LSU vs Mississippi State: Areas for concern

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It is time for the LSU Tigers to get a bit of redemption as they head into enemy territory on Saturday. Last year the Tigers fell to the Bulldogs of Mississippi State at home. It is time to return the favor as LSU looks to start off SEC play better than they did a season ago.

The team and Ed Orgeron know the importance of this game and getting off to a 3-1 start before really getting into the thick of their SEC schedule with Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, and Ole Miss in the month of October. It all begins with Mike Leach and the Bulldogs.

List

The five most important LSU Tigers against Mississippi State

As we look at the game against Mississippi State, we highlight the areas of concern for LSU.

Slowing down the Mississippi State passing attack

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Currently, the Bulldogs have the No. 1 passing attack in the SEC. No surprises with the amount of focus that Mike Leach puts on his 'Air Raid' offense. Will Rogers averages 54.3 pass attempts per game so the pass rush and the secondary will have opportunities to make an impact. Can the secondary limit the explosive plays that have hurt them in the first three weeks?

The offensive line play at left tackle

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The Tigers could be starting their third different left tackle of the season in four games. Cam Wire is likely going to miss Saturday's game, much as he has the last two games. Xavier Hill started at left tackle against Central Michigan, but Anthony Bradford looks to make the start this week. He has played on the interior for the Tigers but how does he do on the outside? It will be one aspect to keep an eye on throughout the game.

The health of the running backs

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It seems like the injury bug has really hit the LSU football team as of late, and the running backs are no exception. During fall camp both Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery Jr were in and out of practice. Emery now ruled ineligible is putting a strain on the rotations. Davis-Price was wearing the noncontact gold jersey during practice this week and Armoni Goodwin hasn't played since injuring himself against McNeese. If either is nicked up in this game, Corey Kiner has shown that he can be a factor late in games and he should get more carries moving forward.

LSU needs to convert on third downs

(AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Last Saturday against the Central Michigan Chippewas, the LSU offense was better at converting on third downs. With a step up in competition this week, they need to continue with keeping drives alive. Against CMU, LSU was 6-11 on third downs but overall they are No. 12 in the SEC at 38.1% conversion. They can't settle for kicks against Mississippi State.

Limiting the damage in the red zone

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Bulldogs are very good in the red zone this season with 91.7% conversions. They have nine touchdowns to two field goals. If Will Rogers gets them in the red zone, the Tigers defense needs to stiffen up and force the kicks. This year the defense hasn't been tested much in that area. Of the nine touchdowns surrendered, only four have come in the red zone on five chances. They have yet to force a field goal but do have one goal-line stand. Can Daronte Jones' defense do enough to force Leach into more kicks or just keep them out of the red zone altogther?

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