Last Modified: Friday, September 06, 2013 7:38 PM
There are advantages to opening the season against a ranked opponent in a much-anticipated game.
“It’s getting ready to play at a high level,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “It’s (knowing that it) requires your level of execution to step up. There’s an immediate pressure on your program to say, ‘OK, it’s not only (time to) get ready, it’s get ready to play at a high level.”
That was last week — and LSU responded with generally excellent reviews in a 37-27 victory over TCU.
But now the other side of the coin.
No. 9 LSU returns to Tiger Stadium for its home opener tonight as a 34 1/2-point favorite over a UAB team that lost to Troy last week.
“I feel like this year we treat every team the same,” LSU defensive lineman Ego Ferguson said. “Every team is a big game for us because each day means a lot.”
Easy to say, but sometimes harder to carry out.
Last season, then-starting defensive end Sam Montgomery admitted that the fire in the eyes of the Tigers was a little different when it was a Southeastern Conference foe as opposed to a team against which they’re expected to name their final score.
It sometimes showed — the Tigers often struggled (before winning comfortably) against the likes of Towson, North Texas, even Idaho to a degree.
“Coaches preach this,” said running back Terrence Magee, who came off the bench last week to lead the Tigers in rushing. “We know our opponents, their names and their faces. But we’re worried about us. So we’re just going out there and working on us getting better.”
Miles could trot out the revenge factor. LSU has never beaten UAB, and although they’ve only played once before, it was one of the Tigers’ most embarrassing upset losses, a 13-10 shocker in 2000.
In fact, the Blazers (0-1) are the last nonconference team to walk out of Tiger Stadium with a victory.
How much effect that long-ago game will have is debatable.
The Blazers put up some gaudy numbers last week before blowing a two-touchdown lead and losing in overtime to Troy, 34-31.
Like LSU, UAB had two receivers eclipse 100 yards in its opener, with Jamarcus Nelson getting 10 catches for 199 yards and Jamari Staples adding six for 103. Two quarterbacks, Austin Brown and Jonathan Perry, combined to throw for 339 yards. Running back Darrin Reaves had 107 yards rushing.
It’s the handiwork of second-year head coach Garrick McGee, who came from Arkansas, where he was offensive coordinator for the Bobby Petrino offenses that often gave LSU so much trouble.
“He will do some of the same things he did at Arkansas,” Miles said. “It appears that way on film. The advantage that he has, he has some awareness having played against us before. I think we can look forward to being challenged that way.
“We have the need to improve and I think this team is going to be ambitious.”