This may not be the marquee matchup of the weekend, but this will undoubtedly be a great game. Both teams are trying to improve on some sub-par quarterback play from last season and continue their dominance on the defensive side of the ball.
Jordan Jefferson is beginning his second season as the Tigers starting quarter back. Head coach Les Miles and LSU Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton have challenged Jefferson to become more of a leader in the 2010 season. LSU’s offense ranked 112th in the FBS last season averaging 304.5 yards a game. The junior quarterback threw 17 TD’s and 7 INT’s last season but the staggering statistic is the Tigers offensive allowed 32 sacks last season. While the sacks fall on the shoulders of both the quarterback and the offensive line, there is an apparent problem. College offenses rally around their quarterbacks so Jefferson will need to prove to be more of an on field leader this year for the Tigers. Will LSU’s offense be able to find some production and will the line be able to give Jefferson a chance to find open receivers?
North Carolina has a similar situation at the quarter back position but they also have the off the field drama of an NCAA investigation into the recruitment of star WR Greg Little and DT Marvin Austin. The Heels struggled with consistency last season on the offensive side of the ball. Senior quarterback T.J. Yates threw 14 TD passes last year but threw the ball to the defense on 15 occasions. The question for the heels offense will be finding some rhythm in the passing game if Little has to sit out.
Both defenses were extremely solid on paper last season. UNC finished 6th in yards allowed last season giving up 269.6. Marvin Austin was suspended Wednesday by head coach Butch Davis indefinitely. LSU ranked 11th in points allowed last season as they gave up 16.2 points per game. I believe LSU has the edge on defense because they played better competition week in and week out last year and will be tougher for UNC to deal with.
My prediction is that LSU will win a very physical game.