STARKVILLE • LSU has only managed two touchdowns in its previous two matchups against Mississippi State.
These days, though, the second-ranked Tigers are not having any trouble producing points. A high-powered LSU offense that is averaging 561 yards and 52.5 points per game invades Davis Wade Stadium today at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
“When I talk about the margin of error being small on a weekly basis, it is about negligible this week, because there is no margin of error because of the way (LSU) is playing,” said MSU coach Joe Moorhead.
Much of LSU’s successful start (6-0, 2-0 SEC) can be credited to the improvements made by senior quarterback Joe Burrow. The former Ohio State transfer only completed 57.8 percent of his throws for the Tigers last season but has connected on 79.4 percent of his passes this season for 2,157 yards, 25 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
“I think he is playing at a completely different level this year,” Moorhead said. “Obviously, with the new system they are running and some of the things that he is able to do ... I think you’ve seen him elevate his game in a year’s span and take it to a new level.”
Quarterback has been a major topic of conversation for MSU all season and continued this week with Moorhead’s announcement to start true freshman Garrett Shrader this week ahead of senior Tommy Stevens.
“It doesn’t change anything for me or the way I prepare or how I plan to play,” Shrader said.
Shrader led the Bulldogs to a 28-13 victory over Kentucky in his only start last month and is the only FBS true freshman quarterback with over 550 passing yards and over 350 rushing yards this year.
Mississippi State (3-3, 1-2 SEC) is trying to right the ship after back-to-back losses at then No. 7 Auburn (56-23) and last week at Tennessee (20-10). The setback to the Volunteers was particularly troubling with the Bulldogs only totaling 267 yards, surrendering seven sacks and tailback Kylin Hill only running for 13 yards on 11 carries.
MSU’s offensive line understands it has to play better than that for the Bulldogs to have a chance today against an LSU defense that ranks second in the SEC against the run, only allowing 91.8 yards per game on the ground.
“We’ve got to be more physical against a great defense that’s coming in here and they’re not going to feel sorry for us,” said MSU center Darryl Williams. “We’ve got to be up to the challenge.”