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Brian Kelly Talks Containing Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker, LSU's Defensive Scheme

Tigers face a difficult challenge against Heisman candidate Hendon Hooker, communication of the utmost importance this week.
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Brian Kelly understands the task at hand when No. 8 Tennessee comes to Death Valley this weekend. The fastest offense in the country is sure to bring some challenges to this LSU defense, but trusting defensive coordinator Matt House is what he’s done all season and he won’t stop now.

House’s game plans have been nothing short of spectacular through the Tigers’ first two SEC games, but the Volunteers provide a different style of offense. Kelly harped on House’s intelligence and what he’s brought to this team thus far, trusting what he’s putting together for this weekend.

“I think Matt’s done a great job. He’s an experienced defensive coordinator in the SEC, first of all,” Kelly said. “He did a great job with Coach (Mark) Stoops at Kentucky, was outstanding in his stops at Pittsburgh and North Carolina State.”

“This is an experienced defensive coordinator who knows how to get the guys in position. Communicates very well… Matt’s, I think, experience being in the SEC, understanding the offenses — I don’t think there’s an offense that he hasn’t seen before. He’s got a pretty good system, a system of defense (that) is such that it is set up to be flexible against all the offenses that we do run across in the SEC.”

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LSU understands the task at hand with Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker. The Heisman candidate has lit it up through the first few weeks of the season and this LSU defense must be on their A-game in order to slow him down.

But Kelly has faced Hooker before. He has an idea of what must be done to contain him. Putting together both Kelly and House’s game plans is a recipe for success and this program will be more than prepared for what Hooker brings to the table.

“I’ve gone against Hendon Hooker, so I know about him (from) when he was at Virginia Tech,” Kelly said. “He’s much more mature as a quarterback, and in particular in the passing game… He can hurt you running the football because of his athletic ability and his size, and he’s got a great arm.”

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“If he was just a running quarterback, there’s a lot of those guys. It’s his accuracy in the deep ball that makes him that double threat.”

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Winning one-on-one matchups will be of the utmost importance for this LSU defense come Saturday morning against the Volunteers. This unit attains a number of gifted athletes, and while the Tigers haven’t faced an offense like this, Tennessee also hasn’t faced a defense like LSU’s

Kelly detailed that communication has been the No. 1 priority in practice this week. Having his players be vocal and being prepared for the spread offense this team runs.

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“So a lot of this comes down to winning one-on-one matchups,” Kelly said. "So being fundamentally sound, tackling, playing the ball in the air, defeating one-on-one blocks. People talk about this being a spread offense and it being one of these kinds of newer offenses, but it really breaks this game down to winning one-on-one matchups to probably the most purest sense. That’s what we’ll have to do defensively. We’re going to have to win a lot of one-on-one matchups.”

Defensive coordinator Matt House has put this defense in position to be successful through the Tigers’ first few games, but Saturday night brings a different task. 

Look for the Tigers’ defensive line to come out with something to prove against Tennessee. The importance of containing Hooker will be the top priority, and if done, will put LSU in great position to come out on top against this squad.