LSU may not be playing its strongest opponent, but there are still plenty of questions to ask about the Tigers heading into Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan. In this week’s mailbag, we address LSU’s penalty woes, Brandon Harris’ potential and more.
Jarret Barrett – If LSU cleans up the penalties, is anybody in the country better?
Matt Barbato – The eight teams ranked ahead of LSU in the latest Associated Press poll would like a word, Jarret. Limiting penalties will certainly help the Tigers, but I’m not sure it makes them the best team in the country. There are still some questions about LSU’s defense and Brandon Harris hasn’t been forced to carry LSU in a game thus far. LSU also hasn’t played a truly great team yet. Mississippi State was a tough road contest, no doubt, but Auburn doesn’t appear to be the team many thought it would be in the preseason. Let’s put it this way: The Tigers won’t get away with 14 penalties against Alabama or Ole Miss. Limiting penalties gives them a better opportunity to win those pivotal games.
Lindsay Forsha – If LSU doesn’t beat Alabama this year, will Les Miles be on the hot seat?
Matt Barbato – I don’t think Miles will be on the hot seat if LSU’s only loss this year is to Alabama. This isn’t a second or third year head coach who is trying to rebuild a fledgling program. Miles has maintained a perennial program since he took the job in 2005. The Tigers have won at least 10 games in seven of Miles’ 10 seasons at the helm. Miles won’t be going anywhere.
Richard Bork – Do you really think that Brandon Harris can take this team all the way?
Matt Barbato – Harris has not been Peyton Manning during the first three games, but he doesn’t have to be with Fournette in the same backfield. Harris has excellent potential as a dual-threat quarterback, but he hasn’t gotten much of a chance to show it. I was impressed by Harris’ 51-yard pass to Travin Dural followed up by his 11-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Dupre to put LSU up 31-17 late in last week’s game. Those were two big throws that helped secure a victory. We have to see what Harris can do if Fournette and the running game cannot control the game. Which leads to my final question …
Brian Taylor – Can the Tigers’ quarterback save them if a team stacks the box on Fournette and stops the run game?
Matt Barbato – Teams have been focusing their attention on Fournette, but he’s still running through opponents. Harris is a good player, but I’m not sure he can carry LSU if Fournette is struggling. He simply doesn’t have the experience. Harris hasn’t thrown more than 17 passes in a game this season, and it’s tough to say he can win a game if he has to throw 25 or 30 passes. The jury’s still out on Harris, but he has the talent to be a quality starting quarterback.