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November 24, 2010

LSU's Offense to the Rescue! LSU is 10-1!

Houston Nutt has had LSU's number the last three years.  He beat LSU in his last year coaching Arkansas and then beat LSU in his first two years as Ole Miss's head coach.  This year Nutt brought in one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the country and had a great offensive game plan for LSU that nearly worked.  What Nutt did not count on and what even many LSU fans were unwilling to count on was LSU's offense rising to the occasion.

It was nothing new that LSU found a way to win.  Despite have glaring weakness all year, LSU has almost always found a way to win.  Great teams find a way to win.  LSU has played 5 top ranked teams and is 10-1, so far with one more top ranked team left on the schedule.  The only LSU loss this year may very well be vacated, probably sometime after the season, if what the national media is reporting about Cameron Newton is true.  Even if that one loss stands, LSU has won 10 games and will have the opportunity to win 11 or even 12 games this year.  Seven of those potential victories will be over ranked teams, assuming LSU will play a ranked team in a bowl.  Not too shabby considering SEC sportswriters picked LSU to finish 4th in the 6 team SEC West.  That is not really as bad as it sounds considering 5 of the 6 teams have been bowl eligible for two weeks.

LSU's defense has carried the team to victory all year and so it is not surprising that Houston Nutt concentrated his game plan on the defense.  Even in LSU's 51-0 victory over 5-6 ULM, LSU had very little offense.  LSU's defense scored and provided short field position for the offense to score on the heels of five turn overs.  

After the first series against Ole Miss , LSU's defense appeared to be picking up where they had left off in the ULM game.  True freshman cornerback Tyrann Mathieu broke up a Jerimiah Masoli pass and sophomore defensive end  Lavar Edwards intercepted the ball and returned the ball to the 19 yard line.  Three plays later Stevan Ridley stepped into the end zone giving LSU a 7-0 lead.  It looked like Masoli, the former Oregon offensive standout, was going to have another disappointing performance in the SEC but as it turns out Masoli  had a pretty good game in a losing effort.  LSU's defense was only able to force one more turnover when Masoli was sacked about the eight yard line and fumbled to the twelve where Drake Nevis recover the ball.  Technically Masoli threw two interceptions but the second one was off of a Hail Mary last play of the game throw.  So I am not counting that one against him.  I think he may have never gotten used to being run down from behind during his several years of play in the PAC 10.  Both turnovers were converted into points for LSU.  I now think fair to say that Auburn's ringer quarterback, Cameron Newton, was a better gamble than Ole Miss's ringer quarterback.  Who knew? During preseason there was a lot more attention paid Ole Miss signing Masoli.  You may recall that Masoli was rated among the top ten quarterbacks in the country and Oregon was expected to have some drop off after kicking Masoli off of the team for repeatedly getting into trouble.  Oregon seems to have survived OK but Ole Miss may have done just as well or better with their plans prior to Masoli becoming available.  

One thing that does surprise me about the post analysis of the LSU-Ole Miss game is that there are national sports writers that expected LSU to blowout Ole Miss.  Those sports writers should consider at least three things.  

First, tradition - LSU and Ole Miss do not just have the traditional rivalry of being border states.  LSU and Ole Miss have been locked as traditional rivals since the late 1950s when LSU and Ole Miss were ranked #1 and #2  and played each other in some of the most memorable games in college football.  Sports writers unfamiliar with the rivalry might pick up a copy of the movie "Everybody's All American". Great football movie based on the life of Billy Canon.

Second, the players - Louisiana and Mississippi are border states that recruit in each others states.  It was barely mentioned in the CBS coverage of the game but Stevan Ridely, LSU's leading running back, is from Natchez Mississippi and Branden Bolden, Ole Miss's leading running back, is not only from Louisiana but from Baton Rouge Louisiana.  

Third, recent history - Ole Miss has beaten LSU the two years prior to this year.  Houston Nutt was the last coach to beat LSU's 2008 BCS National Championship team.  Nutt's Arkansas Razorback squad came into Tiger Stadium in the last game of the season in Tiger Stadium and beat the Tigers in triple overtime.  The Tiger  2008 National Championship team had only one other loss that season.  That game was also lost in triple overtime but not in Tiger Stadium.

This year's game against Nutt's Ole Miss Rebel Black Bear team was won because Gary Crowton finally decided that he would show some faith in Jordan Jefferson and allow him to drop back and throw on first down.  LSU's defense did not play their best game but forced turnovers by the defense accounted for 10 points. LSU ran the ball well and passed much better than they have all year.  I think the only person on the LSU side that has reason for disappointment is redshirt freshman running back, Mike Ford.  Ford had an outstanding 54 yard touchdown run that was wiped out when it was discovered during review that Ford was two toes out of bounds on a cut after the first 14 yards.  Ford is credited with a touchdown reception but the actual pass was the result of Ford getting two feet ahead of Jefferson on an option.  So Jefferson threw the ball about two feet and Ford ran the rest of the way.  I better Ford has already forgotten what disappointment he may have experienced in the Ole Miss game.  If he hasn't, he will have three more years at LSU to get over it.

Many of LSU's starters and stars are underclassmen.  They ought to have more opportunities for a National Title.  All world defender and return specialist, Patrick Peterson is just a junior and could come back for another shot.  The best running back in the SEC, Stevan Ridley is also a junior.  But standout players like Drake Nevis, Kelvin Shepard, Josh Jasper, Jai Eugene, Derek Helton, Terrence Toliver, Pep Levinston, Joseph Barksdale, and Daniel Graff have earned a shot at the BCS National Title and it would be ashame, if after beating many of the best teams in the country, these guys are denied the opportunity to prove that LSU is the best football team this year.                


Anonymous said...

Jefferson, has really come around..Did you see the touch,that he put on the pass completions, in the winning drives, against Ole Miss,beautiful plays...Really good passing..Jefferson is here to stay..He saved the LSU football season..Les Miles was right!!!

Texas Tiger said...

Yes he was! I always had faith that the talent of LSU would eventually shine ... and man has it! I am so happy for the team and JJ. JJ endured so much criticism, etc. and stayed strong. It speaks volumes for him and this team. As Les has said: "I love this team". These guys love each other and have their backs whether it takes offense or defense or both. I am looking forward to a great game Saturday. We may not make it to the Championship game, but a BCS berth will be a great step forward for this team.

LSU has a wealth of young players, and the future is extremely bright for our Tigers!

First things first ... let's beat Arkansas, and let the chips fall where they may after that. I have a feeling we will like where they fall.

Geaux Tigers!

Anonymous said...

The LSU tiger football fans, who stayed faithful to Les Miles, has a good reason to be proud also...Sometimes, things just work out the right way.

Anonymous said...

I agree..Jefferson is a SEC QB now,passing, and playing QB, with the best of them..LSU has a good chance now..Les Miles did that,he built a "team"..Everyone pulling in the right direction...Win,Lose,Or Draw,this LSU tiger "team" is just great.

Anonymous said...

Boise State loses to Nevada..Well,well,well,if LSU gets past Arkansas, they could be rated #-3 ...Waiting to see what happens in the SEC game,or the outcome of Oregon,last game, with Oregon State...Well,well,well.

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