NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -
It doesn’t take much driving through Arizona to see that this is nothing like Louisiana. Just like it won’t take more than a few snaps on Tuesday to see that this LSU defense is missing some of its key players. That’s not to say that it will be a bad thing, but they’ll definitely need a few lesser known Tigers to step up.
“Those guys have been practicing,” says safety Grant Delpit. “They’re pretty comfortable now. Guys like Terrence (Alexander) and guys like Kary (Vincent) are getting thrown in the fire at corner. It’ll probably be their first full game starting. I just told those guys, ‘Y’all are ready. That’s why you came to LSU.’ I think they’re ready for the challenge.”
It does help, however, that the Tigers two biggest play-makers this year, Devin White and Grant Delpit, are both ready to go and ready to lead. And for Delpit in particular, what a difference a year makes, going from a young player with promise to a household name seemingly overnight.
“It’s definitely changed a lot over a year,” says Delpit. "Going from the spring, breaking my collarbone, to getting here. It’s definitely been a long journey, but it feels like it went by quick. It’s just preparation and nothing but God helping me and my family and support and the best coaches. You see coach Aranda over there, one of the best in the nation. It’s definitely been a long journey. I’m just grateful for it. "
But no matter who’s on the field for LSU, the challenge will be stopping a UCF offense that’s unlike most opponents they’ve seen this season. This is where having a month to prepare for the opponent can play a huge role.
“The way that they run their offense and the way that they do things are different,” says defensive end Rashard Lawrence. “We’ve prepared days and days for tempo and having two huddles and trying simulate how they do it. You really can’t simulate it, but it’s very helpful to have a little extra time.”
If there’s anyone you could compare them to, it would be Ole Miss, a team that likes to spread it out and take their shots down the field.
“They’re going to go so fast,” says defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. “They’re not going to give you a pre-snap. Then it’s all isolation. It’s all vertical,s man. There is no, ‘Hey, I’m helping you here.’ Or, ‘Hey, pass it on to me.’ It’s you got them. And they’re split where the number one receivers are about three yards from the sideline. You don’t have this luxury of, ‘Hey, let’s play this zone and pass it off.’ There’s none of that. So that’s a unique challenge when you play these guys.”
Which, once again, puts the pressure on Kary Vincent, Terrence Alexander and the other back-up corners stepping up for Greedy Williams, a suspended Kelvin Joseph, and an injured Kristian Fulton.
“As far as who’s out there, it doesn’t really matter for us,” says Alexander. “It’s the same thing if you’re first team, second team, or third team. We’re all practicing the same. We’re all practicing hard. We’re all depended on to know the same things. It’s just when it’s your time to take the chance and opportunity to play, you’ve just got to step up.”