STARKVILLE, MS (WAFB) - 1. RB Leonard Fournette:
While quarterback Brandon Harris will be the most talked about going into this game, Fournette, because of how much pressure he can take off of Harris, will be key for the Tigers. If he and a veteran offensive line can make the Bulldogs respect the run and commit more defenders to try to slow the running game down, life will be much easier for LSU's sophomore quarterback.
The Tigers managed just 89 yards rushing as a team against Mississippi State in 2014, but that was before Fournette broke out against Florida. Now that 89 yards will more likely be his yards after contact.
2. QB Brandon Harris:
In many eyes, he's the only thing to watch for. The national perception of LSU's huge upside hinges on the performance of the man "taking the first snaps." One year older, players and coaches around Harris applaud his expanded knowledge of the position and offense as a whole. Unfortunately, he didn't have a test run last week, and there's likely no one that feels worse about that than Harris.
Harris has seen hostile enemy territory before via Auburn in 2014. He's studied the film. And if he's forgotten about how bad that performance was, he's been reminded repeatedly by the media with questions referring to his nightmare on the Plains. Against a Bulldogs team that won't catch anyone with their guard down this year, if Harris manages the game and takes simply what the defense is giving him, don't be surprised if the Tigers pick up their first win of the season.
3. DC Kevin Steele's Defense:
The Tigers new defensive coordinator isn't unfamiliar with Dak Prescott. He faced him as a linebackers coach at Alabama last year. That defense also handed Prescott and the Bulldogs their first loss of 2014.
The talent is there for Steele to work with, and there's certainly no shortage of motivation after Prescott totaled 373 yards and three touchdowns in Tiger Stadium last year.
The key is making sure they account for everyone on the Mississippi State offense while keeping Prescott in check. At the end of the day, the Bulldogs are a top 25 SEC team, even without some of the experience they lost after last season. They're all dangerous.
Opposite them, the Tigers are loaded with experience, despite the loss of senior safety Jalen Mills. It'll be fun to see how some of the freshmen (DE Arden Key, DB Kevin Toliver, DB Donte Jackson) contribute, especially if their numbers are called in big situations.