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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gary Danielson on LSU

If you thought LSU's defense has been great and the offense -- particuarly at quarterback -- was not so great, then you are not alone.

CBS' Gary Danielson was talking LSU football today. His network carries the LSU-Tennessee game on Saturday.

Here is what Danielson had to say about the Tigers.

"I see the best defense I've seen there in three or four years. They've really got it going. They have athletes all over the field. They run extremely. They will match up with anybody defensively in the country. They will give Florida all they can handle. They will match up against Alabama. They are a dominating defense, as good as their national championship teams. If they get any kind of quarterback play, and I've been saying this for two years ...they need just a little bit. If they had a manager of their offense similar to (Alabama's) Greg McElroy, he doesn't have to be that good, just similar, this would be a national championship-contending team.''

Sunday, September 26, 2010

West Virginia thoughts

Some observations on Saturday's game.

1) I've never been a huge Jordan Jefferson fan -- he wasn't highly recruited for a reason. But his play the last three weeks is even worse than I imagined. And no, I don't think Jarrett Lee is the answer.

2) How bad must Russell Shepard be at quarterback not to be able to beat these two jokers out?

3) It's hard for me to get on wide receivers too bad for drops when you never know where the ball is going to be?

4) Why does anyone ever kick a football to Patrick Peterson?

5) Barkevious Mingo is a talented player, but he had a couple of really dumb penalties.

6) LSU is undefeated right now and I'm sure the folks at Texas would like to say the same thing.

7) A run the ball, play defense and excel in special teams recipe could get the Tigers to 10 wins this season. Yes, LSU has to play at Auburn but Auburn has been shaky at times this season.

Friday, September 24, 2010

West Virginia should remember Va. Tech

BATON ROUGE – Tiger Stadium is not a great place for a young quarterback just starting his career.

Such is the situation for West Virginia sophomore quarterback Geno Smith, who will start the second road game of his career tonight against No. 12 LSU in front of 92,400 fans. His previous start was at Marshall, which plays in a 38,016-capacity stadium named for a woman – Joan C. Edwards. If Tiger Stadium was named for a woman it would be Ma Barker. Just ask Tommy Tuberville.

“Marshall was pretty loud,” Smith said. “We played at Auburn last season, and it was pretty loud there. But I’ve heard that LSU can be really loud, too, and LSU has one of the better defenses in the country.”

The defense that Smith will scan shortly after 8 o’clock tonight on ESPN2 is sixth in the nation in quarterback sacks with 11 for 99 yards. Among the LSU players with sacks are guys like defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who has two, and end Barkevious Mingo, who has one, who are as fast are faster than Smith and some of his receivers and tailbacks.

Smith, a Miami native, is off to a good start. He is No. 21 in the nation in passing efficiency with a 157.72 rating on 71 completions in 101 attempts for 800 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception.

But the last time a first-year starter who played for a school from the state of Virginia came to Tiger Stadium, it was not pretty. Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod “T-Mobile” Taylor played his first college game at LSU on the night of Sept. 8, 2007, on ESPN, and it was nothing to text home about. He completed 7 of 18 for 62 yards and was sacked twice as the No. 9 Hokies lost 48-7 to the No. 2 Tigers.
Veteran Sean Glennon also played quarterback for Tech that night, and he managed 2-of-10 passing for 16 yards with an interception. If someone did not believe LSU was a national power before that game, they believed it basically from then on as the Tigers went on to win the national championship.

The Tigers have the makings of a defense as good or nearly as good as the 2007 unit now.

“Our guys understand our blitz and pressure packages a lot better right now,” LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis said. “Yeah, we like to blitz. We take a lot of pride in being a pressure defense. We can play zone when we need to and when we want to. We’re bringing people."

1.Track meet pressure from the LSU defense. West Virginia has likely not seen the kind of defensive speed it will see tonight in years.

2.West Virginia plays a version of the old Oklahoma defense, often using a three-man front, three linebackers and five defensive backs. It has worked very well for the Mountaineers over the years. LSU’s running game will have to do the job tonight for the Tigers to win, and West Virginia is No. 8 in the nation in rush defense with just 62 yards allowed a game.

3.West Virginia tailback Noel Devine is only 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, but he is as explosive as any runner in the SEC. Throughout his four-year career, Devine has broken 12 runs of 50 yards or more, including two over 87 yards and five of 70 yards or more. LSU will have to tackle well.

4.The Mountaineers have two receivers – Tavon Austin and Jock Sanders – with more than 200 yards receiving already. The 6-3 Smith has already thrown for 800 yards.
“They’ve got really good speed at the skill positions, and they’re big and physical up front,” Chavis said. “They’ve got a young quarterback who is unbelievable to watch. He’s very poised.”

5.LSU tight end DeAngelo Peterson will play for the first time this season tonight after suffering a foot injury in August. The junior from New Orleans is a good receiver and could help Jordan Jefferson complete some short passes to go with the running game.

FINAL SCORE: LSU 17, West Virginia 13. Not much LSU offense but a lot of defense. Get used to it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Upset brewing

Just saw where some national media types (read AP) are picking West Virginia to win at LSU on Saturday night.

It certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility. But somehow you have to think LSU's defense will turn this into a lower scoring game and that the Tigers have just enough offense.

Of course,you never know.

What say you?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Upon further review

Thoughts from Saturday's Mississippi State game.

1) I can't imagine many teams will continue to throw to Patrick Peterson's side. Heck, what was Dan Mullen thinking?

2) Morris Claiborne makes throwing to his side a little riskier. A couple of interceptions against State and knowing what to do with the football after catching it should catch some eyes in the film room.

3) Anytime the LSU offense wants to show up the Tigers might be able to blow someone out.

4) The offensive line is much improved to this point of the season. Of course, that may be relative to last season (Nick Saban would be proud of the use of the word relative).

5) Still waiting to see if LSU ever figures out how to use Russell Shepard, Rueben Randle and Terrence Toliver.

6) For the recruits at the game Saturday, at least the fans didn't turn on the team. That would have been unseemly.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

5 things to watch for against Miss. State

BATON ROUGE - For those demanding that Jarrett Lee play quarterback for LSU tonight against Mississippi State in the Tigers' home opener, the following questions:

1.Have your brain signals been intercepted? 2.Have you lost your mind? 3.Or have you just lost your memory?

There is no question No. 1 LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson played poorly last week in the win at Vanderbilt, completing 8 of 20 passes with an interception in the end zone when an open receiver stood waiting. Even some of his completions were poorly thrown - in the shoe area. He also ran badly as he often picked the wrong hole and just seemed out of it. And Jefferson was not under the constant pressure he was last season. He was sacked just once.

But Jefferson at his worst still does not produce interceptions and put his defense in awful situations the way Lee has in remarkable quantities even, at times, when he is at his best.

Jefferson has played in 21 games for LSU with 16 starts. In eight of those games, including seven starts, he has not thrown an interception.

Lee has played in 19 games for LSU with nine starts. In only one start did he not throw an interception. That was against Louisiana Tech last season when he had worse numbers than Jefferson had last week. Lee was 7 of 22 for 105 yards in that game with at least two dropped interceptions. In only six games of his career has Lee not thrown an interception, and in all but one of those he was on mop-up duty. In two of the five, he threw three passes. In the other three, he threw once in each game.

Through 310 passes in his career, Lee has thrown 17 interceptons. That's one every 18 throws. Lee also threw eight interceptions in a three-game span in the 2008 season after starting three games prior to that. Through 410 passes in his career, Jefferson has thrown 10 interceptions. That's one every 41 throws. He has never thrown more than one interception in a game.

Lee's record as a starter is 5-4. Jefferson's record as a starter is 11-5, and Jefferson began starting as a true freshman in 2008. Lee spent an entire season and spring "learning the system" before he became the starter early in the 2008 season as a redshirt freshman.

Jefferson's passing efficiency rating - a statistic that encompasses just about everything that a quarterback does - is 130.44. Lee's passing efficiency rating is 114.20. In his first season as a starter last year, Jefferson finished 36th nationally with a 137.18 rating. In his first season as a starter in 2008, Lee finished 81st nationally with a 116.9 rating. He also had the highest interception percentage at 5.95 with 16 in 269 attempts, or one every 16 passes.

Yet, many of you fans and some in the media want Lee. He does have a better arm than Jefferson. It's an arm that still tends to seduce LSU's coaches, but they now know how dangerous it also can be. Lee has thrown for more yards per start than Jefferson - 230 to 177. But yards in Lee's case have not meant wins.

An Associated Press story said that Jefferson has never thrown for more than 250 yards. Lee once threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns in a game. That was against Georgia in 2008. He also threw three interceptions in that game, and two were returned for touchdowns. LSU lost 52-38. Of Lee's two 250-plus-yard games, LSU was 1-1. Of his four 200-yard-plus games, LSU was 2-2. Of Jefferson's five games between 200-250 yards, LSU won three.

Jefferson also has never had two bad games in a row. Lee, meanwhile, has strung together bad games even when bad opponents are involved. In four of his last five starts, Lee went 8 of 20 with an interception against Tulane, 13 of 34 with four interceptions against Alabama, 4 of 12 with an interception against Ole Miss and 7 of 22 against Louisiana Tech. That's a .363 completion percentage and an interception every 14 passes.

Is that what you want?

1. All that said, if Jefferson does have another bad quarter or half, look for Lee to enter in the second quarter or start the second half and finish the game. Lee deserves another chance, even if it is about his fourth or fifth. Maybe he will be better this time. Regardless of what happens, look for Lee to play at some point in the first half.

2. Look for Mississippi State to have a lot of trouble scoring. LSU will sack each Bulldog quarterback twice and thoroughly dominate the game. We are about to see LSU's best defense since 2004.

3. Look for true freshman tailback Alfred Blue to get 10 carries and gain 79 yards with Richard Murphy out with a hamstring. Stevan Ridley will add 56 yards on 12 carries.

4. Look for a newly motivated Jefferson to respond with one of his better games, completing 12 of 17 for 186 yards.

5. Look for LSU to continue to run out of options with the option.
FINAL SCORE: LSU 17, Mississippi State 9.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sorry to mention this, but....

While people are gnashing their teeth over the quarterback play, has anyone besides me noticed that this LSU defense has given up plays of 50 yards or more in both games.

There was the 97-yard touchdown pass allowed against North Carolina. Last week,the run defense allowed a 51-yard run.

I realize the defense has played, for the most part, well this season. But a propensity to give up big plays in the first two games may be a bad omen for SEC play.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

On LSU-Oregon

LSU's recent dominance of the Pac-10 might get a bit of a challenge in the season opener next year.

Oregon has been a strong program in recent years and it will be interesting to see how LSU matches up with the Ducks.

Playing at Cowboys Stadium can't hurt recruiting in the Metroplex, although I don't know how much it will actually help.

Still, you have to figure this will be a competitive game.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Game day at last

North Carolina's suspensions make this a no-win situation for LSU coach Les Miles.

If his Tigers win tonight, then they were supposed to win since the Tar Heels have been depleted by suspensions.

If the Tigers lose, then Miles might reconsider boarding the flight back to Baton Rouge. Because if he thought he was on the hot seat before, it will be a smoking hot seat.

So what does it all mean?

It means we won't get a good gauge of this team tonight. Maybe after Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and West Virginia we'll know more. But tonight you have to throw out.