LSU's defense has figured things out, and that just doesn't seem fair with how good this team is
Sometimes you look at a celebrity and it just seems like they have it all. The money, the lifestyle, the hair, the career, the everything.
But ya know, they do have that mole on their cheek. It’s something that’s been with them since birth. It’s not something that makes them unattractive, necessarily. It’s a flaw. It’s something that perhaps other people can see and say, “oh, they are human.”
Then they get the mole removed. And suddenly, you remember that they do in fact have it all and they might not actually be human.
That’s essentially the story of LSU and this highly-scrutinized, suddenly resurgent defense. This LSU team is now a cheat code. A program that looked like it had a mole, er, a flaw, now has it all. The historic offense AND the confident, lights out defense are both there.
It felt like that after watching the Tigers completely stymie Georgia en route to an SEC Championship beatdown.
Granted, some would argue that was just because LSU was standing next to someone who looked far less attractive. Out of shape, long-time chain smoker, balding but still rocking the combover, limp when they walk etc.
That’s what Georgia’s offense seemed like (especially the limp). The Dawgs were far from full strength. Lawrence Cager being out hurt, as did a banged up D’Andre Swift and a mid-game injury to Dominick Blaylock didn’t help. Jake Fromm had a bit of a limp, and just in case that wasn’t enough, George Pickens wasn’t available until the second half.
But don’t get it twisted. LSU’s defense wouldn’t have allowed for Georgia’s to look pretty even if it was healthy on Saturday.
Watching the way the Tigers flied to the football against Georgia AND Texas A&M was mole removal-stuff. It was certainly a far cry from what we saw against Ole Miss, when it looked like LSU was allergic to open field tackles. On Saturday, LSU was allergic to allowing huge, momentum-shifting plays from the Georgia offense.
Blown up runs in the backfield? Thanks, Rashard Lawrence. Deflections on Fromm swing passes? No problem, K’Lavon Chaisson. Interceptions in one-on-one situations? You got it, Derek Stingley.
Speaking of that, can we just take a moment and appreciate some greatness from an 18-year-old who picked off not 1, but 2 passes on Saturday?
“He’s not a future superstar – he’s a superstar.”
Derek Stingley is special. pic.twitter.com/1B9n8ZFn41
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 8, 2019
Did I mention that he’s 18 YEARS OLD.
Sorry. I just get excited thinking about the idea of watching Stingley play college football for the next 2 years.
I get excited thinking about what he can do against some of these elite receivers in the Playoff, all of whom will be tougher matchups than what he saw on Saturday. Stingley vs. Ceedee Lamb? Stingley vs. Tee Higgins? Sign me up.
Obviously it’s not just Stingley who deserves praise. How about a front 7 who looked like it couldn’t stop a lick a few weeks ago holding Georgia’s elite rushing attack to just 61 yards. Sure, game flow played a part in that. A team isn’t going to run a whole lot when it realizes it’s multiple scores behind this LSU offense. Take out the aforementioned banged up Swift and Georgia’s other 3 backs were held to 52 yards on 18 carries.
In other words, Georgia couldn’t quite get 3 yards and a cloud of dust. But a cloud of dust, there was.
So what triggered all of this? Was it as simple as Grant Delpit allowing his ankle to heal after his tough showing against Ole Miss?
It’s certainly possible. Delpit looked much more like his playmaking self the last couple weeks. He had an interception against A&M and he had a sack on Saturday. Certainly Dave Aranda doesn’t mind when the preseason All-American looks like himself.
And is there something to be said for LSU figuring things out after the midseason departure of Michael Divinity? Possibly. Guys like Chaisson and Patrick Queen both got after Fromm a week after they did the same thing to Kellen Mond.
You look at every level of this defense, and suddenly, it’s somewhat difficult to find a weakness. To be clear, we’ve been looking at this LSU team for weaknesses. That’s what happens when you look like you’re elite. We search for the mole and say “yeah, but.”
That’s what it felt like the selection committee did with LSU on a weekly basis. At least as it relates to Ohio State. Calling Ohio State a “complete team” was fair at the time. Winning Power 5 games by an average of 5 touchdowns and having the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense and No. 1 scoring defense is super noteworthy, especially if you’re comparing it to allowing a billion rushing yards to Ole Miss on a given night.
The selection committee challenged LSU to remove the mole. Like, don’t just go out there and cover it up with makeup. Make the appointment at the doctors office, schedule the surgery and get it done.
LSU’s defense got the surgery. Maybe it was just hearing the fixation on said mole that prompted the turnaround. Whatever it was, it worked. It shows. LSU now looks more flawless/unbeatable than ever.
The Playoff isn’t a beauty contest. It’s a 4-team tournament that rewards the team who proves to be complete. There would’ve been plenty of questions about the Tigers heading into this 3-week break had they not made those defensive adjustments.
Clearly, they have. LSU might not be human after all.