Now That You've Seen the Product, Are You Buying the LSU Tigers?
Sunday, September 6 - From the Bleacher Report:
The preseason take on the Tigers from LSU had been mixed. Preseason predictions had them anywhere from total collapse to total domination with most of the mainstream experts landing somewhere in between.
The AP’s Top 25 Poll had the Tigers in at no.11 with three other SEC schools ranked higher, included division rivals Mississippi and Alabama.
The knock on the head coach Les Miles’ Bayou Bengals-who finished 2008 with a disappointing 8-5 (3-5 SEC) record-is the same thing(s) that plagued them last year.
Questions abounded at quarterback and with a talented-but more often than not-disoriented and porous defense.
With true sophomore Jordan Jefferson establishing himself as the starter late last year-while earning MVP honors in the Chick-fil-a Bowl-and key defensive coaching changes, including the hiring of long-time Tennessee defensive coordinator, ‘the Chief’ John Chavis-many Tiger fans believe Miles has addressed the pressing issues and are hoping for a more competitive 2009 campaign.
What we learned from Game One versus Washington:
Jordan Jefferson is a playmaker and Tiger fans can expect much better results from the quarterback position this year if the true sophomore stays healthy.
Jefferson completed 11 of 19 pass attempts for 172 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 42 yards including some critical first downs.
Additionally, he has a full arsenal of dangerous weapons, which includes junior wide receiver Terrance Tolliver, who had a personal coming-out party receiving four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Overall the offense looked to be very good, though offensive coordinator Gary Crowton kept the play calling fairly simple and left plenty of bullets in his gun.
He did not use highly touted freshmen Russell Shepard, Ruben Randall, Michael Ford and others. Additionally, Richard Murphy and Trindon Holliday saw limited action but did contribute to the 31 to 23 victory over the Washington Huskies.
On the other hand, the defense left many questions unanswered.
The individual play of Jacob Cutrera, Patrick Peterson and other defenders, particularly in the secondary was outstanding.
None the less, junior quarterback Jake Locker was able to lead the Huskies to over 477 yards of total offense including 321 passing yards that came mostly from dicing up LSU’s front seven while connecting on 25 of 45 pass attempts.
Moreover, Locker and Freshmen Chris Polk at times were able to run at will against the Tiger’s defensive front racking up 51 and 90 yards on the ground, respectively.
New defensive coordinator, John Chavis, made half-time adjustments and the Tigers did seem to be more in control in the second half-despite a couple of late scores in the fourth quarter that made the game look closer than it was.
Yet the Tigers can’t be too happy with the overall effort of a defense that at times looked all too familiar to fans with visions of 2008 still fresh in their minds.
As time ticked away in the third quarter it was hard not to think the defense was running out of gas.
Traveling 2500 miles and two zones away to play might have had something to do with that but it also may have been the inability to stop Jake Loker and the Husky offense from moving the ball.
Time of possession favored Washington 36:52 to 23:08 and the Huskies ran a whooping 35 more plays from scrimmage than did the Tigers.
Coach Miles may have summed up the defensive performance "There were opportunities to take advantage of our opponent, and we didn't attack them the way we should have."
Indeed, the Tigers have all of the pieces and are as talented as any team in the country but there is work to do.
There is a lot of football to play and the problems seem to be repairable but now that we’ve seen the product on the field, I’m buying LSU as a contender in the SEC West but until we see more I’ll put the purchase on lay away.
By Henry Ball (Southern Man) Syndicated Writer and Bleacher Report Scribe
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