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Miles: Tigers looking forward to Auburn

BATON ROUGE, La. – The barometer of LSU’s football season, since the start of this decade, has been its game against Auburn.

The Tigers defeated Auburn four times in that stretch. And, during those four years, LSU has ended up representing the West in the Southeastern Conference title game.

LSU lost all three of its appearances this decade at Auburn and failed to reach the SEC championship in each of those years.

So this Saturday’s visit to Auburn has LSU coach Les Miles quite excited.

“It’s going to be fun,” Miles said Monday. “It just counts as one game, but we are looking forward to taking our team there” to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“I think the game will be awfully competitive. My expectation is that we’ll have to play our best game to date to win.”

LSU will be without one of its best defensive players — linebacker Darry Beckwith, who injured his left knee against North Texas. Beckwith is expected to miss about three or four weeks.

Jacob Cutrera will replace him in the starting lineup. Cutrera, a junior, made two starts a season ago when Beckwith was out with an injury.

“Jacob Cutrera is a veteran guy,” Miles said. “We have no real issue about Jacob being able to step in and communicate. He has earned the respect of the team. We will miss Darry until he gets back. There is no substitute for great experience.”

LSU will attempt to end its losing streak at Auburn with a pair of Tigers quarterbacks who have never played in a college football game on the road. Sophomore Andrew Hatch will start once again with redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee seeing action off the bench.

In LSU’s first two games, Hatch has thrown for 202 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Lee has comparable numbers, passing for 200 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

“I am pleased with the development of both quarterbacks,” Miles said. “They were not perfect against North Texas. But, the mistakes they made can be corrected. For the quarterbacks, efficiency is the whole issue.”

Miles does not believe that either quarterback will be shaken in his first road appearance.

“There has been a number of games every bit as important that these guys have played,” Miles said. “It may have been junior high school or high school. They can always equate some big game in the past with the style of environment they are going into.”

Miles feels his offense’s challenge will be to move the ball against an Auburn defense that has allowed just 13 points in three games and shut out Mississippi State’s offense in a 3-2 victory last Saturday.

“What has been Auburn’s strength is defense,” Miles said. “It is again. Auburn’s defense is very physical. They are fast to the ball. They have a quality scheme. We’ll need to be balanced on offense. Our football team is best when we can do both, run and pass.

“When we line up against that defense, that’s where our challenge is going to be. We’re going to have to match up our big guys up front with them. We’ll be tested very significantly.”