While Les Miles did not confirm the suspensions of running back Spencer Ware and cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon for Saturday's game against Auburn, the LSU head coach said there was an internal disciplinary matter that he wanted to keep private.
Bottom line: the Bayou Bengals will be short-handed in their SEC West showdown as the players sit out at least one game after reportedly testing positive for synthetic marijuana.
So how does this affect the Tigers?
ICONCB Tyrann Mathieu is one of three Tigers to be suspended for the game against Auburn.
Against Auburn, it shouldn't be too much of a factor.
While LSU has dealt with its share of distractions this season, most notably the Jordan Jefferson drama, this squad is well-equipped to survive without its leading rusher and Heisman Trophy-contending cornerback -- and that's something a lot of teams can't say. But the Tigers are not only talented, they are deep. While Ware leads the Tigers in rushing at 512 yards and has scored six touchdowns this fall, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue are more than capable of providing LSU with a sound rushing attack. Ford has rushed for 359 yards and six touchdowns, while Blue has recorded 235 yards and four scores on the ground. You might also see backup quarterback Jordan Jefferson have an increased role in the offense because of his running ability.
However, Ware is the one who brings the most physical presence to the backfield for the Tigers, so they will miss that aspect against Auburn. The good news for LSU is that Gene Chizik's squad doesn't have a Nick Fairley-type presence in the middle to clog up running lanes. Auburn is growing defensively, but this unit is not developed enough to ground the LSU rushing attack.
In terms of Mathieu's loss, senior Ron Brooks will likely step in and fill his void at cornerback, with fellow senior Derrick Bryant stepping in and playing the nickel back role. When the Tigers field six defensive backs, sophomore Craig Loston or redshirt freshman Ronnie Vinson could step in. There's also a chance that senior safety Brandon Taylor moves to cornerback. He's athletic enough to make the move, and LSU wouldn't see too much of a dropoff in production. If he does make the move, Loston would likely step in at Taylor’s safety spot.
LSU also catches a break this weekend because Auburn will be led by a new starting quarterback. Clint Moseley replaces Barrett Trotter in Gus Malzahn's offense, and he will be making his first career start. Expect run threat Kiehl Frazier to play often as well because Auburn will be looking for any kind of offense against the stout LSU defense. But receivers Travon Reed and Emory Blake are questionable for this game, so I'm not sure how much Auburn is going to be able to move the football if they miss this contest. Running backs Michael Dyer and Onterrio McCalebb are good, but you can't win being one-dimensional against LSU.
Miles' squad catches a break this weekend because of the competition. But will the off-the-field drama ever end in Baton Rouge?
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