LSU's Miles: We won't underestimate Middle Tennessee
BATON ROUGE -- Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill wasn't about to concede a loss to second-ranked LSU before the game had even started.
But he wasn't about to provide the Tigers with bulletin board material.
Asked how Middle Tennessee would contain standout LSU defensive end Glen Dorsey when the two teams meet Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, Stockstill took a more diplomatic line than Virginia Tech offensive lineman Sergio Render did a week ago.
"For one thing, you can't say you are going to pancake him with one player like the player from Virginia Tech said," Stockstill began. Dorsey "is really good and one guy can't stop him. We have to do a good job of keeping him from penetration. I don't think we have one person on our team who can block him in a one-on-one battle."
At this point, it looks like it will take a monumental effort for the Blue Raiders to even stay close to an LSU team that has its sights set on a run for the national championship.
Middle Tennessee's offense put up 42 points at Louisville last week, but now will face a defense that's given up only seven points in two games, and shut out Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State on the road.
"LSU hasn't given up a lot of points in a long time," Stockstill said. "It will be a bigger challenge for us to score as much as we did against Louisville because I think LSU's defense is a lot better, but that doesn't mean I think we can't have success."
Virginia Tech, which came into Tiger Stadium ranked ninth in the nation, couldn't even manage 150 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, the Hokies' defense, ranked first in the nation the past two seasons, gave up 598 yards to the Tigers, who have now outscored their first two opponents by a combined 93-7.
Now LSU, which has yet to commit a turnover and has scored all 11 times it has advanced inside an opponent's 20-yard line, goes up against a Blue Raiders defense that allowed 58 points to Louisville.
Once again, LSU coach Les Miles finds himself on a public relations campaign on behalf of his next opponent to get his players and just about everyone else to take an apparent mismatch seriously.
At least this season, Miles can point to a few other upsets to make his case. There was Appalachian State's upset of Miles' alma mater, Michigan. But even closer to home was South Florida's victory at Auburn last weekend.
"If you look at some of the scores in college football, it tells you that you better be ready to play," Miles said. "You need to understand that it doesn't matter what conference your opponent is in or what their record is. If they have talent, they can reach up and play extremely well against you. It doesn't reflect on your tradition or what conference you are in, but how you are prepared. If you look at the Auburn and South Florida score, that is the most recent game I can remember that will get you to understand that Middle Tennessee is a very talented team."
Although it plays in the relatively weak Sun Belt Conference, Middle Tennessee is one of the best teams in that league and played in the Motor City Bowl last year.
Against Louisville, Middle Tennessee's Joe Craddock threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns, and Phillip Tanner added 144 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
The Blue Raiders also showed quick strike ability when Craddock hit DeMarco McNair for a 78-yard score.
Meanwhile, LSU starting quarterback Matt Flynn has been hobbled by an ankle sprain that occurred last Saturday. He's well enough to play, but backup Ryan Perrilloux has been taking most of the snaps with the first team in practice this week.
If Perrilloux starts, that's hardly a break for Middle Tennessee. In LSU's two lopsided victories, Perrilloux, once one of the most highly sought quarterback recruits in the nation, has had ample playing time. He's thrown for three touchdowns and run for another so far.
And LSU has shown it may not even need to throw much anyway.
With Keiland Williams and Jacob Hester leading the way, the Tigers rushed for 297 yards last week against Virginia Tech.
The News Star - www.thenewsstar.com - Monroe, LA
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