Washington-LSU Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 04, 2012
LSU allowed the fewest yards of any SEC team last weekend even without getting much from heralded defensive end Sam Montgomery. Montgomery figures to be more involved Saturday night when the third-ranked Tigers host a Washington team with a banged-up offensive line. LSU improved to 28-0 in non-conference games under coach Les Miles with last Saturday's 41-14 home victory over North Texas. Though the Tigers surrendered just 219 total yards, Miles felt the numbers would have been better without a couple of big plays by the visitors. "If we eliminate a 50-yard pass play and an 80-yard touchdown, the reality is that day looks very, very dominant on defense," Miles said. There is room for improvement, with LSU not registering a sack despite boasting imposing junior defensive ends Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Montgomery did not start and failed to record a tackle as he was replaced by senior Lavar Edwards for most of the game. A third-team All-American selection a year ago and a candidate this season for the Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player, Montgomery is being featured on the cover of this week's game program at Tiger Stadium. It was unclear whether Miles was resting Montgomery against an overmatched opponent, although the coach said that Edwards has practiced well and will play his share of snaps. Mingo and the Tigers are eager to get back on the field and correct some mistakes. "It wasn't our best performance," Mingo said. "We were a little jittery and we missed some tackles; something that we are not accustomed to doing." Washington won its opener 21-12 over San Diego State last Saturday, but the victory came at a cost. Running back Jesse Callier will miss the rest of the season after suffering a right torn ACL, and starting right tackle Ben Riva was lost for an undetermined amount of time with a fractured forearm. Coach Steve Sarkisian will likely have to use three sophomores on a revamped offensive line, and he's wary about what that unit can expect against LSU. "I don't want to say any of their names because I can't remember all of them but I know their numbers," said Sarkisian about the Tigers' defensive line. "It's 9 (Ego Ferguson) and 18 (Bennie Logan) and 77 (Josh Downs) and 90 (Anthony Johnson) and 99 (Montgomery) and 89 (Edwards) and 49 (Mingo), and they are good. That's no secret." Keith Price threw for 222 yards and one touchdown last weekend for the Huskies, who will have to rely more on Bishop Sankey on the ground with Callier out. Sankey rushed a career-high 22 times for 66 yards with one score against the Aztecs. "We're going to find out more about Bishop Sankey in a hurry," Sarkisian said. "He got quite a few carries the other night and he responded well." Price tied for third in the Pac-12 with 33 touchdown passes last season behind only Stanford's Andrew Luck and USC's Matt Barkley. "I like their quarterback, Keith Price, a very good passer," Miles said. "He threw for 33 touchdowns a year ago, he was 25 for 35 against San Diego State. In that game, nine players caught balls." Miles also had praise for last week's effort by his signal-caller, Zach Mettenberger. The junior completed 19 of 26 passes for 192 yards, one TD and one interception in his first career start despite briefly leaving the game when he was blindsided on a cornerback blitz in the first quarter. Mettenberger took concussion tests before he was allowed to return. "I passed with flying colors," he said. "I had to count backwards from 100 by threes. So I was pretty proud about that." Washington is making its first visit to face an SEC foe since a ninth-ranked Huskies team fell 40-14 at LSU on Sept. 24, 1983. The other meeting between these teams took place in 2009 at Seattle in Sarkisian's first game as Huskies coach. LSU won 31-23 over a Washington team that featured future first-round draft pick Jake Locker at quarterback. "We played (three) years ago as I recall and he (Sarkisian) had a very good team then and has improved on them," Miles said. "Now they have been to a bowl game the last two years. This is a much-improved football team."
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