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May 29, 2011

A Look Back at LSU's Two 2010 Losses

I hate seeing LSU lose.  When LSU loses I am in a bad mood for the whole next week.  Fortunately for me and the people around me LSU only lost twice during 2010.  I may have watched the replay the following Sunday and Wednesday on the Cox Sports channel, odds are I didn't, but, now is the time to think back on and see what lessons we can learn from LSU's only two losses last year to Auburn and Arkansas.

As you may recall both the Auburn and Arkansas games were unique for different reasons.  Both losses were in away games for LSU against two very strong SEC teams.  Auburn had a ringer last year in Cameron Newton and they had a charmed season where all of the stars seemed to line up for the SEC's other Tigers.  The Arkansas game is always somewhat unusual because for one, LSU/Arkansas is one of those Thanksgiving time inner state/border state rivalry games where more often than usual the underdog prevails which is the only explanation that I have for Arkansas beating LSU more often than logical odds would suggest. The other two things that were unique about last year's Arkansas game were the fact that it was the last game of Ryan Mallett (arguably the best passing quarterback in college football last year) and because of injuries it was the first start of true freshman defensive back Eric Reid.  Reid was out of position on both of the long touchdown passes that must have been a thing of beauty for Hog fans (those passes nearly gave me a stroke) but, in Reid's defense he did have a beautiful interception that he returned for 31 yards.  Also it should be noted that the Arkansas game served as a "test by fire" game for Reid, by the Cotton Bowl Reid looked like a seasoned professional.  Enough about Reid, let's look at and talk about each of the two losses by the Bayou Bengals.

Auburn Tigers  24 - LSU Tigers 17  
Any team that makes it through the SEC without a loss is both good and lucky.  Auburn made it through all of last season without a single loss in or out of the SEC which makes them even luckier.  In the LSU/Auburn game at Auburn's Jordan-Hare stadium last year Cameron Newton might as well have jumped into a phone booth and come out in his superman tights and cape because he was faster than a speeding bullet and could not be stopped by a loaded freight train.  LSU's defense kept Newton's passing in check.  Newton threw for less that 100 yards while completing only 10 passes for 86yards.  But the truth is that Newton didn't have a need to pass because very uncharacteristically LSU's normally strong rushing defense gave up 440 yards rushing and Newton accounted for 217 of those rushing yards.

Jordan Jefferson did OK in this game.
Strangely enough the goat of LSU's offense last year, Jordan Jefferson looked pretty good in the game.  Jefferson did throw and interception but, even though the pass was a little high, it hit the receiver in the hands and was tipped to a defender that just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Jefferson was doing a really good job running the ball early on. In the game Jefferson was the lead rusher finishing with 74yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.  I can recall Jefferson being planted in the backfield a couple of times by Auburn DT Nick Fairley, at least one of those times was a lengthy "continuation" after the whistle.  I note the tackles for loss in the backfield because -  remember, in college loss of yards by quarterbacks on passing plays is subtracted from their rushing yards. Last year's leading rusher, Oregon's LaMichael James, only ran for 49yards against this Auburn defense. In fact, the whole Oregon rushing game in the national championship only accounted for 75 yards rushing.  I think a very close LSU/Auburn game would have been even closer if LSU had not abandon using Jefferson as a running threat.  Jefferson very well may have been shaken up by the several late or nearly late hits that he received throughout the first two quarters.

There were certainly positive memorable moments in this game for LSU Tiger fans.
One of the high points in that game for LSU fans was the halfback touchdown pass from true freshman Spencer Ware to true sophomore Rueben Randle.  Another high point for LSU fans was the punting game.  LSU was forced to punt six times in this game but punter Derek Helton average 53.2 yards a punt and five of LSU's six punts were downed inside the 20 yard line, a couple inside the 5 yard line.  The other thing for LSU fans to remember is that LSU was tied with Auburn until the last 5 or 6 minutes of the game.  I found an LSU/Auburn 2010 highlight video on YouTube that Tiger fans will want to see.  Auburn still wins and Auburn's big plays are on the film but, LSU fans have plenty to be proud of and plenty to give them hope for this year in these highlights.  Take a look.

Arkansas Razorbacks 31 - LSU Tigers 23
Prior to losing to Ohio State by 5 points in the Sugar Bowl, Arkansas only had two regular season losses: one to Auburn in a 65-43 blowout that and another two weeks prior to a then #1 ranked Alabama team in a much closer 20-24 loss.  In between those two games Arkansas had narrowly defeated a very good Texas A&M team by a score of 24-17.  By the time LSU and Arkansas met in the last game of the season Arkansas had recovered from the two losses and were determined to not lose three games in the 2010 season.  By the last game of the regular season LSU had still only lost one game but had no chance at playing for the national title or even the SEC championship because of the one previous loss to SEC West opponent Auburn and LSU was traveling North of the border to face a solid and determined foe.  To make matters worse because of injuries true freshman Eric Reid would have to play safety against one of the most prolific passing quarterbacks that had ever taken the field in a Hog uniform.  The difference in that game was two very long passes completed by Ryan Mallet to Cobi Hamilton. The first pass, was an 85 yard touchdown pass on 3rd down with 9 yards to go for a first down on the Arkansas 15 yard line with around 7minutes left in the first half.  The defenders in LSU's secondary were uncharacteristically out of position.  The second pass was a 1st and 10 from the Arkansas 20 yard line that went for 80 yards.  There were only three seconds left until halftime when that play began.  Many teams that have the ball on their own 20yard line with 3seconds kneel on the ball and go to the locker room.  Arkansas would go on to win that game 31 to 23 but, when the Hogs went ahead in the last three second of the first half, the game was decided. 

Some Highlights for the Tigers
Patrick Peterson had some nice return yardage.  I know some of you are saying "Peterson is now in the NFL and will not be returning for the Tigers this season." If you watch the returns in the video below you will notice that the very wide lanes made for Peterson to make those excellent returns.  We will definitely miss Patrick Peterson but, I could have driven my truck through some of those running lanes.  You will also notice Jordan Jefferson's highlight passes that point to what I hope to see Jefferson doing all year this year.  Also notice the great hard nosed LSU running.  The highlight rushes are by departing Stevan Ridley but LSU has two or three more hard nosed running backs that are eager to show that they can pound would be tacklers the same way that Ridley did consistently in 2010.  And there are three highlights for LSU's defense on the video- two interceptions, and a sack.  One of the interceptions is in the end zone by returning corner back Morris Claiborne and the other is by returning sophomore Eric Reid.  Arkansas QB, Ryan Mallet only gave up two or more interceptions in only one other of Arkansas' 13 games last year.  Alabama intercepted Mallett 3 times.  The sack is by Kendric Adams.  I think LSU fans will find hope in this LSU/Arkansas highlight film.  Take a look.

LSU only had two losses last year and only lost to SEC West opponents that included a single touchdown loss to BCS National Champion Auburn.  LSU was 15 points from the BCS National Championship game.

LSU can beat any team that suits up to play college football.  The Tigers need to remember how close they were to winning it all.  And while the Tigers need to build from the victories, they need to learn from the losses.  The wins and losses for 2010 are in the books.  Tiger nation is ready for the team to return from summer break and go to work.  It is time that we had two less losses in 2011.

1 comment:

Michael Lann said...

Good posts! Man you are really on a roll now. I liked what you did with the two losses we suffered thru last year. I haven’t watched the Auburn game since we played it but I think the score didn’t really reflect the actual game. I think Auburn controlled us for most of it. As far as Arkansas, I think we did a lot to help them win the game. I’m not one of those NegaTigers but when I look back on last year and our offensive performance, I just have to be really thankful for a season that finished with as many wins as we did.

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