers debut and his first collegiate start against Miami. He didn’t need to do much but was poised and mistake-free as he completed 11 of 24 passes for 140 yards.

“I thought I played OK,” Burrow said. “Us as an offense, we played average. And we kind of dominated the whole game, so we have a lot to get better at.”

Southeast Louisiana has a transfer quarterback of its own. Former Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil made his Lions debut against ULM and completed 28 of 39 for 358 yards and four touchdowns.

“Chason really played well the other day. He had the hot hand, so we kept him in there,” Scelfo said.

Virgil has been engaged in a tight battle with another junior quarterback — Lorenzo Nunez. A transfer from South Carolina, Nunez started 11 games last season in earning Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year honors.

“Lorenzo’s going to play for us,” Scelfo said. “He’s going to play quarterback. We used him at running back, receiver, quarterback all those places last week and we’ll probably continue that trend, but he’s going to continue to play quarterback.

“He’s such a good athlete for us. He’s got the ability to be a game-breaker for us. He’s got the ability to be matchup problems for other teams.”

Virgil’s primary target was Juwan Petit-Frere, who caught five passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Petit-Frere, Virgil and the entire Southeast Louisiana offense will face a much stronger challenge against an LSU defense that didn’t allow the Hurricanes to reach the end zone until the Tigers had rolled to a 33-3 third-quarter lead.

LSU’s defense suffered a setback, however, when starting edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter.

Offensively, the Tigers got off to a slow start against Miami, but their running game got a boost from senior Nick Brossette, who had career highs of 22 carries and 125 yards and scored the first two touchdowns of his career.