10 for the Win

TSD takes a look back at 10 positives from LSU's weekend win over Kentucky.

1) After giving up 533 total yards against West Virginia, the LSU defense toned down the trash talk and took care of business against Kentucky. The Tigers allowed just 155 total yards, 110 of which came in the second half.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith’s quick-fire attack led to a 463-yard passing night the week prior, so LSU took out its frustration on Kentucky’s Morgan Newton, who didn’t complete a pass until the final minute of the first half. After he was pulled in favor of backup Max Smith, Newton finished 6-of-20 passing for 57 yards.

 

2) Kudos to sophomore defensive end Sam Montgomery, the spoken leader on the defensive line. After LSU had been ineffective getting to the passer in spread attacks like Oregon and West Virginia, Montgomery said he brought the defensive line together and preached to be better against the Wildcats.

They were.

Montgomery led the way with six tackles and recorded 1.5 sacks. Tyrann Mathieu, Bennie Logan, Barkevious Mingo and Ron Brooks also recorded sacks.

 

3) The afternoon’s biggest defensive play came from Mathieu, who stripped Smith on a third-down blitz, scooped up the fumble and sprinted 23 yards for the touchdown.

Midway through his sophomore season, Mathieu holds the LSU record for career forced fumbles (9). If there’s been a defensive player with more of an impact through five weeks, find him.

With LSU at 5-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, the Mathieu – a.k.a Honey Badger - looks like a shoe-in for the Lott Trophy.

 

4) Mathieu is making his native New Orleans proud with his defensive prowess, but the Big Easy also has something to be excited about on the offensive side of the ball.

Newman High graduate Odell Beckham’s freshman campaign just keeps getting more promising, and on Saturday he grabbed one Jarrett Lee pass that fans won’t soon forget.

After catching the pass on the far left side of the field, Beckham spun to the sidelines to avoid the initial defender. He then took off – running parallel to the goal line – making five Wildcat defenders miss before gliding into the end zone for the 51-yard touchdown.

In five college games Beckham has caught 20 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He is second only to junior Rueben Randle in yards, who has caught 19 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns.

 

5) Another freshman that made a statement: Terrance Magee.

After Spencer Ware was injured on the first drive of the game, LSU coach Les Miles went the rest of the way with Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Magee.

Ford’s nine touches were on the short end as Blue and Magee each received double-digit touches, and Magee finished with 38 yards and a touchdown.

After the win, Miles said Magee was never going to redshirt and that the staff though about inserting the former Franklinton High star into action a number of times of the past few weeks. When Ware went down early, Miles said the situation was fitting, and off came Magee’s redshirt.

 

6) Jordan Jefferson is back.

After Miles suspended Jefferson following his Aug. 26 arrest, last Wednesday’s reduction of Jefferson’s charges from second-degree battery to simple battery meant the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.

Miles immediately reinstated Jefferson, but made it clear to media members at his Wednesday radio show that Lee was No. 1 on the depth chart and Jefferson, who hadn’t practiced with the team since his arrest, the No. 2.

After two days of practice, No. 9 was back in action surprisingly early. Tied at 0-0 and faced with fourth-and goal in the first quarter, Miles sent in Jefferson for the quarterback sneak.

The bad: In front of his home crowd, boos rained down on Jefferson from all directions.

The good: Jefferson got LSU on the board with the sneak, and later added 28 more yards on three quarterback keepers.

 

7) After playing the most snaps of his senior season in LSU’s win over West Virginia, cornerback Ron Brooks came with a big showing against Kentucky when he led the team in pass breakups, recorded three tackles - one for a 3-yard loss – and was in on a sack.

Every year the LSU staff latches on to one backup who plays big off the bench and on special teams.

This year that is Brooks, the second man opposite Mo Claiborne on kick returns and one of the gunners on punts. Brooks has never recorded a start, but he has appeared in 44 games and seen reps at cornerback, safety, nickel back and special teams.

Brooks finished his junior year with 33 tackles, one forced fumble and an interception. In fives games this season, he has recorded nine tackles and recovered a fumble.

 

8) The defensive backs are one of LSU’s strong suits. From Mathieu to Mo Claiborne and Eric Reid to Brandon Taylor, not many college coaches can put four better defensive backs onto the field.

This weekend, LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper did a little more experimenting, giving redshirt freshmen Sam Gibson and Ron Vinson reps in the second half.

With Craig Loston – the typical third man in after Reid and Taylor - sidelined with a concussion, Gibson, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder out of Prattville, Ala., was in on three tackles from his safety spot.

With Taylor graduating, Gibson will likely move into a second-string spot next season. At cornerback, Brooks will graduate and Claiborne will flirt with the idea of going pro as a junior, meaning more reps could be coming Vinson’s way in the near future.

 

9) LSU fans have begged for more from senior tight end DeAngelo Peterson, a mismatch for most linebackers but rarely a target from quarterback Jarrett Lee.

In LSU’s win over Oregon, Peterson grabbed four catches for 63 yards, then followed it up with one catch – a touchdown – against Northwestern State.

Then he disappeared, catching just one pass for two yards in games at Mississippi State and West Virginia.

Against Kentucky, when Peterson lined up as an inside receiver in four-wide sets, Lee went to his tight end three times, and Peterson grabbed two catches for 22 yards.

Headed into the meat of the SEC schedule, Peterson said that he should become more involved in the offensive attack.

 

10) For a former offensive lineman like Miles, depth is everything – and over the first five weeks LSU proved to have that in spades.

The good news: Alex Hurst is back at his starting right tackle spot, where he went from start to finish against the Wildcats. After he was injured against Mississippi State and played sparingly against West Virginia, Chris Faulk was back as the starting left tackle.

Left guard T-Bob Hebert missed the Kentucky game, but Miles said Hebert would likely be back for this weekend’s Florida game.

The one constant has been center P.J. Lonergan, who has played every offensive snap this season.


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