There is also a hopeful feeling in
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL have made LSU -17.5 point spread road favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 88% of bets for this game have been placed on LSU -17.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Coming off a BCS championship the previous year, the Tigers (8-5) couldn't even meet the .500 mark in SEC play last season, thanks in part to instability at quarterback and a defense that often struggled.
Jarrett Lee took most of the snaps last season and threw more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (14). Jordan Jefferson took over late and allowed LSU to regain its dominant form in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, completing 11 of his first 12 passes as LSU beat Georgia Tech 38-3.
"People talk about (
Jefferson, who also has scrambling ability, will anchor what should be an exciting Tigers offense, especially with freshman Russell Shepard involved.
The versatile Shepard, technically the backup quarterback, will take some of
"We'll play him at quarterback. We'll play him at wide receiver and possibly running back," Miles said. "What he does with his feet certainly makes him special. He has great ball skills. He can catch it. He can throw it. We give him a limited menu with throws, but he'll have the opportunity to do those things.''
The top priority for LSU may be improving on defense. The Tigers allowed more than 30 points five times last season, giving up more than 50 each time in losses to
The team hopes it has addressed that problem with the addition of defensive coordinator John Chavis, who had held the same position at
"I think the enthusiasm, the attention to detail and the want to get to the ball (has changed)," Miles said. "To me, I think our players had an existing culture and got used to playing dominant football on defense, and I think John Chavis instills that in them with how he coaches. What kind of difference? Hopefully extreme."
Sarkisian, the former offensive coordinator for Pete Carroll at USC, will be trying to implement extreme changes for the Huskies (0-12) after their dismal final season under Ty Willingham.
"It hasn't been all about the physical nature of play," Sarkisian said of his initial months with the program. "It's been about changing the mindset, the culture, the way we think, the way we act, the way we talk, the way we walk. And it's been fun to watch this progression happen."
The Huskies may have extra motivation against the Tigers and Miles, although the LSU coach chose not to revisit his comments from 2007, when he jokingly referred to Washington, Stanford and UCLA as "real juggernauts" in the process of criticizing USC's Pac-10 schedule.
A healthy Locker will be crucial as
"One of the things coach has told us, is the past is the past, and you can't do anything about it," Locker said. "I don't know if it's up to us to prove that we are not last year's team, but to show we are a new team, that there is a new attitude and a new way we do things around here."
Locker likely won't run as much as he has in the past in Sarkisian's offense, but the coach gives
To turn the program around, the Huskies will also have to improve their defense.
This will be the farthest LSU has traveled to play a game in the history of the program, but the Tigers have had success in non-conference play lately, winning all 19 games outside of the SEC since Miles took over in 2005.
The teams' only previous meeting was a 40-14 LSU home win in 1983.
LSU is 5-14 ATS (-10.4 Units) when playing on a Saturday over the last 3 seasons.
LSU: 8-2 Over 1st 2 weeks of season
Key Player Injuries:
No significant injuries.
No significant injuries.
Posted: 9/1/09 9:59PM ET