With a running quarterback on the schedule, LSU handed the ball to the strangest of players on Monday to prepare for Appalachian State — freshman cornerback John Williams.

Yes, John Williams, LSU’s ultra athlete who projects to be either a wide out or corner at LSU is doubling as quarterback in practice to help the LSU defense prepare for the dual threat Mountaineer Armanti Edwards.

LSU’s gameplan for Edwards is simple: They want him to throw the football from the pocket.

The Tigers believe that Edwards can beat them when he is throwing on the run and is running the football on what they call “un-broken, broken plays,” but they feel that from the pocket he will be a lame duck.

To make sure that Edwards stays in a box on Saturday, LSU hopes to generate a massive push from their front-four. The believe if that if LSU wins the battle on the lines that they will be able to trick Edwards into interceptions with more players in coverage down the field.

A good dose of news for LSU was that defensive tackle Charles Alexander returned to practice after missing several practices with a sore hamstring. Alexander said he is nearly 80 percent ready and hopes to start Saturday.

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I’ve broken down so many aspects of Saturday’s game and I will continue today with the linebackers.

Linebackers:

LSU – The Tigers have tremendous talent at their starting positions with Darry Beckwith, Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard anchoring the ship with reserve Jacob Cutrera serving as the primary backup to each LSU backer. But LSU’s problems lie in linebacker depth and with a quarterback who runs as much as Edwards, it will be tough and vitally important for new coordinators Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto to keep everyone fresh.

ASU – The strength of the ASU defense is their backers led by All-American Pierre Banks who recorded 100+ tackles this past season. Another kid to look out for in the Mountaineer linebacker corp is DJ Smith who saw time as a starter last season and has looked great for the Mountaineers in fall camp. The ASU backers will be busy Saturday trying to contain LSU’s brutal rushing attack, but they may be up to the task.

Adv: Appalachian State (Pierre Banks could start on darn near every D-I school. LSU’s backers will be good this season. I just don’t like their depth against the Mountaineer’s style of offense).

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One sport is already underway on campus as the LSU soccer team improved to 2-0 on the season last night with a 4-1 home victory over BYU.

These Tigers are for real. After making it to the Round of 32 last season and returning the majority of last season’s squad, LSU is one of the preseason favorites to take home the SEC.

All of the credit in my opinion is owed to Brian Lee, who has instilled the program with a winning mentality and the results have followed.

I know soccer is not the most popular sport around these parts. But if you guys ever have an evening with nothing to do, go check these out these ladies. They are fun to watch.

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Back to football now, here are a couple more breakdowns as we get closer to Thursday’s opening kickoffs.
at 7:00 CDT

Keys for Alabama:

1. Boys become men – Alabama has so many young men on their roster. With ESPN’s College Gameday and the whole world watching, will Bama’s freshmen and sophomores buckle under the heat?

2. Parker Wilson needs to be leader – John Parker Wilson needs to be more like John Elway and less like Wade Wilson for Alabama to have a chance this season. When the Tide folded last season, Parker Wilson was the first person to buckle.

Keys for Clemson:

1. Don’t believe how great you are until you prove it – Clemson has been their own worst enemy in the past 4-5 seasons and have never played well with hype on their side. Well, guess what? Clemson is in the preseason Top 10 and people are expecting big things.

2. Physicality – I can assure you a Nick Saban-coached team will not be afraid to “bring-it” with SEC-style physical play. Clemson needs to up the ante and be willing to punch back or they will be lying on the canvas.

Vegas thinks: Clemson by 5

I think: Clemson makes a statement and rolls over a youthful Alabama squad.

at 2:30 CDT Sunday

Keys for UK:

1. Restock the tool box – No Andre Woodson. No Jacob Tamme. No Rafael Little. The Wildcats need to find new guys to score touchdowns and gain yards.

2. Bring the pain – Louisville is traditionally soft team who wilts when they are hit in the mouth. Kentucky needs to play the way they did against LSU this past season and bring the game to their opponent. If they do so, they will see their opponent’s knees buckle by halftime.

Keys for Louisville:

1. Track shoes – Louisville wants to turn this game into a track meet. The higher scoring the contest gets, the more it fit’s the Cardinals, because the Wildcats do not have enough offensive identity to match them point-for-point.

2. Red Zone offense and defense – Louisville needs to get 6 when they are in striking distance and hold Kentucky to 3 when they are in striking distance. If they do those things, they will win handily.

Vegas thinks:
Louisville by 4

I think: Louisville covers easily at home

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Here are two more previews in my NFL game as that season also gets closer to beginning.

NFC South:

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NFC North:

Chicago Bears – 6-10 – Kyle Orton? Really? If the Bears had anyone legit at QB, they would be a 10-12 win team, but not Kyle Orton.

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NFC East:

Philadelphia Eagles – 7-9 – When Donovan McNabb gets injured this season, where will the Eagles turn? Kevin Kolb maybe? I just don’t see it with this team. Westbrook is good, but how much can he do all by himself?

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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:

Miami Dolphins – 4-12 – I like some of the things Bill Parcells has done. But signing Chad Pennington was not one of those things. With a roster full of 20-somethings, why hinder their development with a veteran when the team will stink anyway?

New York Jets – 9-7 – Brett Favre makes this team a threat. But they are a hair short of championship caliber this season.

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AFC West:

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More blanks removed tomorrow.

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Top 10:

Three people to go in my NBA list. I admit my list has changed after watching the Olympics. Call me a flip-flopper, call me whatever you may, but here is No. 3 on our list.

No. 3 NBA player: Chris Paul

I know I will get heat from this one from my fellow Louisianians who live, breathe and die Chris Paul (only when the Hornets are winning, of course, because when they are not, they don’t go to the games). And Paul is a terrific player, but I see LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as trumping Paul in that they are better defenders.

The thing that helps CP3 in this race is that he is so youthful and if we did this same list 5 years from now, Paul would maybe be a clear-cut number one. But his defense is sometimes a liability. Just ask Coach K who watched Paul give up 20+ points to the Spanish guards in Sunday’s gold medal game.

No. 2 comes tomorrow.

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Headlines:

Giants contact Strahan about return – I hate to say it, but I told you all so. I speculated about this all last night and it appears to be true. I don’t like Strahan and I don’t like people who pretend to retire and then return, so this is a perfect fit for Strahan.

Shamrock to fight Slice at Elite XC card this fall – Cody talked about this earlier and I am sure he will give you his opinion of the fight later. I personally think this could be a pretty even fight because Shamrock is so seasoned and so technically sound where Slice is just a brawler.

Texans’ WR Williams’ career probably over – Williams was injured on a special teams play in Friday’s loss to the Cowboys. I am sorry that this turned out to be so serious and I hope nothing but the best for the player and his family.

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YouTube Video of the Day:

With this man still fighting free agency, he are 10 reasons the Hornets should sign him.

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