Jason Esthay (@TigerHype) runs TigerHype.com, an independent website featuring LSU sports, news, and opinions. TigerHype.com was created as a one stop shop for LSU fans whose goal is to give LSU fans everything they could possibly want or need in one centralized location. So basically they sell purple drank and fried foods. I kid. LSU is next as we take our early walk look at Auburn’s schedule, and Jason was nice enough to answer a few questions for us. You won’t hate him near as much as the last corndog.
1. Right at this moment, what is an LSU fan’s first thought of Auburn football?
First thoughts for Auburn this season? The term underrated comes to mind. I think Auburn is going to surprise a few people this year. It’s easy for people to overlook Auburn based on last season’s performance, but when you add two top-ten recruiting classes (2012 & 2013) and Gus Malzahn together that becomes a recipe for immediate improvement. I look for Auburn to make its way back as a top team in the SEC within a few seasons.
2. LSU has always run a mostly pro-style, slow it down offense. Why don’t you think Les has joined the Saban/Bielema “we can’t stop the hurry up, no huddle it so let’s change the rules” bandwagon?
One thing about Miles is that he doesn’t mind a challenge. He has a lot of confidence in defensive coordinator John Chavis and his staff and their ability to not only successfully game plan against those type of offenses but their ability to make in-game adjustments as well. LSU has had success in stopping these types of offenses in the past under Chavis, including against such teams as West Virginia and Oregon.
Funny how that the type of offense that gives Saban the most problems is the one that he wants “banned.”
3. Speaking of Les, how hot is his seat? How many losses this season would make you want him gone?
I would say that his seat is lukewarm for the time being, although there have been some trying to raise the heat under it due to his recent record in bowl games (1-3 since 2010), the 2012 BCS National Championship Game debacle, and last year’s uninspiring performance despite a 10-3 final record.
How many losses would it take this season before I’d want to see him gone? If we finish below .500 this season I’ll be extremely disappointed, but I’m not sure I’d start beating the “Fire Les” drum that quickly. LSU fans have become accustomed to double-digit winning seasons under Miles and if they’re expectations aren’t met many are quick to want to give him the boot.
4. What’s the excitement level like for this year?
The excitement level around Baton Rouge is pretty high for this season despite the amount of early draft departures and the Jeremy Hill issue. LSU still has several potential high-round NFL draft picks at key positions on its roster and we also have a solid group of very talented underclassmen.
5. Name two past and two present Auburn Tigers that scare you and why.
I’ll go with the obvious answer to your first question: Bo Jackson. For shear athletic ability, you can’t beat him. My second choice is Pat Sullivan, Auburn’s first-ever Heisman winner, with his almost 6300 yards passing, 57 passing TDs and 18 rushing TDs. What a gifted athlete at QB.
As far as current Auburn Tigers, no one single person stands out to me on the current roster, but if I had to choose, I think the two players who concern me the most are QB Jonathon Wallace and RB Tre Mason. Both have the tools necessary to flourish in Malzahn’s offense. I think RB Cameron Artis-Payne will make an impact this year as well. Now if you were asking me who was most likely to steal my laptop then…. just kidding!
6. There are rumors that Mettenberger has an injury that has been keeping him from participating fully in summer workouts. What have you heard? Do LSU fans have confidence in him either way?
Right now the rumors of Mettenberger’s injury are just that…rumors. The initial source of the rumors is fairly questionable and I have my doubts about its validity.
I think most fan’s confidence in Mettenberger is a bit higher this season, though I’d say that confidence is tempered with some caution especially after last season’s showing. Hopefully, he’s developing under new OC Cam Cameron and he’ll turn into a much more efficient signal caller for us this season.
7. Name two LSU Tigers that Auburn fans may not know about, but will want to keep an eye on.
On the offensive side of the ball, I’d keep my eyes out for Freshman Jeryl Brazil. Brazil is a speedster, think Trindon Holliday, but with more size and maybe even a bit faster. Although we have him listed as a DB, we look for him to make an impact not only as a return guy but as a RB in much the same way that Holliday and WR Russell Sheppard were utilized, especially on speed/jet sweeps to the outside.
You may also want to keep an eye out for JuCo transfer Quantavious Leslie who, at 6’4″, gives LSU the big deep threat that we have lacked at WR over the past few seasons since Reuben Randle’s departure.
On defense, watch for Sophmore Danielle Hunter, who takes over Barkevious Mingo’s spot at DE. He’s built similarly to Mingo and possesses similar speed off the edge as well. You may also want to take note of Junior DE Jermauria Rasco, who will start on the the other side of the defensive line opposite of Hunter. Although Rasco wasn’t a starter last season, and was buried in the rotation beneath Montgomery, Edwards, Mingo and Aghayere, he showed a lot of potential when he did play. Despite LSU’s departures at DE, look for this year’s starters to be just as solid.
8. I have made a “bold” prediction that Auburn will beat LSU this year. Once people stopped laughing, I reminded them that Auburn was 3-9 last year, and LSU beat them by a safety. What is your early score prediction?
Last year was a stressful game against Auburn for LSU fans. Fans had a lot of hope riding on Mettenberger going into that game and he just sort of fizzled out on the road against a SEC opponent and we had to rely on the defense to carry the day. I think both of these teams will be much improved this season, LSU offensively and Auburn on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately for Auburn, LSU’s defense will be better than the pundits anticipate AND the game is in Death Valley this year. LSU wins this one 28-13 but the game remains close (14-10) until midway through the third quarter.
9. How do you think LSU and Auburn will end up this season?
I hate making predictions this early. At this point, I think Auburn finishes the regular season 7-5 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. For some reason though, I have a sneaking suspicion that Auburn may pull off an upset this year, possibly Ole Miss at home, but it’s still too early to tell.
As far as for us, I think we finish the regular season again at 10-2 and 6-2 in SEC. I don’t think any team in the SEC goes undefeated this year, including Bama.
10. Most SEC fans hate going to Baton Rouge because of how they are treated. I have seen a huge foam (Auburn) tiger tail attached to the back of a van lit on fire. I’ve seen kids doing keg stands. I’ve been flicked off by grandmothers. What do you have to say for yourself?
Every fan base has its….zealots. LSU is no different. But for every visitor who tells me about a bad experience that they’ve had in Baton Rouge, I have one who tells me about how hospitably they were treated while visiting Death Valley. At least we didn’t poison your trees…#BeatBama