GBH: What's the mood of the fan base after the third loss of the season, to Bama, no less?
ATVS: Um...yeah...not good. LSU fans passed the "success spoils success" stage a long time ago, and there's a healthy chunk -- how large, I'm not sure, but very vocal -- that regards a three-loss season as a waste of their time. Lots of "well there's nothing to play for." Of course, we at ATVS regard these people with tremendous scorn and are all for their ridicule and banishment.
Plus, quite frankly, there's been a tendency for LSU to flounder a bit after the Alabama game, especially after a loss. So there's a real concern that trend will continue this year. Maybe that's because Alabama is all the fans talk about.
That said, between the losses, the time slot (it's difficult to explain how much LSU fans HATE day games) and the first day of duck-hunting season, a sparse crowd would not surprise me at all. Sadly, I won't even be in the stadium due to a family vacation I'll be leaving for (though this was decided a year ago).
GBH: What's the status of Mettenberger?
ATVS: Of course, Les Miles will tell you he's a full-go, but in my opinion, I don't think he's 100-percent. I don't think he has been for a few weeks. Ankle, shin, knee, I've heard a few different explanations. He's been playing on it, and doing a relatively fine job, but I don't think he's playing without pain. But Zach's a tough SOB, and I'm sure the open date helped him.
GBH: Why do you think the young LSU defense has failed to develop as rapidly as many expected?
ATVS: Actually, the problem really hasn't been the youth -- it's been an underachieving group of veterans. Veteran linebackers like Lamin Barrow and D.J. Welter, and senior (and preseason all-conference choice) safety Craig Loston have really underachieved. Barrow was a 100-tackle guy, and Loston made a ton of plays down the stretch in 2012. What we've found out the hard way, is that they needed studs like Kevin Minter and Eric Reid drawing offenses' attention and helping out those guys mentally. Cornerback Jalen Mills, after a Freshman All-American 2012, has also really struggled.
On top of that, defensive linemen Anthony "Freak" Johnson and Jermauria Rasco just haven't gotten the job done up front.
GBH: Is there any frustration among the fanbase with Miles for having three conference losses already?
ATVS: See answer No. 1. The funny thing is, a lot of fans talked about expecting somewhere between 2-4 losses this year with a young team and a difficult schedule. But shame on me for expecting logical consistency out of sports fans, right?
Honestly, the frustration comes from watching this offense perform so well at times after years of inconsistent play there, and a really bad loss to Ole Miss where LSU just didn't show up to play. A loss like that will never be well-received, and the truth is, no matter what most people say they expect, a three-loss season will always draw a lot of heat here.
GBH: What is LSU's injury situation? Was the bye week a helpful respite?
ATVS: It was certainly helpful for the standard fatigue and wear-and-tear. In terms of injuries, Mettenberger is the only player that I know for sure is battling something. My biggest concern is whether the players and coaches were able to push the reset button and keep a clear mind and a full heart to finish this season strong.
GBH: Which LSU players should A&M keep an eye out for on defense?
ATVS: As frustrating as this season has been for the LSU defense, there are a few bright spots/building blocks for the future among the newbies. Freshmen cornerbacks Tre'davious White and Rashard Robinson have big-time potential. They've taken the lumps that you would expect out of guys that were playing high school ball last season (Robinson was also a late qualifier and missed all of training camp), but if they continue to develop they could become a heck of a duo.
Up front, sophomore linebacker Kwon Alexander has shown tremendous speed sideline-to-sideline and made a lot of plays in pursuit. And defensive end Danielle Hunter, though undersized, has the athletic ability to become a Sam Montgomery or Barkevious Mingo type eventually.
GBH: Which LSU players should A&M keep an eye out for on offense?
ATVS: Mettenberger, obviously is the big name, and he's been outstanding. His top two targets are Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Beckham is the deep threat -- a true speed guy and all-purpose dynamo as punt/kick returner. Landry is just a pure receiver. He gets open and catches the ball, especially on third down -- he leads the SEC and is second in the country in converting them for first downs.
The Beckham/Mike Evans duel should be a hell of a lot of fun.
In the backfield, Jeremy Hill has done a great job, averaging 6.8 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. He should get over 1,000 yards on the season in this game (he only needs 46), and LSU will need to keep him involved in order to keep up with the Aggies on the scoreboard.
GBH: What's your prediction for Saturday? Final score?
ATVS: I'm not one for predicting scores, and I just can't bring myself to call for an LSU loss. The team that punts will probably be the team that loses this one. It's going to be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Hill and the Tiger running game finds a way to hold the lead in the fourth quarter.