|No. 13 LSU, BYU face week of difficult adjustments|
BYU is 1-0 as it prepares to face No. 13 LSU in the Tigers' season opener Saturday.
Both teams had to adjust five days before the game when the location was moved from Houston to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans because of the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
What effect the Cougars' head-start might have and how well both teams adapt to the change of venue add intrigue to one of the more interesting match-ups of the first full weekend of college football.
"That's where they have the advantage," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said of the Cougars' 20-6 victory against Portland State last week. "We don't have that luxury, but also they didn't see us play, either. So we've got the advantage to see their guys, made a lot of cut-offs from the TV copies.
"So we understand what they are trying to do. Obviously, they are going to put in new wrinkles that we have to make adjustments, but we are very well prepared for that."
BYU wasn't overly impressive against FCS Portland State, but Orgeron said the Cougars will have his players' full attention.
"I'm going to show them the film," he said.
"I'll show the defensive line the film where Portland State's line is getting crushed. Their running backs are running over people. They are very physical and very good. Show them on the film where the defensive line is crushing their offensive line. They are a good football team. They will get that message."
Orgeron also emphasized what BYU accomplished last season.
"Their record was 9-4 last year," he said. "They won eight out of their last nine games. The four losses were by a combined eight total points. This is a good football team. They know how to win."
The Tigers finished 8-4 last season, going 6-2 after Orgeron was promoted from defensive line coach to interim head coach when Les Miles was fired after a 2-2 start. Orgeron was given a new contract as head coach after the season.
"LSU has a lot of tradition and they're a good program," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
"Everything you can think of, they're up there with all the great schools. We are just evaluating what we're going to see on the field. The tradition won't beat you, so we will focus on the team and players."
The BYU defense, which allowed Portland State to cross midfield just twice, will be focused on Tigers running back Derrius Guice, who led the SEC with 1,387 rushing yards last season. He'll be the focal point of first-year coordinator Matt Canada's offense.
Guice returned to practice this week after missing several practice days because he had wisdom teeth removed. Orgeron said he expected Guice to play Saturday, but added he wasn't 100 percent sure until he sees how Guice practices this week. Guice left no doubt about his expectation.
"My teeth ain't holding me back," Guice said. "I don't care if they pull all of them out. I'll be ready this week."
Sitake said his offense has to do a better job on first and second down than it did against Portland State when its average distance on third down was 9 yards.
"I'm concerned about having long-distance situations," Sitake said. "When it's third-and-long, it's going to be a pass and it doesn't take a brilliant defensive back to figure out that he should probably cover this guy, you know?
"We've got to get in third-and-3 to third-and-7. We get there and we probably see some more separation with the receivers."
In any event, BYU won't have to contend with LSU's best pass rusher -- outside linebacker Arden Key, who set a school record with 12 sacks last season. He won't play Saturday as he works his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.
"I'm guessing they're going to have a second-string (guy) that's probably close to just as good as him," BYU tight end Matt Bushman said. "We can't be like all, 'OK, great, this guy's out.' It stinks that he's out, but they're going to have guys that are ready to play and want to show themselves just as bad as he wanted to."
Orgeron said Ray Thornton, K'Lavon Chaisson and Andre Anthony are all candidates to replace Key. He hasn't announced which player will start, although they're all likely to play.