LSU Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the Chick-Fil-a Bowl

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  DeAndre Hopkins #6 of the Clemson Tigers pulls in a touchdown reception against Eric Reid #1 of the LSU Tigers during the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The LSU Tigers entered Monday night's Chick-fil-A Bowl as a heavy favorite.

However, this game showed that odds don't mean much as Clemson upset LSU 25-24 in what was truly a wild college football bowl game.

Clemson's Tajh Boyd passed for 346 yards and two touchdowns, and Chandler Catanzaro kicked a game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Tigers the win.

Let's go ahead and break this game down as we hand out grades to all 22 LSU starters in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Quarterback: Zack Mettenberger

Mettenberger was riding a hot streak heading into this matchup against Clemson, but that streak came to a real halt in this one.

The Tigers' junior quarterback completed 14 of 23 passes for a measly 120 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Most importantly, Mettenberger overthrew a wide open receiver in the final minuets of the game, which would have iced the game for LSU.

This kid is talented, but he still has a long way to go.

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Grade: C-

Running Back: Jeremy Hill

This was one of the lone bright spots on offense for this LSU team in this game.

Hill rushed for a game-high 124 yards on just 10 carries, an average of more than 10 yards per carry. The talented freshman back also added two touchdowns, one of which came on a monster 57 yard run to open the third quarter.

This kid is a stud in the making, and he showed you why on Monday night.

Grade: A

Fullback: J.C. Copeland

Copeland was a non-factor in this game for LSU.

Used mostly as a blocker, he helped pave the way for a solid running game, which earned him some points, but didn't do anything on the offensive end as far as rushing or receiving.

Grade: C

Wide Receiver: Odell Beckham Jr.

LSU's top wide receiver had a couple nice catches, but you would like to see your best wideout tally more than three grabs, especially in a game like this.

Beckham Jr. finished with three catches for 40 yards, his biggest a 26 yard gain.

This is a guy who has big play ability, and it would have been nice to see him break a big play in the biggest game of the season.

Grade: C+

Wide Receiver: Jarvis Landry

Landry really came into his own during the second half of the season, and he put together a solid game again in this one.

The talented sophomore receiver hauled in four catches for 37 yards, which is pretty average, but one of them went for a big touchdown to start off the second quarter.

Landry has good size, speed and hands, so this is a solid game for his standards, but certainly not his best.

Grade: B-

Tight End: Chase Clement

Chase Clement had a catch in this game?

Say what!

Yes, after recording just four catches this entire season, the Tigers' starting tight end did haul in one catch for seven yards in this game.

I know, I made way to big of a deal of this, right?

That's right.

Grade: C-

Offensive Tackle: Josh Dworaczyk

Dworaczyk's job is to protect the quarterback, and Mettenberger seemed rushed all night in this game.

It was puzzling to many as to why this offensive line played so poor in this game, and the offensive tackle has to receive some of the blame for that.

Allowing six sacks is simply unacceptable.

Grade: D

Offensive Guard: La'el Collins

Collins did a nice job in the run game, opening several holes for Jeremy Hill.

But again, like his teammates, the passing game was another story.

Grade: C

Center: PJ Lonergan

Lonergan helped pave the run game, as Hill had several nice runs up the middle, which you can credit Lonergan for opening some of the holes.

But for as many holes as he opened up the middle for the running game, at least that much pressure came in on the pass rush.

Grade: C

Offensive Guard; Trai Turner

Turner is another guy who took over a starting spot because of injury and ran with it.

But again, like his teammates, he was solid in the run game, and poor in pass protection.

Grade: C-

Offensive Tackle: Vadal Alexander

This kid is as talented as they come when it comes to freshman offensive linemen in college football.

But simply said, this wasn't Alexander's night.

The Clemson ends and outside backers created pressure all night, and plenty of that came on Alexander's side.

Grade: C-

Defensive End: Sam Montgomery

If anyone was doubting Sam Montgomery's hype heading into this season, that certainly shouldn't be the case after his showing in this game.

LSU's talented defensive end was all over the field in this game, forcing fumbles, sacking the quarterback, and wrecking all kinds of havoc in the backfield.

This kid is a stud, and he played like it in this game.

Grade: A

Defensive Tackle: Bennie Logan

Logan was solid as well in this game.

In addition to blocking a key extra point, which should have made the difference in this game had LSU managed the clock correctly down the stretch, Logan was a force on this defensive line.

He helped contain Clemson's run game, which was huge considering the numbers Boyd and Andre Ellington had put up heading into this contest.

Grade: B+

Defensive Tackle: Josh Downs

As mentioned earlier, this Clemson offense was lead by an elite receiving game and a dominant rushing attack.

Downs and this interior defense did their part in making sure Clemson's running game was held in check throughout this contest.

Andre Ellington rushed for just 50 yards on 11 yards, and much of that can be credited to the play of Downs.

Grade: B

Defensive End: Barkevious Mingo

Mingo is as talented as they get, but he was a little hobbled in this game after a monster hit on Clemson star wide receiver Sammy Watkins early on in this game.

All-in-all, Mingo recorded five tackles and a sack in the game, which isn't his best work, but not too bad, considering everything.

Grade: B

Linebacker: Kevin Minter

Minter is as good as they come when it comes to college linebackers.

The Tigers' top linebacker recorded a game-high 19 tackles, which is beyond impressive in its own right.

He also added a sack and was all over the field for this talented LSU defense.

Fortunately, the Tigers will have another year with this kid manning the middle of their defense.

Grade: A

Linebacker: Kwon Alexander

This freshman was one of the most talented young players on this LSU roster, but he was lost to injury midway through the regular season.

Fortunately, the Tigers got their freshman stud back for this game, but he didn't exactly stuff the stat sheet.

Alexander recorded just one tackle in this contest, so it's tough to grade him.

Grade: C

Linebacker: Lamin Barrow

Barrow has been fantastic all year for this LSU football team and he was great again on Monday.

Barrow recorded 12 tackles from his outside linebacker position, nine of which were solo efforts.

Much of the reason for Tajh Boyd being held in check on the ground in this game was because of Barrow on the outside.

Give him some credit where credit is due.

Grade: A

Cornerback: Tharold Simon

Simon had a tough task in this game going up against DeAndre Hopkins.

While Hopkins' numbers jumped off the roof, that isn't all Simon's fault.

In many occasions, Simon was left in one-on-one coverage with Hopkins, and he held his own in several of those situations.

Still, it's tough to give a guy high praise when his man hauled in 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Grade: C-

Cornerback: Jalen Mills

Mills was solid in this game, but there were several occasions where it seemed like he was just giving far too much cushion to his man.

Mills is still a freshman, so he has plenty of time to learn and will likely be an all-conference player when his LSU playing career comes to an end.

But for now, this kid still has some improving to do.

He was good, but not great.

Grade: C+

Safety: Eric Reid

Eric Reid is as good as it gets when talking about the safety position in college football today.

He was good in this game, but like Mills, this wasn't his best game.

Non-the-less, Reid recorded 10 tackles and laid several big hits in this game.

But the image of Hopkins scoring his final touchdown in the game was on play where he burned Reid in deep coverage.

Grade: B

Safety: Craig Loston

Loston was another guy who put up descent numbers in this one, recording seven total tackles, but he didn't make any big plays, especially when the Tigers needed them.

Whenever an opposing quarterback passes for 346 yards, the secondary has to receive some of the blame, right?

Grade: B- 

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