Sunday, October 4, 2009

Getting Things Done In Athens

LSU played their best game of the season on Saturday, and they did it in a hostile environment when it was needed most.  The Tigers took control of the game in the first half with a dominating defense and an offense that was finally able to run the ball.  Despite several drives deep into Georgia territory, LSU was unable put the ball into the endzone.  Instead, the Tigers settled for field goals and only led at the half 6-0.  After holding the Dawgs to under 50 total yards and no points, LSU went to the locker room feeling like they missed some great opportunities. 

Those missed opportunities would come back to haunt the Tigers as Georgia came out firing in the second half on defense.  With LSU unable to move the ball, Georgia's offense eventually broke through and scored a touchdown to take the lead in the fourth quarter.  That's when the game got crazy.  The Tigers eventually scored a late touchdown to take the lead back.  Georgia answered with a touchdown that would seemingly be the game winner.  But a great kickoff return by Trindon Holliday gave LSU great field position.  Trying to set up for a game winning field goal, Charles Scott took matters into his own hands and scored a touchdown where he refused to be tackled.  Perry Riley then sealed the game with an interception. 

LSU showed me a lot in this game.  I believe LSU's defense is only going to improve.  They really played outstanding on Saturday, especially for the first three quarters.  LSU's defense really makes the opponent work in order to move the football.  Georgia's first touchdown drive required 18 plays to move 60 yards for the score.  That's giving up just over 3 yards a play, which is quite good.  The Tigers just couldn't get the stop on third down to get off the field.  On Georgia's second touchdown drive, the bulk of the yards came because of a mix-up in coverage.  Though you don't like to see that at critical points in the game, those things are happening far less than they did a year ago.  The defense was also aided by LSU's offense, which sustained drives and gave the defense some more rest in between series.  LSU is now fourth in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing less than under 15 points per game.  

I was quite pleased to eat my own words regarding LSU's power running game.  LSU was finally able to move the ball by running between the tackles.  I hope it's a sign of things to come because I doubt Les Miles will abandon that offensive philosophy.  I called for LSU's walk-on fullbacks to take a seat, but James Stampley played extremely well on Saturday.  The Tiger running backs averaged 4.89 yards per carry, a huge improvement over what we've seen prior to Saturday. 

Jordan Jefferson continues to mature.  Yes, he made some mistakes on Saturday.  His interception on LSU's first drive was maddening.  He needs improvement running the option.  He also held onto the ball entirely too long, resulting in some sacks that killed drives.  However, he took those sacks rather than throwing the ball into coverage.  And on LSU's first touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter, Jefferson was very poised.  The drive was 13 plays and 88 yards.  It ended with less than three minutes remaining on the clock...on the a hostile environment...while trailing.  He made some big throws and had the good sense to take off and get a huge run deep into Georgia territory. 

Helping Jefferson on that final drive was freshman Reuben Randle who came up with a couple of huge catches, including one on third and ten.  He really stepped up, and I think we'll see him more and more involved in the offense moving forward. 

I'd like to see better pass rush from the defensive line. That would certainly help the Tigers get off the field on third down. LSU has not had a sack in their last three games.  That is alarming and something that needs to improve. 

It was a big, big win for LSU and it sets up an enormous showdown with the #1 Florida Gators.  ESPN College Gameday will be in town.  LSU will have plenty of high profile recruits in attendance (more on that later this week).  The atmosphere will be absolutely electric. 


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