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LSU football: Keys to victory against West Virginia

LSU football team's keys to victory today against West Virginia. The Mountaineers host the Tigers in LSU's Top 25 matchup in four games.

Tackle in space

West Virginia is LSU's third Spread-offense opponent this month, but different than Oregon and Mississippi State. The Mountaineers like to throw the ball around to many receivers and in all manner of routes. They won't go deep unless invited to. LSU defensive backs must tackle well in space and run to the ball in case the first defender misses. Expect to see defensive linemen and linebackers chasing down plays from the backside, because the field will be spread out. Mountaineers receivers and running backs aren't big, which makes them a little harder to pin down. LSU has to be careful not to overpursue on the pass rush because Geno Smith is a much better runner than Mississippi State's Chris Relf. The Tigers did a good job last season holding Smith to 119 yards passing on 14 completions, but the offense is a little different under first-year coach Dana Holgorsen. He may have some gadget plays to even the talent disadvantage.

Hammer the ball

West Virginia is less physical than Mississippi State because of a smaller defensive line, but the 3-3-5 Stack creates a different look that could cause some problems for the LSU line. The Tigers will probably work their physical running game and try to wear the Mountaineers down just as they did against Mississippi State last week, with Spencer Ware and Michael Ford pounding between the tackles out of two-tight end sets. LSU scored only one offensive touchdown last season against West Virginia but does have the tape to work from and an experienced line. Greg Shaw might get the start at left tackle if Chris Faulk can't go, and the line might struggle with the continuity. Constantly hitting the Mountaineers with the run will set up some passing opportunities later in the game, which worked quite well last week.

The return of Russell Shepard from a three-game suspension gives LSU an outside threat it hasn't had.

Get Russell Shepard involved

He's LSU's not-so-secret-weapon. Although he hasn't played, West Virginia will be ready for him based on last year's offense. Shepard gives LSU an outside threat it hasn't had. Expect Shepard to run some speed sweeps, and many of those bubble screens that have been going to Odell Beckham III will be going to Shepard. We are told Shepard is much improved, stronger, and it's about time for him to start living up to his promise. He has had more than two years to learn how to be a wide receiver but the point is to get the ball in his hands whatever way possible. His strengths are his moves, quickness and speed, which should make him dangerous in one-on-one situations. It's good that Miles wants to put him in the return game to give him another place to get touches. He'll probably be in on kickoff returns but not punts.

Source : www.nola.com

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