Breaking down the battle: LSU's O-line vs. Auburn's D-line
Week 3 of the college football season pits two SEC West heavyweights against each other: LSU and Auburn. Each team has tons of talent on both sides of the ball, but the biggest battle is in the trenches between the LSU offensive line and the Auburn defensive line. Who will own the line of scrimmage in Baton Rouge on Saturday?
The LSU offensive line is led by RT Vadal Alexander (+1.1 pass block grade), a projected first-round NFL draft prospect, and is looking to build on an up-and-down performance against Mississippi State last week. Maea Teuhema, ranked as the number one guard in the 2015 recruiting class, made his much anticipated debut and was inserted at LG as a second half replacement, which stabilized the running game. He paved the way for RB Leonard Fournette as the pulling lead-blocker on multiple carries. LT Jerald Hawkins, C Ethan Pocic, and RG William Clapp are above average players and round out LSU’s offensive line.
After losing defensive line stalwarts Gabe Wright and Angelo Blackson to the NFL, the Auburn defensive line has turned to DTs Montravius Adams (+7.6 overall grade) and Dontavius Russell (+6.1) to lead the way, and they have proven up to the task. DE/Buck Carl Lawson (+5.2), who is questionable after suffering a hip flexor injury in the season opener, is the top pass rusher for this unit and will line up all over the field in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s tenacious scheme. In just 27 first half snaps against Louisville, he garnered four tackles (two for a loss) and a sack. Senior DaVonte Lambert mans the other DE spot and is the less-heralded of the starting four-man line. After a disappointing performance against Jacksonville State, look for this unit to redeem themselves against a division rival.
LSU offensive line wins if…
They show power and seal off the aggressive Auburn defense in the run game. The Auburn defense is predicated on engaging blockers and reacting to the play. Misdirection plays can keep them guessing, but success lies within the offensive line getting great movement on the Auburn defenders and finishing their blocks.
Auburn defensive line wins if…
Adams and Russell anchor down and refuse to let any creases develop. If they can penetrate the backfield and blow up any power and counter runs before they gain steam, it should be a long night for the Bayou Bengals. They cannot allow LSU to get in a rhythm and sustain long drives with Fournette wearing their defense down.
LSU over Auburn
Carl Lawson suits up but is not his dominant self, which spreads the Auburn defensive line thin. LSU challenges the Auburn depth and leans on their run game. By dominating the time of possession and keeping Auburn’s defense on the field, LSU wins the game in a low-scoring affair.