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LSU – ULM: A Viewer’s Guide to the Sunday Replay

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Don’t worry Mike. You didn’t miss much.

 

Very odd game. It’s hard to call a 51-point shutout underwhelming, but that was kind of the case for LSU-ULM. And that wasn’t really a surprise, to be honest. I expected the emotional letdown, and I was skeptical of one great game suddenly reversing a season-plus of offensive struggles. The silver-lining to that is that we’ve seen the Tigers play detached football before and still not win by this much, against even worse competition. On to the observations:

  • Surely people were expecting the play-calling to be that vanilla, right? Establish the run, keep the passing game rudimentary and see if you can generate some points? The passing game, unfortunately, was pretty nonchalant, even against some pretty slow DB’s for the Warhawks. It wasn’t surprising by any stretch, but it sure would have been encouraging to see the quarterbacks and receivers execute with some urgency. The play was bad, but it felt more like both quarterbacks were just going through the motions.
  • I did, however, really enjoy seeing the offense get some of the youngsters involved. Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, James Wright, etc. The reps didn’t show up in the form of great stats, but just getting the snaps has value for those guys. Both for the final three games (counting the bowl), and for next year.
  • Obviously, every point on this list should include the caveat of poor competition, but kudos to Greg Shaw for another strong game at right tackle. The prospect of him seeing extended playing time was a scary one as of last spring, but he’s acquitting himself very well.
  • Defensively, I think the most impressive part of the team’s play was that I didn’t see a ton of intensity. Just a business-like approach. But to pitch a shutout, force five turnovers and score two touchdowns with that sort of mentality is pretty damn impressive.
  • Defensive end play was outstanding in this game, with both Lavar Edwards and Chancey Aghayere doing a great job of holding the defensive edge when needed, and crashing down the line inside against the interior run. Outside linebackers Ryan Baker and Lamin Barrow were excellent as well at keeping some of the wide runs contained. Baker really is playing at an all-conference level.
  • Ron Brooks‘ excellent play as a blitzing dime back paid off in a different way on his pick-six. Quarterbacks are so used to seeing him attack that Kolton Browning fired a pass right at him, thinking he’d be rushing up field. Easy play. And great to see it from Brooks, a formerly very well-regarded recruit who hasn’t been a star, but has been an excellent backup and role-player.
  • When the opposing team’s quarterback takes a shot down the field and your immediate reaction is “Oh…well that wasn’t a very smart decision,” before the ball is anywhere near the receiver or the corner, that’s how you know you have an elite cover man. Kneel. Before. Zod.
  • At some point in meetings last week, somebody on the ULM coaching staff said “I don’t care how badly we get beat, or how short we have to kick it. We are not punting the ball to Patrick Peterson. Ever.”
  • More on the young players theme, great job by T-Rex Mathieu, Eric Reid and Craig Loston, who all played a role in containing the ULM spread running attack. Browning came into this game averaging 260 yards of offense per outing and got just 71.
  • I don’t know how much actual coaching Joe Robinson does of LSU’s kickers, but whatever he does works. In the last four years he’s developed two of the best in LSU history in Colt David and Josh Jasper. And for that, he deserves some praise.


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LSU – Alabama: A Viewers Guide to the HELLLLZ YEEEAHHH!!!

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You know, the best thing I can think to say about that game is that it was damn satisfying. On to the good stuff…

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Lesticles. I has it.

  • For starters, allow me to lead us all in a salute of Jordan Jefferson, who played his best game in a Tiger uniform. He wasn’t always as decisive as he could have been, but he was when he had to be. The throw on Rueben Randle’s 75-yard TD was a laser that was just out in front of the receiver, and Randle snatched it in stride. The two-point conversion in the fourth quarter was also a strike. It was great to see Randle shrug off that early drop.
  • This game was almost the reverse of the Florida game in terms of showing why LSU has to use two quarterbacks. Jarrett Lee threw one of the three or four worst passes of the season (and this season’s had a lot of bad passes) on the first-half interception (yeah, Bama dropped it, but for all intents and purposes, it was an interception). But to his credit, he came back in and made a strong play on the last third-down pass, stepping up through pressure and finding Randle for the big play. In the end, as good as one played, LSU ultimately needed both. I expect that to continue to be the case the rest of this season.
  • I loved the idea of the first-series play calling, even if the execution wasn’t there. Bama had been vulnerable to outside runs, and it established just what LSU needed to do on the day. The halfback pass maybe should have come from Spencer Ware, but the thought was probably that playing him at that spot would be too obvious. The hurry-up was an excellent wrinkle as well, especially with a defense that requires as many checks as Alabama’s. It was good seeing Russell Shepard involved in the run game as well – and that’s something that should continue to happen.
  • Kudos to Josh Williford and Greg Shaw for doing great jobs as fill-ins for T-Bob Hebert and the injured Alex Hurst. Shaw coming in was a surprise – I would have guessed Chris Faulk would have been the next tackle off the bench – but he did an excellent job against Bama’s defensive left side. The type of commitment to the run LSU had on Saturday was just what we’ve been calling for here. It didn’t spring anything early, but it paid off in the fourth quarter.
  • Les. Fucking. Miles. I can think of two other tight-end reverses (a message to all television announcers, it’s only a reverse if there are two handoffs) that I’ve ever seen before. Both were in the NFL and one was, coincidentally, run by the Saints earlier this year with athletic rookie Jimmy Graham. It was a perfectly called trick play, given this offense’s tendencies and Bama had no idea what was going on. Having a converted receiver like DeAngelo Peterson to run it helps too. People will say it’s a crazy play call because it was unorthodox, but I’d call it a well-calculated gamble.
  • I believe William Vlachos can pick up his manhood at the LSU Football Operations Center whenever Drake Nevis decides to let him have it back. The Cookie Monster was encamped in the offensive backfield, and when he wasn’t it usually took two men and a hand a hand in his facemask.
  • Mark Ingram finished with a respectable 92 yards, but it felt like he was still somewhat contained. Bama never seemed committed to really pounding him or Trent Richardson (though Richardson was obviously hurt), especially if the first-down run didn’t get more than six yards. And honestly, running those two, regardless of how Greg McElroy plays, remains the best part of the Bama attack. Every time McElroy dropped back to pass, I breathed a small sigh of relief.
  • General Zod won the war, but Julio Jones won the battle. I can’t be sure of how accurately I scored things, but I had it at 4-2 for Jones over Peterson, including a huge touchdown. Peterson struggled with the jam a few times, and I think it may have affected his concentration on punt returns, where he looked pensive at times.
  • I thought Bama looked a little flat from an intensity standpoint. That isn’t to say the effort level was lacking, just the defense looked like it was checked-out mentally. When your head coach and defensive coordinator spend most of the game on the field shouting and you still have coverage busts, clearly some players aren’t listening.
  • On a personal note, to the two assholes gentlemen guys sitting next to me in section 213, if a football game is such a miserable experience for you, save all of us the trouble and skip the next couple. These two spent most of the game complaining about every step Jefferson made, screaming for more passes (when I pointed out Lee’s interception was the reason he wasn’t playing more, I was told to shut the fuck up) and generally acting like miserable pricks.


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