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Three Things to Look For -- LSU versus UNC Prediction

The LSU Tigers versus the North Carolina Tar Heels will be a grind-em up, mash-em up type of football game. Don't be surprised if the players come out with no face masks, no gloves and all black cleats.

It's safe to say T.J. Yates versus Jordan Jefferson won't be Drew Brees versus Aaron Rodgers. (I would have linked Yates and Jefferson college highlight footage, but it took too much work to find them. In other words, they probably don't exist)

The game will be live and popping, and I can't wait to get to the Georgia Dome. Here are three things to look for...

1) How the loss of Marvin Austin will affect this game.

The LSU offensive line has to improve from the monstrosity of a season it had last year. The line committed too many penalties and really struggled knocking the opposition off the football.

Left guard Josh Dworaczyk told me at LSU Media Day that the transition of Joseph Barksdale to left tackle has been a smooth transition.

Despite it being Will Blackwell and Alex Hurst's first year starting full-time on the right side of the line, expect improvement at those positions. Hurst was superb when he played last season, especially when he gave a spark to the LSU offense in the third quarter of the bowl game versus Penn State.

With the recent suspension of Marvin Austin, I believe the LSU offensive line will have big opportunity to have a "Statement Game" against a formidable opponent.'s Michael Felder told me earlier this week the drop-off between UNC's first-team to second-team isn't as drastic as everyone believes.

The LSU offensive line can't use this suspension as a distraction, and will need to bring it's A-game for the offense to be effective.

2) How the LSU linebacking core will shape out.

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis has said mentioned numerous times about how Kelvin Sheppard is like having a coach on the field.

This is high praise, but doesn't come to much surprise when I visited the LSU Sports official site to see their is no coach specifically assigned to coach linebackers. This is the only position on offense or defense with a unit coach, so Sheppard has no choice but to be a coach on the field..

Sheppard will need an All-American effort for the Tigers defense to play big. The lack of experience in some spots on defense will need to be sorted out quickly in a loud Georgia Dome come Saturday night.

The unit was thrown a curveball when Ryan Baker suffered a jaw injury that will sideline him for the first few games.

The replacement starter will be either redshirt freshman Lamin Barrow or Kevin Minter. When I asked Les Miles earlier this week if he has made the decision who would starter, he simply said "No."

UNC's offensive line isn't bad either. Their line is big and physical, with the ability to get to the second-level in run-blocking. This could be overwhelming for freshman who have never played a game at the college level.

3) How will Miles perform under pressure.

Miles is undefeated in season-openers during his tenure at LSU, but that should be thrown out the window when the well-respected Butch Davis is coaching the other team.

Barrett Sallee of said these UNC distractions could hurt Miles. This is because his hot seat will only get hotter if he loses to a team with am inferior roster.

One of Miles bad wraps is not getting the most out of his sensational recruiting classes. A high amount of redshirt freshman will have to contribute in their first action as Tigers on Saturday. Many also considered Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle's freshman year as disappointments because of their lack of touches.

"The Hat" will also need to manage games better. Everybody sites his bad clock management versus Ole Miss, but Miles had many other issues with timeouts, getting plays in quicker and game plans.

For his magic he performed in 2007 to not be considered complete luck, he will need to prove that just wasn't a fluke.


Miles is 9-1, bowl games included, when his team comes into games well rested and, for the most part, healthy against opponents.

If Jefferson doesn't turn the ball over and not take untimely sacks, LSU should have no problem winning this football game. But after being around the Bayou Bengals since the beginning of my existence, I know LSU always likes to make games interesting. 

Either way, this will be a game my friends at the nursing home will enjoy.

Despite the LSU receiving core having a distinct advantage over the running backs, remember that Miles is a former offensive lineman from the Big Ten. He said earlier this week he wants to get back to playing LSU style of football, which is running between the tackles.

LSU 21 - UNC 13


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