In our weekly Q&A feature, we teamed up with And The Valley Shook, SBNation's LSU representative. Here are the answers from their writer, Poseur.
1. What aspects of LSU's team were the highlights from week 1?
P: The running game. LSU had two backs go for 100 yards and it looked like the team could have run for five yards a pop all night had they wanted to. Beckham stepping up as a big time punt returner in the first game without Mathieu was also a huge deal. LSU's special teams are routinely excellent under Miles, and this year seems to be more of the same.
2. Is there anything that looms as a possible weak point after seeing the first game?
P: The secondary is young, but it was the veterans who combined for a breakdown to turn a simple underneath route into an 80-yard touchdown for North Texas. Awful coverage with even worse safety support. It's one thing for the kids to look shaky, but seeing a guy like Eric Reid look lost isn't just a red flag, it's an alarm siren. I can't imagine how that could be a problem against a team like Washington...
The offensive line also had a rough night pass blocking. Mettenberger took a shot and left the game briefly with an injury. LSU responded by relying on lots of short routes to get the ball out quickly, but the line needs to do a much better job in pass protect. LSU has had real problems attacking downfield the last few seasons, and the offense needs to show some ability to make defenses play honest.
3. We've heard about LSU's stars, who are some less talked about players who could make an impact?
P: Debo Jones played his first game this Saturday and on his first play from scrimmage made a tackle in the backfield. LSU rightly has the reputation as a defensive factory, but it's been a long time since the Tigers have had a real star at the linebacker position. He's only a freshman, but he looks like he might be one. Then again, it was just North Texas.
On the other side of the ball, remember the name Jarvis Landry. He's not a household name yet, but he's going to be the next great LSU wide receiver. He's got good measurables and all that, but more importantly, he plays mean and physical. LSU receivers have gotten a bit soft over the past few years, but Landry looks like a throwback to guys like Michael Clayton and Dwayne Bowe. On Hilliard's long run, Landry was right there lead blocking. I love guys like that. He's a "football player."
4. The loss of Tyrann Mathieu: Big deal, medium deal, or small deal?
P: Huge deal. Mathieu was the best player on the defense from a unit I'm now listing as our biggest concern. Most importantly, he was just such a unique player. His position was essentially "Honey Badger" and he made the LSU defense almost impossible to prepare for. He added that Milesian element of chaos. Now, no one's gonna feel sorry for us, and LSU is still a legit national title contender, but there's no reason to minimize the loss. It's huge.
5. Is Zach Mettenberger enough of an improvement at QB that he could go out and win a game?
P: Well, LSU's done all right in close games the last few years, but yes. Mettenberger adds a new dimension to the offense and gives LSU fans some hope that the team could competently orchestrate a two-minute drill if need be. LSU hasn't had a guy under center that could win a ballgame in the final two minutes since JaMarcus Russell. Then again, LSU ran a two minute drill at the end of the first half and it ended in a pretty terrible INT. Mett has got to work on those decision making skills. He is better that what we have dubbed the Two Headed Dumpster Fire from last season, but that's a pretty low bar to clear. LSU still relies on the running game and the defense to win games, but there is going to be a time this season Mettenberger is asked to step up and win a game. Hopefully, he'll answer the call. Also, I hop it's not this week.
6. What, if any, impressions do you have of Washington?
P: Beautiful state. Love Seattle. I have a soft spot for Sub Pop, especially Mudhoney. I actually own a Jim Zorn jersey because, well, ZORN! Oh, you meant Washington the football team. Sorry about that.
I love Sarkisian as a coach and UW always seems to have a good quarterback dating back to Warren Moon. Washington played LSU tough the last time the two teams met, so I don't think anyone thinks this is going to be some walkover. The 23 point spread, to me, is shocking. If I were a betting man, I'd be running to my bookie to take those points.
Also, UW matches up well with LSU's weakness from my limited knowledge of the Huskies. Everyone remembers that track meet y'all played with Baylor last year, and LSU cannot win a game in which "whoever has it last wins." I watched a bit of your game with SDSU and if their defense gave you trouble, well, good luck. But I am legitimately worried about your passing game. I'm not one of those "SEC! SEC! SEC!" homers who thinks that there is no good football elsewhere and everyone else is soft. I do think that LSU and Bama's defenses are on a level above, but that's not a regional bias... those are just the two best defenses in the country. Washington is a quality program and I'm glad it has gotten itself out of the tailspin the program was in. But that's what you get for hiring Neuheisel AND WIllingham. Were you just conducting a bad football experiment or something?
7. Score prediction?
P: Close for awhile, but LSU pulls away late on a big special teams play. 30-17, LSU.