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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who is LSU?

BATON ROUGE – Through four games, the 2009 LSU Tigers are a mystery team.

Their fan base may be the most displeased in the history of the game as far as a No. 4-ranked, undefeated team is concerned.

Just 10 years ago at about this time, LSU was not ranked and 2-2 after 41-7 and 23-22 losses to Auburn and at Georgia losses on the heels of a 4-7 season in 1998. There would be six more straight losses and a firing and a new beginning.

Many programs would do anything to be 4-0 and ranked No. 4. Programs like Florida State and Notre Dame.

But even LSU coach has been very critical of his team. There are obvious problems, and he knows it. Should some of them not be solved this week, the Tigers will not be able to get by No. 18 Georgia (3-1, 2-0 SEC) in a 2:30 p.m. game Saturday in Athens, Ga.

The offensive line is the biggest area of concern. It’s getting pushed around. There are two new starters on the line – sophomores T-Bob Hebert and Josh Dworaczyk at center and left guard. They are learning and making mistakes, but they are very talented. The problem is LSU’s veteran offensive linemen are playing like freshmen at times as well. Fifth-year senior Ciron Black, who is projected as a high-round draft pick, has not played well the last two weeks. Fifth-year senior right guard Lyle Hitt has also played better.

In addition, it appears that LSU’s speed and offensive talent is not being used properly by offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. Miles has complained – like many fans and media – that Russell Shepard is not getting the ball enough. He was LSU’s leading rusher in the first half against Mississippi State and never touched the ball again.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson is not the problem. He has played very well. He needs more help from the talent around him. Junior wide receiver Terrance Toliver, for example, ruined a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Jefferson against Mississippi State on Saturday because Toliver didn’t know where his feet were. Toliver was running out of the end zone before he caught the pass. Crowton needs to get the plays to Jefferson quicker as well.

The defense is much better than last year, but every now and then it makes silly mistakes and allows key plays.

Still, LSU is much better off now than it was at this time a year ago. The Tigers were 4-0 on Sept. 29, 2008, and everyone was happy and still aglow from the 2007 national championship. Miles was still the greatest coach ever and better than Alabama coach Nick Saban, many believed.

The Tigers had pretty 41-13 and 41-3 victories over rent-a-win opponents early on. And LSU had found a new quarterback in Jarrett Lee, who brought his team back for a stunning, victory at No. 9 Auburn and threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-24 win against Mississippi State.

LSU was swimming in fool’s gold, though. Auburn ended up being a bad team and finished 5-7. State was bad, too, and finished 4-8.

Lee was also not very good. Florida and Georgia destroyed LSU’s defense and Lee made it worse with his interceptions over the next three weeks. LSU’s best effort of the season was not good enough to beat Alabama as four Lee interceptions and the coaches who decided to let Lee keep throwing killed the Tigers. Then Troy should’ve beaten LSU, and Ole Miss ripped LSU’s defense and offense in a 31-13 win.

LSU is 4-0 now with problems. It was 4-0 last year at this time seemingly without problems.

LSU has played this season like it could be an 8-4 team this season. It looked more like 10-2 at this time last season, but it finished 7-5 in the regular season.

Do not judge a season by its first four games.

LSU knows what it has to correct for the rest of the season, and the best thing about that is that it has not had the same problem in each game. Things have flared up, and things have been fixed. They will continue to be fixed.

Don’t let the early quarter of the season fool you like it did last season. This LSU team is better. It will finish the regular season 10-2.

LSU will beat Georgia and have a chance against Florida as Tim Tebow may not be himself after a concussion and flu issues.

If LSU does go to 6-0 with a win over No. 1 Florida and moves up to No. 1, do you really think people are going to be worried about Trindon Holliday and Russell Shepard not getting enough touches?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like the esteemed writer agrees with why LSU's fan base is so displeased, and even G.G. does not think LSU has played like a top 5 team, so far.

5:09 PM  

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