Jordan Love and his Utah State offensive linemen welcome challenge of LSU’s defense

FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 file photo, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (10) looks to throw the ball against Boise State in the second of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. The high-flying offenses of Utah State and North Texas meet in the New Mexico Bowl in what is expected to be a passing attack shootout. Utah State is making its seventh college postseason appearance in eight years while North Texas tries to give head coach Seth Littrell his first bowl victory. (AP Photo/Steve Conner, File)

Logan • Saturday’s game against LSU brings plenty of challenges for the Utah State Aggies. The Tigers are No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, undefeated in four games and has the No. 1 offense in the country, averaging nearly 58 points per game.

But the Aggies have something else to contend with when they travel to Louisiana: the sheer size, strength and speed of a Southeastern Conference defensive line designed to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. And Aggies junior quarterback Jordan Love will be LSU’s main target.

“Jordan’s our best player and we’re going to put him, hopefully, in a position to do his job,” USU offensive line coach TJ Woods said. “We’ll have a plan protection-wise and things like that because … they’ve got tremendous pass rushers. They’ve got really good players.”

Defensive lineman in the SEC are typically some of the most physically imposing in all of college football. And while there are plenty of talented players around the Mountain West Conference, what the Aggies will face in the Tigers is, objectively, a different animal.

Love knows how talented LSU’s defensive line is. But he has confidence in those assigned to protect him.

“The way I approach it, I know the O-line is going to handle all the protection and stuff like that, so I’m not worried about anything like that,” Love said. “I guess the only thing would be getting in space and stuff.”

Love added that there are no plans from an offensive prospective to find ways to get him more time in the pocket or have him run the ball less. From his perspective, it’s business as usual, and he re-iterated the importance of the O-line’s need to protect him.

“We’ll keep the game plan the same — run and pass about the same amount,” Love said. “It’s all about protection. The O-line picking up those blitzes, just being able to protect against that D-line. I think they’re going to do a terrific job. They’ve been doing a good job all season.”

Woods said he is pleased with the progression of the young offensive line four games through the season. Aggies coach Gary Andersen agreed.

“For as youthful as they are and as young as they are, I think they grow every day,” Andersen said. “They’re working hard. They got high demands of themselves. They’re a young group that has had some success.”


When • Saturday, 10 a.m. MDT

TV • SEC Network

What’s lacking from the offensive line right now, though, is consistency, Woods said. There have been times they miss a snap or make a mistake with a run play in the red zone. Woods called them “a work in progress.”

“We’re beating ourselves a little bit at times up front,” Woods said. "Part of that is being young. Part of that is on me. I have to get them better. I have to teach them the urgency that they have to have and the consistency that they have to play with.”

Offensive linemen Karter and Ty Shaw, who are brothers from Herriman, look at the LSU game as an opportunity to show the college football world that the Aggies can rumble with any team.

“We want to prove how good our team actually is,” Ty Shaw said. “That even with these bigger schools that have all this hype, we can still hang with them and we can play against them to a pretty good extent.”

When speaking about the bigger defensive line of LSU, Ty Shaw said there are aspects of that matchup that are easier for the offensive line, and some that are more difficult.

“Them being bigger, they’re going to be a lot slower, so you don’t have to worry about the quickness as much,” Ty Shaw said. “But you’re also going to have to buckle down a lot more and be able to play underneath those bigger guys and brace down.”

Regardless of the opponent, Love said he is preparing for LSU as he would any other opponent. But he does acknowledge that due to USU’s recent history against Power 5 teams, getting a win over the Tigers would mean more.

“At the end of the day, it is a big game just because we’re going against Power 5 teams,” Love said. “But it’s still the same game. You do have to take it a little more because we haven’t beat a Power 5 team in I don’t know how long.”

Karter Shaw said the offensive line isn’t preparing any differently either.

“They’re just people,” Karter Shaw said of LSU’s defensive line. “So it’s really just watching tape, seeing what they do and playing like we would any other game.”

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