LSU Readies for West Virginia Challenges
BATON ROUGE – When LSU takes the field on Saturday, they will do so against a West Virginia team that features a pair of offensive standouts in running back Noel Devine and quarterback Geno Smith and against a Mountaineer defense that will be unlike any that the Tigers will see this year.
The Tigers host the 21st-ranked Mountaineers at 8 p.m. on Saturday in Tiger Stadium in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. LSU, ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation, brings a 3-0 overall mark into the contest following last week’s 29-7 win over Mississippi State. West Virginia, also 3-0, is coming off a 31-17 victory over Maryland in its last outing. It will be the first LSU and West Virginia have played in football.
“We’ve had a good week of preparation,” LSU coach Les Miles said following Wednesday’s workout. “I feel like have the game plan well in hand. I like their approach; they understand that we have a lot to do and we are not where we need to be, but there is time and they are making the best use of that time.
“West Virginia is a good, quality football team and we are going to have to come ready to play. I think our team understands that.
Miles said the junior tight end Deangelo Peterson returned to practice this week after missing the first three games of the season with a foot injury. Peterson has practiced all week and will play on Saturday. Miles said that senior running back Richard Murphy has also practiced this week and is expected to play after missing last week’s game.
Against the Mountaineers, LSU will face an offense centered around Devine and one that is a version of the spread. Devine has rushed for over 3,500 yards in his career and Smith has thrown for 800 yards and seven touchdowns in his first three games as a starter.
“There offense is a little different,” Miles said. “It’s their version of the spread and it is a very good one. It is one they have been in for quite some time and have a very good understanding of. It is going to require good defense and for us to tackle well and be around the ball.
“I think it is going to be a great matchup. Certainly it is more than just Noel Devine, it is a very quality West Virginia offense, but when the ball is handed to him it will be a bunch of fast guys going after it.”
Miles said the best way to defend a player like Devine is to, “put a number of hats in his area, and pursuit is the most important thing.”
Offensively, the Tigers will face a defensive scheme the features three down linemen and five linebackers.
“Honestly there is a different challenge to it,” Miles said of the West Virginia defensive alignment. “We are not unaccustomed to it, we just don’t see it. You can have some familiarity with it, but you just don’t play it with any regularity. So even though it is old learning for the coach it is new learning for the players. It requires a focus to get it right, and I think our guys are working hard toward that.”
The Tigers will practice again on Thursday followed by a walk-thru on Friday afternoon.