Game Preview: LSU Represents WVU's Toughest Test - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Preview: LSU Represents WVU's Toughest Test


The Mountaineers will not need any inspirational speech to get up for a game against the No. 2 team in the nation. When LSU comes to town Saturday, that in itself will be enough to get the home team amped up and focused.

There is no shortage of confidence inside No. 16 WVU's locker room that an upset is on the horizon.

"Confidence level is high because we want to win," says junior cornerback Pat Miller. "We've got to win. We're trying to win every game, so this is just another game in our way of making it to the national championship."

All season, the theme has been to treat every opponent the same. Every game counts as the same toward the team's record, whether it's a win or a loss. This one, with its national implications, seems to be just a bit more.

"This game could put West Virginia back on the map and get a lot of recognition to this program," says Miller.

Miller was part of a defense that held LSU to just one offensive touchdown a season ago, and that was due in large part to a turnover deep in WVU territory that led to the Tigers getting a short field. Back then, it was Jordan Jefferson taking snaps at quarterback, but due to suspension, senior Jarrett Lee will lead the LSU offensive.

"He's putting the ball where they want him to put the ball," WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen says of Lee. "He's playing well. He's got the luxury of having a lot of good people around him, as well. We want him to have a really bad game against us."

Through three games, Lee is just 14 completions shy of his 2010 season total, throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception, which came last week in a win over Mississippi State.

The bigger test Saturday will be the LSU defense. This isn't just a unit with a strong defensive line or a stellar secondary – it looks to have very few weaknesses at all. In fact, Holgorsen claims on tape it's so impressive he isn't sure it's not the best defense he'll have faced in his career.

"[They are] as good as any of them," says Holgorsen. "They've done a good job with sustaining their program. They've been in two big games this year, which they've handled each opponent fairly easily. To say it's not going to be a challenge would be crazy."

As good as WVU's defense was in Baton Rouge last season, its offense was quite poor. Geno Smith, who averages 356 yards per game through the air in 2011, was held to 119 against LSU in 2010.

Sophomore defensive back Tyrann Mathieu leads the Tigers in tackles with 24 and the rest of the top five tacklers on the team are all based out of the secondary. The Mountaineers understand they face a tough challenge, but they are looking forward to it.

Sophomore receiver Stedman Bailey will certainly face a challenge from cornerback Morris Claiborne.

"He's a pretty tall corner and he looks to be pretty aggressive," says Bailey. They like to run a lot of man [coverage]. I guess they have a lot of faith in him that he will hold it down on the island, but we're going to get him."

A major key for the Mountaineers will be to get out to the same fast start they did against Maryland a week ago. If they can get their tempo running right out of the gate, they can give themselves an opportunity for a lead that will be extremely important to test Lee and the LSU offense.

Setting that tempo is more easily said than done, though.

"Oregon goes faster than anyone in the country, they [LSU] handled their tempo just fine," says Holgorsen. "One thing is concerning watching their defense that they don't play just 11 people. They have tremendous depth on both sides of the ball. They can put their twos in there and it looks just as good as their ones."

WVU doesn't have similar depth on either side of the ball. But the Mountaineers are not going to win this game based on having a better roster. They just need to have a better performance under the lights.

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