Auburn, Ala.--Facing a talented LSU team in its home stadium, Auburn will be underdogs Saturday for the first time in 15 games dating back to the Tennessee game on Oct. 2 of 2004.
The LSU talent and offensive efficiency starts with quarterback Jamarcus Russell, who has all of the physical tools to get the job done, but can also hurt his team with costly mistakes.
“He could beat you with his talent,” senior linebacker Travis Williams says. “He’s probably one of the most talented quarterbacks in the SEC so we’ve got to prepare to contain him.”
Russell can make throws that few other quarterback in the league can make, like his game-winning touchdown strike to Early Doucet against Arizona State in the season-opener in the closing minutes of the game. Russell was rolling to his left and threw the ball about 50 yards on a line while on the run to give the Tigers a 35-31 win.
While Russell has the ability to win games with plays like that, Williams says that sometimes he makes mistakes trying to do too much.
“One thing I know is that his arm strength has always been there, but he’s got so much confidence in his arm strength,” Williams says of the sophomore QB. “A lot times he could throw the ball away or take a sack, but he has so much confidence in his arm strength he tries to make plays.
“Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad,” he adds. “He’s got to know when to make a play. As a player he’s improving and he’s got the same offensive coordinator (Jimbo Fisher). Every year you should improve with the same offensive coordinator.”
Travis Williams and the linebackers will face a tough task against a very talented LSU offense.
To aid Russell in the LSU passing attack is an outstanding receiving corps of Doucet, Craig Davis, Dwayne Bowe and Skyler Green. Tailback Joseph Addai has also caught 10 passes this year out of the backfield.
Also, with all-star candidates Andrew Whitworth and Nate Livings up front Williams says that the LSU offensive line is the toughest they will have faced all season.
“The best we’ll see,” Williams says. “They’ve got big physical guys. They know exactly what they’re doing and they’re very well coached. It’s just another challenge. Every week it seems like it’s another challenge for our defense up front.”
Although Auburn has a 13-game conference winning streak and this is the biggest game of the season to this point, Williams says the team is trying not to view the contest as a make or break game.
“There is never pressure,” he says. “Any time you think there is pressure, that’s when you will go out and you will be nervous and all of that. We’re the underdog so there’s never any pressure. We just go out and play football.
“You’ve got to go out and play every week,” Williams adds. “Every week is a make or break game. Last week was because it was an SEC game, and the following week will be. So we’ve got to go out every week and prepare and execute out on the field.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game between the 15/16th ranked Auburn Tigers and seventh ranked LSU Tigers is schedule for 6:45 p.m. CST on ESPN.