Just six days remain until LSU locks horns for the first time this season against Appalachian State and today we will continue to break down that matchup today as we look at the team’s wide receivers and tight ends.

Wide Receivers:

LSU – The Tigers have plentiful depth at wide receiver. From proven stars like Byrd and LaFell, to lesser knowns with world of potential like Terrance Toliver and Chris Mitchell, LSU has all the tools to make an opposing team’s pass defense have bad dreams for weeks. But I think LSU’s wideouts will have down season’s in terms of statistics because LSU will struggle at times to throw, so keep an eye on that as the year goes on.

ASU – The Mountaineers will always have good receivers, because it is such a vital part of how they play. But the Apps lost their stud from this past season Dexter Jackson and may have more problems than last year stretching the football 25-30 yards down the field. That may be the key to this game. If LSU can creep their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to contain Armanti Edwards, they will win easily. But if Edwards has free reign in the pocket to run or throw, this game could be closer than some think.

Adv: LSU (on paper) ASU (on the field, because their system utilizes wide outs so well)

Tight Ends:

LSU – Richard Dickson graduated to a superstar in the BCS National Championship Game and with inexperienced quarterbacks, I expect him to be a security blanket this season. He could be LSU’s leading receiver in terms of receptions this year if Gary Crowton has his way.

ASU – The Apps won’t use a tight end and if they do, it will be in a blocking capacity to give Armanti Edwards maximum protection. Of the five tight ends listed on the ASU roster, they combined for just one catch and 11 yards this past season.

Adv: LSU

We will look into the trenches tomorrow.

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In NFL news, the Saints dominated the Bengals 13-0 in front of lifeless Bengals fans last night in what was probably the best performance by the Saints defense since the “Katrina Game” against the Falcons a few years ago.

Now, I know it is preseason, and I am the first person on the planet who will say preseason games are pointless and should be eliminated from the NFL game, but the Saints really did look good.

I mean that. The Saints looked REALLY, REALLY good.

And I am exactly a Saints diehard. I don’t cheer against them, but I don’t go out of my way to cheer for them, either. They are just any ordinary team to me, pretty much that I just know really well because of the exposure they get on television here, but they looked sharp Saturday and that should give fans hope.

The reason they looked sharp had nothing to do with a Drew Brees touchdown pass or a Reggie Bush reception or a Jeremy Shockey block, but they looked sharp because alas they held their own on the defensive side of the ball.
I am one of the few people in the world who does not think the Saints’ cornerbacks are the ultimate weakness of their roster. I never played organized football, but after 21 years of watching and studying, I know that when an opponent throws a deep pass, it is not just the cornerback, but also the safety’s job to help control the outcome of the play.

They are called a safety for a reason in that they are the last man standing before the end-zone and the opponent. In all of the Saints long-pass nightmares, yes, the CB is beat — no doubts, but also, the safety is nonexistant.

So the Saints took the attitude Saturday that if dropping into coverage isn’t working, then why not roll the dice and bring the house? And it worked. The best way to guarantee not be beat deep is to not let the quarterback throw a pass and the Saints did that last night by bringing two, three and sometimes four blitzers to record four sacks and countless more hurries and hits.

This strategy comes with a risk that yes, you will be beat deep on occasion. But hell, the old strategy saw they get beat deep a lot, so what’s to lose?

I had predicted the Saints to go 8-8 before the preseason began because I thought the Shockey trade would be bad for chemistry and that the secondary would still be a sore-thumb. But after watching the preseason, I lean closer to the 10-6 or 11-5 mark.

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In that breathe, I will begin a game (similar to our college game before) today where I will predict each team’s record before the season begins. With 14 days before the opening kickoff and 32 teams, we will tackle 2 or 3 a day, so let’s get it rolling with the first two teams today.

NFC South:

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NFC North:

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NFC East:

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NFC West:

Seattle Seahawks – 10-6 – The Seahawks are getting to be an old, stagnant, stale team. They remind me of the Cowboys before Troy Aikman retired in that they have enough talent to be decent, but not enough talent to win the big one. Expect the usual winning season, then early exit for the Hawks in Holmgren’s last season.

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AFC North:

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AFC South:

Tennessee Titans – 7-9 – How the Titans have been winning the past few years is beyond me as they have done absolutely nothing to help Vince Young. With even shoddier receivers this year, lady luck will not be as kind to Tennessee and they will drop out of the playoff chase.

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AFC East:

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AFC West:

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I look forward to filling in more blanks in the coming days!

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Back to college now. I’ve broken down 5 of the 12 games of the SEC slate so far. Today we will clear out two more.

at 5:45 CDT

Keys for MSU:

1. Running game. Straight up, hard-nosed running game. LSU punched the Techsters in the mouth to the tune of nearly 400 yards rushing this past season, so I know Sly Croom will be giving La Tech a heavy dose of Anthony Dixon in this game. Expect him to go for 250+.

2. Find your passing game – Mississippi State could potentially be as good as anyone in the SEC. They have top-to-bottom some of the best talent in the Western Division. But the one black-eye is they haven’t had remotely any passing game in Croom’s era. If Wesley Carroll can gain the confidence Michael Henig (6 INTS) lost in last year’s opener, the Dawgs can surprises people.

Keys for La Tech:

1. Win special teams – The Techsters are out matched in this game, so they have to go above and beyond in the little things to keep the game close. An easy way to do that is by beginning drives at their own 40 and forcing the Bulldogs to start their drives deep inside their own territory.

2. Home momentum – La Tech always plays tough at home. Just ask Hawaii who needed several overtimes and a miracle to win in Ruston last year. This is a game La Tech can win. They just need to start fast and see where momentum can take them.

Vegas thinks: Mississippi State by 8

I think: Go with State. Tech is a team on the rise. But not that much. Mississippi State will cruise.

vs. 6:00 CDT

Keys for Arkansas:

1. Find an identity – This team lost three of the best players in the history of the Arkansas program in McFadden, Jones and Hillis. So the Razorbacks need to find new stars and new contributors if they want to compete in the SEC and cupcake games are an easy way to do that.

2. Learning the playbook – Bobby Petrino will install a brand new offense and a brand new system to the Razorbacks. Again, cupcake games are a perfect time to work out the kinks and get all the loose-ends out.

Keys for W. Illinois

1. Disrupt Rhythm – Bobby Petrino will want to spread things out and throw the ball all over Arkansas. The problem is Casey Dick is just not a pocket passing QB. Western Illinois can keep this game close if they pop Dick in the jaw a few times and get him out of his game.

2. Win the first five minutes – They don’t have to have the lead, but they do have to avoid turnovers, penalties, anything that would get them in a 14-0 deficit early on. Western Illinois can hang in this game if they play well early. They have no chance if they have to play from behind.

Vegas thinks: Arkansas big (no line)

I think: Arkansas big, but not as big as people think. You can not lose 80% of your total offense and not experience some sort of setback. I see a 14-7 or-so game at half before the Razorbacks win a 35-7 decision.

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I will skip Top 10 and Daily Dime (kind-of) for today because my Saints segment ran so long. I will say that I went 1-1 on the Dime yesterday losing my sure thing and hitting my upset. My picks for tomorrow are:

Sure thing: Cardinals over Braves (Too easy to pick Sabathia’s Brewers)

Upset: Astros over Mets

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Headlines:

Merriman has 2 torn knee ligaments – If Merriman is down for the season, the Chargers will be on life-support before the season even begins. LT is their flash, but Merriman’s energy is their heart and soul.

US Women win fourth-straight gold – I would like to personally congratulate LSU graduates Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus for bringing home the gold! This is an accomplishment that these ladies will never forget. I plan to put together a package of “thank-you letters” to email to each of them and if you would like to pitch in, email me your sentiments and I will include them in my emails to them.
Favre again solid as Jets top Giants – So much for a learning curve. Favre has jumped right in and been near-perfect for the Jets.

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YouTube Video of the Day:

I really, really, really wish people would stop giving this guy hell about this. Sure, no one else ever did the antics he did. But I think that is just because no one has ever been good enough to take the time to showboat during such a short race.

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