Wisconsin football: LSU’s key players to watch

Despite being underdogs in Saturday’s game, the Badgers remain confident in their ability to get a win at Lambeau Field.

“They are a great offense,” starting safety Leo Musso said. “They’ve got great players everywhere. It’s just one of those things where it is still a football game and we’ve got to prepare the way we do for every other team. You just prepare and hopefully it’ll all come together on game day.”

“Of course we have a good schedule playing LSU,” starting inside linebacker Chris Orr said. “Great backs there, great team, but as long as we do what we do here, I think we’ll be fine.”

Here’s a look at the top LSU players to watch for in this Saturday’s game.

1. RB Leonard Fournette

Junior running back Leonard Fournette is without a doubt the most obvious threat for the Wisconsin defense this Saturday. In 2015, Fournette ran for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. Fournette is widely ranked as the top running back in the NCAAF and a Heisman favorite.

“He is a really talented football player,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said on Monday. “I think for good reason. He is talked about being one of the best in the country. It looks like he loves playing the game.”

Wisconsin’s high-ranked defense will have a difficult time stopping Fournette on Saturday, but the dynamic of the rushing defense is confident in their preparation for controlling LSU’s rushing offense.

2. QB Brandon Harris

Brandon Harris, a junior from Bossier City, La., had a shaky season in 2015, leading his team to a 9-3 record, however he struggled at completing passes. In 2015, Harris completed 149 of 277 passes for 53.7% completion rating and 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Harris also ran the ball 67 times for 226 yards and four touchdowns. Harris was fourth in the SEC for passing average per game and pass efficiency.

Andrew Lopez of NOLA.com reported that LSU head coach Les Miles believes Harris will be a more dynamic quarterback going into this season.

“I think his demeanor, his comfort, he’s taken snaps in a bunch of different situations,” Miles aid. “He’s a totally different quarterback than he’s been. He’s got great velocity on the ball. We tell him at times to throw a softer ball. He’s got accuracy and has the ability to throw. When he has to stick it in there, he can stick it in there.”

3. WRs Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural

The two wide receivers make for a great combination for Harris to throw to. Junior Malachi Dupre, from New Orleans, was LSU’s top receiver in 2015, catching 43 throws for 698 yards and six touchdowns. LSU Athletics describes Dupre as a “precise route runner with the ability to make the big catch, has tremendous leaping ability and a knack for finding the football in the air.”

Travin Dural, a senior from Breaux Bridge, La., is another threat on the LSU offense. In 2015, he caught 28 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns. Dural is regarded as one of the fastest players for LSU with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash.

4. SS Jamal Adams

Under the new leadership of former Wisconsin defensive coordinator, Dave Aranda, the LSU defense will be something to watch for as Houston and offense take the field on Saturday. While LSU’s defense was ranked much lower than Wisconsin’s in 2015, expect Dave Aranda to bring the same level of playing ability to LSU that he brought to Wisconsin.

Junior strong safety Jamal Adams will be someone to watch for on LSU’s defense. In 2015, Adams had 67 tackles and led the team in four interceptions and 10 passes broken up. LSU Athletics describes Adams as “one of the top defensive backs in college football heading into the 2016 season, tenacious defender with a knack for always being around the football, plays with a great deal of confidence, emotion and swagger.”

5. ILB Kendell Beckwith

Senior Kendell Beckwith will be a final person to watch on the LSU defense. The inside linebacker had a stellar 2015 season, where he was a semifinalist for both the Bednarik and Butkus awards. He finished second on the team in total tackles with 84, tackles for a loss with 10, and passes broken up with seven. Beckwith is expected to have a solid senior season before pursuing a career in the NFL. Watch for Beckwith and the “buck” or weak-side linebacker Arden Key in Saturday’s games to make some big plays against Wisconsin’s offense and take advantage of potential mistakes during Bart Houston’s first game at starting quarterback.

Photo courtesy of Bob Levey, Associated Press.

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