In the walk-up to the game in Baton Rouge -- which looks, at this point, to be the toughest of South Carolina's season -- we asked a few questions of fellow SBN Blogger And the Valley Shook, which covers LSU.
The questions and anwers follow.
Would it be wrong to say that LSU looks like it's headed toward a two-QB system with Matt Flynn and Ryan "Casino" Perrilloux? Is that a setup you would like to see, or do you have a favorite?
As far as most of us can tell, we're not headed for any sort of Florida-style Jesse Palmer/Doug Johnson type of dual QB system. But we might be headed for a Florida-style Leak/Tebow system. Perrilloux is definitely going to get his snaps, and he'll get some early. He played the entire game last week against Middle Tennessee State, while an injured Flynn rested, and he was superb. I don't have a favorite, and it's a great change-of-pace. Unlike our running back by committee situation, both quarterbacks have the capability of making big plays. Until the Virginia Tech game, we knew Flynn could do it with his legs. Now we know he can do it with his arms. Until the MTSU game, we knew Perrilloux could do plenty with his legs. Now we know he's quite capable throwing downfield as well. It's a good problem to have, I'd say.
You might have been asked this before, and if so I apologize. But is Les Miles really a nutcase or an idiot? How scared are you that he might be Michigan-bound (or, conversely, how scared are you that he might not be Michigan-bound)?
I haven't been asked it by a South Carolina fan, so I'm happy to give you my perspective! He clearly has a penchant for one-off stupidity, and in the past has demonstrated some rather bizarre in-game decisionmaking. But his overall resume is quite impressive. He may have won with Nick Saban's players the past couple years, but he has racked up some mighty good-looking wins. We went into Tuscaloosa in 2005 when Bama was a Top 5 team, and we knocked them off. We destroyed Top 10 Miami in the Peach Bowl.
I'm not at all scared that he might be Michigan bound, because I'm convinced he is Michigan bound. I think most LSU fans have learned to accept that at this point. Hopefully people will stop bugging Miles and let him just coach this team. It's funny how until the last few weeks, the world thought of Les as a boob. Then they figured out how much Michigan covets him, and evidently he's now much more respected in the national psyche. This before we trotted out and carved up Virginia Tech.
I think most Tiger fans would have been fairly indifferent prior to the season if you'd told them that Miles would be gone at the end of the year (setting aside the natural implications of what that'd say about 2007 accomplishments, of course). He's certainly strengthened his resume a good bit these first three weeks, but we'll see how it holds up over the rest of the season.
Not crazy, just stupid every once in awhile.
How much does it hurt the offense if Early Doucet misses the game?
Most would point out that we didn't lose a beat last week, though up against an admittedly inferior team. It was good to get the newbies (Terrance Toliver, Demetrius Byrd) some reps. The former's a freshman, the latter a juco transfer, so they need the big time reps. That said, your corners are no slouches, which means these two will have to step it up pretty big to help us move the chains. I don't think it's at all improbable to think that we have trouble moving the ball against you. We stick to the running back by committee approach -- which thus far has been perfect, proving me completely wrong -- but maybe it fails us when we really need a back to develop a rhythm if the passing game isn't in sync. We'll find out.
But not having the experienced Doucet stings a good bit.
Is your defense really that good, or has it just been feasting on offenses that are, how shall we say this, a bit anemic?
Are we that good? Hell yes. We bring the pain. We are the best defense you will face this year, by a longshot. If Spurrier comes with a gameplan that dissects us, pay no heed to the inevitable postgame "LSU's defense is overrated" chatter. You guys will have accomplished a monumental task and you'll deserve all the props in the world. I think the only people who'd disagree would be USC fans: College Football Resource, for one, has called us "flawed" partially because our LBs are "awful" in coverage...his USC Trojans yielded 10 points to Idaho, and meanwhile we've yet to allow 10 points over the course of THREE FULL GAMES (well, two at the point of his discussion). I think he's nitpicky, but that's just me. I'd think that over three games someone would have figured out how to exploit that coverage weakness. Especially a team that rolled up 555 yards on the #9 team in the country the week before (MTSU vs Louisville). Judge for yourselves.
Anyway, we return 8 starters from a defense that finished 3rd in the country last year in total defense. DT Glenn Dorsey, of whom you have heard plenty, would have been a first rounder last year. DE Tyson Jackson will join him as a first rounder this year. Our corners are arguably the best in the SEC, and our linebackers fly around as well as anyone. Our safeties were largely untested coming into this year, but Craig Steltz has emerged with a NCAA-best 4 INTs, though perhaps Mississippi State QB Henig gifted all 3 of his to him. Bo Pelini is a mastermind at confusing opposing offenses, and it's gotten to the point where it's as fun watching our defense as it is watching our offense. We are a defensive juggernaut. I have near zero concern about that side of the ball -- UNLESS we are facing a mobile QB. The short stints of VT's Tyrod Taylor and MTSU's Dasher showed sparks of light for opposing offenses.
Mobile quarterback? Not so much.
Name one player that South Carolina fans might not have heard about that will have a major influence on the game Saturday.
I'm guessing you've heard of virtually everone on our defense who will make an impact. On offense, you've clearly heard of Flynn, Perrilloux, Keiland Williams and Brandon LaFell after the Va Tech game, and probably Jacob Hester as well. That doesn't leave a whole lot here, so I'm going to go with WR Demetrius Byrd (#2). He runs a 4.3 40 (or thereabouts). Wheeee!! On one play vs MTSU last week, he ran a post route while Perrilloux took a five step drop and then bombed it. Looked like RP put everything he had into that ball (50 yards in the air), and Byrd still had to pull up, in coverage, catch the ball over the guy, and then come down and sprint into the endzone with it. It's a toss up though between him and Toliver (#80). They'll have to pull their weight for us to put up the points this week; we can't just run all day or expect LaFell to be consistently open.
This is a game between (right or wrong) the No. 12 team and the No. 2 team, but the line is in the double digits. Too low, too high or about right?
I'm always going to think a near twenty-point spread over the #12 team in the country has got to be a little much. But we were favored by 12.5 over #9 Virginia Tech at home and steamrolled them. I tip my hat to Vegas, they've been more right than I have this year. We've covered the spread in all three games by the way (it was around 17 vs Mississippi State and 40 vs MTSU). Given we lack Doucet this week, and that I think your defense has some good things going for them, I once again think that spread is high.
And, of course, your prediction for the game (i.e., how badly will you guys kill us)?
I don't think we'll kill you. I'd love to, because I hate the OBC, but I have too much respect for him to ever expect us to really be able to pull a rout on him. I'm going to go with LSU, 20-7.
This will not happen. Or so says ATVS.
Thanks again to And the Valley Shook for taking part. Hopefully, LSU won't be shaking too much Saturday, as that would certainly mean the Gamecocks were in trouble. But there will probably be some interesting seismograph readings waiting for the LSU geologists Monday morning.