Scouting report: LSU at MSU

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, something of a question mark before the season began, ranks third in the SEC in passing yards and pass efficiency. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, something of a question mark before the season began, ranks third in the SEC in passing yards and pass efficiency. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

KEYS FOR VICTORY

1. Get Russell going early

It has been 35 days since Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell has seen game action. The Bulldogs coaching staff needs to get him some easy completions early on to boost his confidence being back in the pocket. Last year, Russell had the highest completion percentage allowed by LSU since 2003 while throwing for a career-high 295 yards while the Tigers were ranked No. 2 in the nation against the pass.

LSU proved vulnerable through the air last week as Georgia’s Aaron Murray threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns. If Russell is able to duplicate that type of performance the Bulldogs have a chance at the upset.

2. Use the Dak Attack

If Russell is unable to shake off the rust early on, coach Dan Mullen needs to have a short leash with his quarterback. Dak Prescott has had the hot hand accounting for 862 yards of offense, nine touchdowns and no turnovers the past three games in his absence.

Prescott is a Haughton, La., native and was nearly plucked late in the recruiting process by the Tigers. The sophomore could be the spark the Bulldogs’ need off the bench should they fall behind early.

3. Don’t let Landry get loose

Last year LSU’s Zach Mettenberger connected with wide receiver Jarvis Landry nine times for 109 yards and a touchdown. Each time the Tigers got in trouble, Mettenberger was able to find Landry to keep the chains moving against State’s talented secondary. Last week, Landry hauled in 10 passes for 156 yards and a score against UGA.

The Bulldogs do not have Johnthan Banks or Darius Slay to turn to at cornerback this season. Their young secondary has fared fairly well this season but will be tested once again tonight.

WHAT TO WATCH

When MSU has the ball

Much of the focus the past two weeks has been centered on which quarterback would start tonight’s game. Mullen has stated that Russell would get the nod but expect to see both signal callers involved heavily in the game plan.

The Bulldogs want to get running back LaDarius Perkins involved more in the offense. The senior missed the LSU game last year due to injury and has just 29 carries for 109 yards in three games of action this fall.

When LSU has the ball

Mississippi State did not force any turnovers and generated only one sack against LSU last season. It will be imperative for the Bulldogs to apply pressure to Mettenberger and also catch a few breaks on defense.

LSU is the most balanced offense the Bulldogs have faced this season and the first traditional I-formation team. The Tigers are averaging 281.8 yards passing and 192.2 yards on the ground.

CRUCIAL MATCHUP

Zach Mettenberger vs. MSU’s secondary

So far, State’s young secondary has proven to be the best in the SEC West allowing just 189.8 yards through the air. The Bulldogs will have to battle a veteran quarterback in Mettenberger, who has an NFL arm and has made smart decisions with the football as a senior.

Logan Lowery