LSU’s defense isn’t very complicated. Statistics would indicate as much.
The Tigers have the fourth best defense against the run in the SEC. However, there’s not much drop off against the pass. The Tigers rank fifth in the SEC in pass defense. Overall, LSU is fourth in the SEC with 14.8 points allowed per game and third in the SEC with 293 yards allowed per game.
“It all starts up front,” Tennessee center Cooper May said. “They’ve got a pretty good front four. Guys that are bigger bodies, got a little bit of athleticism to them. They’ve got two solid D tackles that engage and disengage with blocks well.
“Plus, they’ve got B.J. Ojulari. He’s a stud on the edge.”
Ojulari, the grandson of a Nigerian prince, has 14 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks this season and has been named the SEC defensive lineman twice this season. He’s the gem of one of the best defensive fronts in the SEC.
“Anytime you’ve got a solid front four then you’ll have a chance to stop the run pretty well,” Cooper said. “They don’t have guys that are small but they don’t have guys that are mammoth…They’ve got some twitch to them, some athleticism. They’ll be a good challenge for us up front.”
The challenge will be on display early on Saturday. The game was announced as a noon EST kickoff. That’s good for the Vols. Playing in Tiger Stadium at night is a notoriously difficult environment to play in.
“Oh yeah, it will be a tougher environment just because of the mass amounts of fans,” Mays said “And, it’s an SEC game and we’re a pretty big time opponent right now as far as our ranking so if you look at it like that I guess it will be a bigger environment. But, hopefully, it will be 11 a.m. there, so I know LSU fans are crazy but I hope they’re not all drunk by 11 a.m. so hopefully it will be a little bit dialed down.”
The early kickoff should also benefit the Vols in another way. Tennessee practices in the morning. LSU practices in the afternoon. That should benefit the Vols.
“It’s no problem for us because we’re used to practicing at 8 o’clock in the morning,” Mays said. “Being up at 6:30, in the building by 7:00, we’re not going to be caught off guard by the early wake up time at all.”
Playing a night game in Tiger Stadium can be a memorable experience. Mays is just fine passing up that memory for the opportunity to play the Tigers earlier in the day.
“I personally don’t enjoy late games,” Mays said. “You kind of have to sit there in the hotel room and sit there and wait to play all day. Just sit there and eat is about all you have to do. You kinda build up some nerves and stuff. But when you wake up in the morning and you’ve got to get ready and do all kinds of stuff, it happens faster so you don’t have time to get anxious about anything so I like to play early in the day especially on an away game. You get to fly back home and get home at a decent hour.”
And perhaps have time to celebrate.