After the firing of Butch Jones, Tennessee now turns its attention to No. 20 LSU. This will be the first time the two teams have faced each other since 2011, a game in which the Vols won 38-7. The Tigers are fresh off a 33-10 victory over SEC West rival Arkansas. LSU currently sits 4-2 in SEC play with its only two losses coming to No. 1 Alabama and No. 16 Mississippi State.
LSU is coached by Ed Orgeron, who is in his first full season as head coach of the Tigers, although he was interim head coach at the end of the season last year. However, Orgeron has plenty of coaching experience, having been head coach at Ole Miss, as well as an interim head coach at USC. He is no stranger to Knoxville, as he was on the staff of Lane Kiffin during the 2009 season as a recruiting coordinator, associate head coach, and defensive line coach. He left after the 2009 season to join Kiffin’s USC staff. Orgeron also had a stint in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints as their defensive line coach.
LSU is led offensively by quarterback Danny Etling, who is a transfer from Purdue. Etling is in his second season as the starting quarterback for the Tigers, and has emerged as one of the top signal-callers in the SEC. This season, Etling has thrown 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. This Saturday will be the 21st straight game he has started at quarterback for the Tigers.
Etling’s favorite target is wide receiver D.J. Chark, who leads the team with 29 receptions for 718 yards on the year. Chark had his best game of the season in an earlier victory over Auburn, where he grabbed five receptions for 150 yards.
Derrius Guice is the leader of the LSU ground game, as he comes in averaging almost six yards a carry. He also has nine touchdowns on the year, and closing in on another 1,000 yard season. Last week was one of his best games as he amassed 147 yards on 21 carries, and three touchdowns. The junior from Baton Rouge was one of the most sought after players in the country when he came out of high school in 2015.
A nice compliment to Guice in the backfield is senior Darrel Williams. Williams has rushed for 602 yards and six touchdowns on the year for the Tigers. Williams and Guice are one of the best one-two punches in the SEC, as well as the country. When Guice needs a rest, the Tigers don’t miss a beat.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers depend on linebacker Devin White, one of the league’s top defenders. White had 14 tackles in last week’s game, and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. He had his sixth double-digit tackle game, and leads the conference with 103 tackles, with over 10 tackles per game. White is viewed as a strong NFL prospect in the future. His production in only his sophomore year is very promising for LSU.
The Tigers rank second in the league in total sacks. They are led in that category by defensive end Christian LaCouture, nose tackle Greg Gilmore, and outside linebacker Corey Thompson.
LSU is already bowl eligible, but they would love to add to its win total this week with a win over Tennessee, and improve its chances at a major bowl game. They make it clear that they are not taking the Vols’ struggles for granted. LSU understands the situation that Tennessee is facing all too well, because last year they dealt with the same issue when former LSU coach Les Miles was fired.
Featured image courtesy of LSU Athletics
Edited by Seth Raborn