ATLANTA (AP) -- LSU quarterback Matt Flynn has a tough assignment
in his first start -- attacking the vaunted Miami defense Friday
night in the Peach Bowl.
Flynn, filling in for the injured JaMarcus Russell, is preparing
for a unit that leads the nation in pass defense, ranks second in
scoring defense at 11.9 points per game and third in total defense.
No. 9 Miami (9-2), which beat Florida 27-10 in last year's Peach
Bowl, can be expected to pressure Flynn early in attempts to force
mistakes out of the sophomore from Tyler, Texas. But it's not all
about the pass rush.
"We still have to prepare the same for the scheme that they're
going to run," Miami cornerback Kelly Jennings said.
Flynn has appeared in 24 games as a backup but has thrown only
"What I'm going to be trying to do is put my team in the best
situation to win and not try to make every play myself," Flynn
Jimbo Fisher, offensive coordinator for 10th-ranked LSU,
believes Flynn is ready.
"He's worked very hard in practice and his knowledge of what we
do is tremendous," Fisher said. "I think Matt's ready for this
"Now, unfortunately we're playing one heck of a football team
to open up your first game. I don't think that's very easy."
Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon is not expecting LSU
to make dramatic changes with the new quarterback.
"You can't change what you do because you miss one player in
the game," he said. "The guy's taken reps in practice all year
long. They have things that he can do and he's been there, so
they're going to run their scheme.
"They may have little wrinkles here and there that we'll have
the adjust to in the first quarter, and then get the rhythm of what
LSU (10-2) will be making its second straight appearance in the
Georgia Dome. The Tigers lost 34-14 loss to Georgia in the
Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 3.
That loss dropped LSU from No. 3, a spot held by Miami before a
14-10 loss to Georgia Tech on Nov. 19.
The key to Georgia Tech's success against Miami was relentless
defensive pressure. The Yellow Jackets sacked Miami quarterback
Kyle Wright seven times.
LSU has the defensive talent to produce similar results. The
Tigers, led by defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten,
are No. 5 in total defense and No. 8 in scoring defense.
"LSU obviously has a great defense," Miami offensive
coordinator Dan Werner said. "Their D-line is as good or better
than anybody we've seen so far this year. They've got a blitzing
scheme that will cause a lot of problems."
The result could be a low-scoring game.
"It's got to be an NFL-type mentality," Miami coach Larry
Coker said. "This is probably not a nine yards to the right,
touchdown to the left, type game. I hope it is from our standpoint,
but we've got to have positive plays and don't turn the ball over
and realize sometimes a punt is not the worst thing that can
Miami's offense is at less than full strength with starting
receiver Ryan Moore suspended for the game by Coker. Lack of depth
at the position might be all the reason Coker needs to give
versatile threat Devin Hester, a starting cornerback and dangerous
return specialist, more time at receiver.
"Santa delivered a huge package under the tree and we may
expand his package a little bit," Coker said when asked about the
an expanded role for Hester.
Wright says Hester, who also has lined up at running back, can
affect a game "without even doing anything."
"When he lines up in the backfield, you hear the defense
changing the play," Wright said. "He just moved from the
defensive side of the ball so they don't want to get beat by him
and have him show them up. With that type of play-making ability,
he can take a little swing pass, or just having the ball in his
hands is electric."