Auburn vs LSU: Q&A With Death Valley Voice


Sep 21, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) looks to pass the ball against the LSU Tigers in the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

As we look ahead to Saturday’s Auburn vs LSU matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium, we sat down with Eric Slater, the new editor at Death Valley Voice (@DeathValleyFS on Twitter), the LSU fan site on the Fansided network. Eric, who you can follow @EricSlater, was kind enough to answer some of our questions in regards to this weekend’s game.

Fly War Eagle: The story of the week is Brandon Harris making his first career start for LSU. What can we expect from the true freshman?

Death Valley Voice: There is just so much upside with Harris. He has a cannon for an arm and is very mobile. He makes decisions quickly, spreads the ball around, and has shown an ability to improvise. In fact, Les Miles described it during his press conference yesterday as an ability to “ad lib” – case in point, during LSU’s blowout of New Mexico State, with LSU inside the NMSU 5-yard line, Harris took a snap out of the shotgun on what appeared to be a designed quarterback keeper. By all rights, the NMSU defense should have tackled him for a loss; however, Harris showed the ability to elude the defenders by stretching the field toward the sideline, then cutting upfield to get into the end zone.

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The LSU offense, which had been quite listless with Anthony Jennings behind center really sprang to life when Harris entered. There is much more energy with him in the game.

As to how this plays out Saturday at Jordan-Hare – I think LSU fans are much more confident with him than with Jennings, and the sentiment is that the coaching staff made the right decision here. It will be interesting to see how Harris responds in front of a hostile crowd. He seems like the type who will thrive regardless of where the game is being played. Bottom line is he gives LSU the best chance to win.


FWE: Harris isn’t the only talented true freshman on the LSU roster. Who else do we need to watch this week that wasn’t on campus last season?

DVV: Leonard Fournette has to be the top name on this list. A highly-touted recruit at tailback, he got off to a somewhat slow start; however, has shown improvement week-to-week. His performance against NMSU this past weekend was his best to date, 122 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. He has stated that the game is finally starting to slow down for him, and it shows. Earlier in the season, it appeared that he had his mind made up that he would just run over defenders, perhaps the way he did it in high school just a year ago. College ball isn’t high school, and that mindset wasn’t working. More recently, he is now showing greater patience and waiting for the play to develop, to wait for the holes to open up.

Another tailback to keep an eye on is Darrel Williams.   He is a hard runner who has had some early success, and has solidified his role as a regular in LSU’s rotation of backs.

Other guys on offense include three of the receivers, Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn, and John Diarse. All three have looked good so far, and right now, Dupre and Quinn have the potential to be breakout stars this year. Dupre and Harris have already demonstrated great chemistry. We haven’t seen it just yet, but Quinn is a speedster, and LSU fans are looking forward to seeing him on deep routes, and making catches in open space.

On defense, several freshmen are getting into the mix including Davon Godchaux on the defensive line, and Jamal Adams at safety.


FWE: Speaking of last season, these two teams played to a 35-21 final – and LSU win – that really wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. Of course, much has changed since then. How do you expect last year’s result to impact Saturday’s game?

DVV: I’m sure Auburn has had this game circled since last year, given it was their only loss leading up to the BCS championship. Even though Auburn went on a tear following that game, it stands to reason that they would want some payback.

FWE: Based on the youth throughout the LSU roster, and the result of the SEC opener against Mississippi State, there are some that think LSU could struggle this season. What is the fan base’s outlook for 2014?

DVV: The LSU fan base is accustomed to winning. The last sub-.500 season was 1999, so there is an expectation that the team will win. That said, there is a lot of youth on this team. We essentially lost all of our offensive firepower from last year, with Mettenberger, Landry, Beckham, and Hill going to the NFL. It’s not easy to replace that type of production. It follows that the offense would struggle somewhat to start this season. The offensive line is a veteran line that has also struggled, but more so with Jennings at quarterback. It is really uncanny how the OL has looked so much better with Harris under center.

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  • Most of last year’s defense is back, with the secondary the strongest of the defensive units. We do have youth on the DL, which at best has been inconsistent in getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We’re working a real stud into the linebacking corps – keep an eye on Kendell Beckwith, a sophomore.

    All that said, I believe a majority of the fan base came into the season expecting LSU to win 9 or 10 games. It’s funny though, with the struggles the team has experienced, and especially with the loss to Mississippi State, the “nega-Tigers” contingent of the fan base took on a “sky is falling” mentality, with some folks predicting an 8-4 or 7-5 season, with some stating that LSU won’t even win a conference game this year.   I think that has tempered a bit with the Harris at QB announcement.

    FWE: LSU has won the last three games in the series against Auburn. John Chavis’ defense completely shut down the Tigers last season, but Auburn was a different team following the loss in Death Valley. How does the LSU fan base view Auburn this year?

    DVV: Auburn is a team that always worries LSU fans. You just never know what’s going to happen when these two teams face each other. There sure have been some memorable games in this series. A couple of things this year come to mind right away – first, the game is at Auburn, and LSU has a lot of youth. How will these guys respond in this environment? Even more of a question now with a freshman quarterback, who will be making his very first start.

    The second issue is the Auburn offense, and how to contain Nick Marshall. This is the type of quarterback that can give any team headaches. He’s very similar to MSU’s Dak Prescott, who accounted for more than 300 yards against LSU a couple of weeks ago. John Chavis has to channel the success LSU had against Johnny Manziel the last couple of years and figure out a way to slow Marshall down. If Marshall can pull off a Prescott-like performance, LSU is in trouble. If LSU can contain him, then that gives LSU a better chance of pulling off an upset on the road. The key for LSU will be the play of the DL and linebackers.

    FWE: The game opened at Las Vegas sports books with Auburn as a 7.5-point favorite. The game is still a few days away, but would you care to make a prediction?

    DVV: I would like to think that LSU can pull off an upset. If LSU minimizes the mistakes and has success in containing Marshall, I would say LSU in a close game. However, it seems to me right now that a combination of youth and some struggles on defense will be difficult to overcome for LSU, so I would say Auburn takes this one by 7-10 points.