Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt vs. LSU

Vanderbilt’s brutal opening stretch does not get any easier as the #4 LSU Tigers come to Nashville.

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Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt vs. LSU

Photo by Emily Gonçalves

Photo by Emily Gonçalves

Photo by Emily Gonçalves

Photo by Emily Gonçalves

Luke Mukundan

The Vanderbilt Commodores got some much needed rest this past week in their first of two bye weeks. This first bye week came at a point of uncertainty for the football team, as it was coming off of a disappointing 42-24 loss to Purdue. However, there was barely any time to dwell on that defeat, as the #4 LSU Tigers head to Music City to take on the Commodores.

By virtue of being in opposite divisions of the SEC, Vanderbilt and LSU rarely play one another. The two teams have not played since 2010 and Vanderbilt has not recorded a win in the series since 1990, when they defeated LSU 24-21. 

The Tigers, much like Georgia before them, will present another huge challenge to the Commodores during the early stretch of the schedule. LSU has been one of the more thoroughly impressive teams in the entire country by starting out 3-0, featuring a signature win over then #9 Texas. 

Vanderbilt will have its hands full trying to contain LSU this Saturday. If the Commodores want any hope of pulling off the major upset, these three matchups will be of the utmost importance.

Vanderbilt secondary vs. Joe Burrow

After a game against Georgia in which Vanderbilt’s secondary gave a respectable performance, the group struggled mightily in its matchup with Purdue. Players were often caught out of position and let opposing receivers rip off big chunks of yards all game long. 

Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar threw for 509 yards and five touchdowns, both of which are career highs. This week will not be any easier, as LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is as hot as anyone in the country.

Burrow, a second-year starter at LSU, has been on a tear to begin the year. As of Week Three, Burrow leads the nation with an 83.3 percent completion percentage and ranks second with 1,122 yards passing. Additionally, he already has 11 touchdown passes, only five less than he had the entirety of last season. 

Burrow has basically been unstoppable to start this season and Vanderbilt’s secondary is tasked with slowing him down. If there is any matchup that might determine how the game will go for the Commodores, this may be it.

Vanderbilt receivers/tight ends vs. LSU secondary

Vanderbilt’s pass catchers had quite the bounce back performance against Purdue after being held largely in check in Week One. Three players had over 50 yards receiving against the Boilermakers, including Chris Pierce, who had his first career 100-yard receiving game.

The receiving group was able to get plenty of separation against overmatched Purdue cornerbacks. However, Kalija Lipscomb, Jared Pinkey and the rest of the receiving corps will now be tasked with doing the same against an LSU secondary whose reputation precedes it.

The self described “DBU” has been a factory for excellent defensive backs for years now. Players such as Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Tre’Davious White are just some of the names that have starred for the Tigers. This year, though, “DBU” has struggled to live up to its name.

Despite big name talent like Kristian Fulton and Grant Delpit, LSU’s secondary has been a weak point in an otherwise stout defense to begin this season. The Tigers are one of only 12 teams in the FBS who have yet to record a single interception. They have also had trouble stopping their opponents from picking up yardage, as two of their first three opponents threw for more than 200 yards.

Coming into the season, Vanderbilt’s receivers and tight ends were perceived as some of the most talented players on the team. Against an underperforming LSU secondary, they might have the opportunity to live up to these expectations.

Vanderbilt offensive line vs. LSU defensive front

A common theme during Vanderbilt’s first two games was how overmatched the offensive line looked. Against Georgia, botched snaps and poor blocking from a makeshift line kept the offense from putting together any drives. The next week was much of the same, as even with guard Saige Young reentering the starting lineup, the offensive line gave a performance that left much to be desired.

With starting left tackle Devin Cochran questionable to return this week against LSU, it is not unreasonable to assume that the offensive line will continue to struggle. That holds especially true since LSU sports a skilled defensive front that reflects the intensity of Head Coach Ed Orgeron. 

So far this season, the Tigers have compiled eight sacks as a team and only let opponents run for 80.3 rushing yards a game. LSU ranks 15th in the nation in yards per rushing attempt, only allowing 2.4 ypc. 

The Vanderbilt offensive line is badly in need of a signature performance this week, as the way in which they perform will dictate how well the rest of the offense will perform. If they are not able to improve their play, then a talented LSU defensive front may be quick to take advantage. 

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