Published October 12, 2011 - 6:30am
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LSU Mid-Season Progress Report
Before the season started, I gave a LSU a punch list of items that would be necessary for the team to run the table. So far, they have gone above and beyond.
1. LSU must continue to run the ball with great success.
It was noted that the magic stat for LSU was to reach 150 yards per-game on the ground every game. So far, they have reached that milestone in every game and are 6-0. Last year, when the 150 wasn’t reached, the Tigers were 0-2.
2. Jordan Jefferson Jarrett Lee must utilize his most valuable asset…Experience.
That was written on 8/11, before the Shady’s fiasco. Jarrett Lee has been solid since taking over the starting role. He has kept the mistakes to a minimum and has been clutch when needed. Lee’s maturation at quarterback has been noticeable. His ability to read and pick apart defenses has helped the LSU passing game to come back to life. Although the numbers don’t jump off the page(1100 passing yards, 10TD, 1INT), they are all that is needed when a team runs the ball as well as LSU (1109 rushing yards, 17 TD).
3. Steve Kragthorpe must develop the quarterbacks.
We had this one circled and a note to check it at the end of September. Consider this one complete. Kragthorpe prepared Lee to be a starter against the #3 team and the nation and to go out and win. He did. It seems that Lee has exorcised all the demons and inconsistencies that haunted him through his first three years. The credit has to go to the tutelage of the new QB coach. As for Jefferson, he did look sharp in his limited action against Kentucky and Florida, but it is too soon to tell.
3b. If the ball touches a receiver’s hands, they need to catch it.
Apparently we were wrong when we said this was completed. The LSU receivers have had a few bad cases of the “drops” this season. This better be repaired before 11/5.
4. The defense needs to live up to the hype.
The Tiger defense has done everything to justify all the preseason praise. The youth and talent on the defense matured quickly and dominated right out of the gate. The secondary and d-line is being labeled as the best in the NCAA and is now led by Tyrann Mathieu, who is now a legitimate Heisman candidate. The speed and power of the Tiger defense has them at or near the top of several categories:
- Scoring Defense: 2nd in SEC
- Passes Intercepted: 4th in SEC
- Fumbles Recovered: 1st in SEC
- Turnovers Gained: 2nd in SEC
- Tackles for Loss: 1st in SEC
- Sacks: 2nd in SEC
- Turnover Margin: 1st in SEC
5. Special Teams must remain a little special… at least.
One of the biggest questions entering 2011 was whether or not LSU could replace the production of Josh Jasper and Patrick Peterson’s special teams production. Drew Alleman, Brad Wing and Morris Claiborne have answered with a resounding YES. Alleman has been almost automatic while Wing has help LSU win the field position battle in every game. Mo Claiborne has also done a fantastic job on kick returns, even returning one for a TD.
The Florida game…
First, as a fan, that was pure joy and I will make no apologies about how thoroughly I enjoyed watching LSU destroy the Gators. After being on the wrong end of many of those games in the series, this was very therapeutic. The icing on the cake was Jefferson’s jump pass for a TD. Ole Les has probably been holding on to that one for just the right occasion. Saturday was it and it was AWESOME.
Second, Chris Rainey, just shut up. If Florida was better than Bama and LSU, it wouldn’t have been blown out in both games. Simple. Case closed. If anything, those two games demonstrated how much of a divide there is between the current haves and have nots of the SEC. Both games also put a spotlight on a glaring deficiency in talent evaluation by the Gators staff. For all of the highly ranked recruiting classes, where were all those stars the past two weeks. Apparently, Chris Rainey knows where to find the hidden stash of Florida playmakers. I am sure Will Muschamp would like to know too.
The Florida game was also the first time the Demon Death Machines that LSU and Bama called defenses shared a common opponent. LSU gave up 11 points and 213 yards. Bama gave up 10 points and 222 yards. The debate goes on.
About that date with Bama on 11/5…
This could very well be the game of the century. The game will match the top two teams in the SEC West, the SEC and the NCAA. Many had the date circled as THE showdown of 2011. Now, as both teams move closer and closer to entering this game undefeated, many are calling this the first national championship of the season. This showdown has taken on epic status and the talking heads are already figuring out how to justify a rematch in the Superdome come January. These are the same people who bashed a Michigan TOSU rematch a few years ago and catapulted Florida into the big game.
The hype is valid. Both teams are dominating every opponent, ranked or not. Both are actually improving week to week. Both should enter the game undefeated. Most importantly, both should be fairly healthy and rested as each have a bye week prior to the game. The week off should make the defenses even meaner and nastier… much like holding back meals from a pack of wild animals for a week and then throwing them in a den with a stuck pig. Bad things are going to happen. The debate over the nation’s best defense will reach its zenith when LSU and Bama square off in a bare knuckle, back street brawl.
This game will be all about grit and toughness. Which team can break the other first with a punishing ground game? Which team will deliver the most knock-downs on defense? Who will impose their will the most? Les Miles or Nick Saban. November 5th can’t get here soon enough.
On a final note….
CBS, please leave LSU the hell alone. You have essentially voided one of the greatest traditions in all of college football: Night Games in Death Valley. Great job CBS…Maybe you can go kidnap that kid who dots the “I” for TOSU or white wash Touchdown Jesus while you’re at it. Thanks to you, this season, the only night games played in Baton Rouge will be Northwestern State and Western Kentucky. No big SEC showdowns this year. Your insistence on having LSU play in your precious 2:30 CST slot is chapping our collective Bayou Bengal posteriors.