Sunday, September 20, 2009

ULL Recap

After an uninspiring 31-3 win against ULL Saturday night, LSU still appears to have more questions than answers, especially on offense which now ranks dead last in the SEC.  LSU's fan base is spewing negativity and criticism, but those feelings originate from frustration.   Frustration from seeing All-SEC players at the skill positions and a capable quarterback but an offense that can't manage to move the football consistently.  While I refuse to participate in the mindless negative criticism that is sure to take place this week, I do share in the frustration. 

On a day when the offense should have finally had their way, they struggled and played their worst game of the season.  LSU came out and wanted to establish the run and throw the ball down the field more.  They were unable to do either with any consistency.  It was very disheartening that LSU could not get the running game going against a team like ULL.  The majority of runs between the tackles got stuffed for gains of five yards or less.  On a 4th and 1 play, LSU brought in their goalline personnel and basically said, "We're coming at you.  Try to stop it."  Well, ULL stopped it. 

The offensive line has struggled thus far this season and especially on Saturday.  As a group, they're simply not getting it done.  There's no other way to say it.  New starters T-Bob Hebert and Josh Dworacyk are still getting accustomed to playing at this level.  But returning senior starters Lyle Hitt and Ciron Black have played beneath expectations.  Hitt was adequate at best last year, but Black is supposed to be an All-American.  Yet I saw ULL, with a 3-man rush, get someone right around Black to apply pressure on Jordan Jefferson.  Maybe it's a lack of focus, but it didn't look real good Saturday.  Joseph Barksdale has been very solid and is LSU's best lineman right now. The line play is a major concern of mine as LSU heads into the teeth of their schedule. 

Jordan Jefferson did not have a real good night on Saturday either.  In fact, I thought it was probably his worst performance as a starter.  His numbers weren't terrible by any means.  He completed 16 of 25 passes with two touchdowns and one interception.   But he was not accurate and for the first time, his decision making was a bit off.   He again missed on a few passes to receivers who were open.  He also threw more than a couple passes that should have been intercepted.  Even some of his completions were not good ones.  On a couple of occasions, he threw behind his intended receiver on a swing pass, forcing him to spin around to make the catch.  This left them no chance to make a play after the reception. 

So if Jefferson was a bit more effective at completing passes down the field, would that bring defenders away from the line of scrimmage and make it easier for the offensive line to open holes in the running game?  Or does the offensive line need to run block better so that the offense will be more balanced and Jefferson can then have an easier time in the passing game?  It's a "chicken or the egg" argument, and the answer probably lies somewhere in between. 

The offense does show flashes of what we all expect.  LSU's outstanding receivers make plays.  Charles Scott occasionally bursts through a hole and drags defenders down the field.  We all see what the offense can be.  And that's what makes the inconsistency so frustrating. 

The defense looked strong for the second week in a row.  The Ragin Cajuns had less than 200 total yards going into the fourth quarter, and gained about 100 more yards against mostly backups in the final period.  ULL was able to move the ball at times, and it would have been nice to see some more pressure from the defensive line.  But holding a team to three points is a good defensive performance almost any way you look at it.  LSU's scoring defense is up to 3rd in the SEC.   And after watching Washington upset USC on Saturday, perhaps LSU's performance in the opener wasn't all that bad after all. 

So LSU is 3-0...something that teams like Oklahoma, USC, Virginia Tech, and Georgia cannot claim.  The Tigers are ranked #7 in the national polls and have a road game against Mississippi State to deal with before a monumental road contest at Georgia, a game that may very well dictate whether LSU has a special season or just an OK one.

Tomorrow, we'll go Around the SEC and I hope to touch on some recruiting notes this week as well. 
Thanks, as always, for your interest. 


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