DEVILLE: Hangover effect in full force

A win is a win and in most people's book, that is all that matters right?

But LSU's 24-7 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday resembled another typical performance by these Tigers as of late. Saturday's 17-point victory cannot be categorized as another ugly win because the Tigers played very well in some spots.


Just to mention the bright spots in the game:


-          The Tigers ground game, which was anemic last week against Troy, racked up 273 yards rushing on 44 trips.

-          The special teams produced its first touchdown of the season when Skyler Green brought back a punt 65 yards for a third quarter touchdown.

-          The defense produced five sacks and 11 tackles for losses led by Claude Wroten's two sacks and three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

-          Wideout Craig Davis made one of the more impressive catches these eyes have seen in Tiger Stadium in quite some and ESPN thought so as well ranking Davis' third quarter TD grab as one of the top plays of the week.


With highlights like those, why the glum, hangover type feeling after a double-digit victory?


Well first of all, this could possibly be the worst home schedule any LSU football team has played in the 109-year history of the program. It is bad enough the home slate includes the likes of Troy, Arkansas State and Mississippi State, but to sandwich games against the Trojans and Vanderbilt with a pair of open dates in the thick of the college football season, a season in which LSU is the defending national champions quickly becomes almost an afterthought.


While referring to the season as an afterthought may be a bit brash and insulting to the players and coaches who dedicate so much time to the program, but for those folks who did bother to show up on campus Saturday, no one will argue with the fact the atmosphere, which is regarded as the bets in college football, is absolutely dead this season.


Tailgaters are out in record-low numbers this season. The atmosphere around campus is glaringly lacking and by the look of the empty seats in the stadium, you could almost mistake the crowd as one from the Curley Hallman era – not from the defending national champions. Saturday's announced crowd of 90,825 brought giggles in the press box as a rough estimate brought guesses of no more than 85,000 in attendance.


Empty seats dotted the grandstands in every area of the stadium, not to mention three giant-sized gaping holes in the top of the north end zone student section.


While the play of the team might have something to do with the lack of enthusiasm, it is understandable by the level of competition which the Tigers are facing in this midseason slot. Toss in the fact LSU was out of the SEC title picture after a loss to Auburn, not to mention a 45-16 thrashing at Georgia, the year-after effect is definitely rearing its ugly head in Baton Rouge.


As we mentioned above, there were some good things that came from Saturday's game. But for every optimistic aspect there can be a negative slant as well. Yes, LSU did rush for 273 yards, but Tiger quarterbacks attempted just 11 passes, completing six, for 102 yards.


Oh yes, the defense sacked Vanderbilt quarterbacks five times (knocking starter Jay Cutler from the game in the third quarter) and 11 times stopped a Commodore for a loss of yardage, but in the meantime, the Tiger defense surrendered 289 yards of total offense to Vandy.


Toss in the fact players, coaches and fans looked as senior center Ben Wilkerson's career at LSU came to an abrupt end on the last play of the game. The 6-4, 300-pound Hemphill, Texas native got rolled up on the last play of the game and was tended to in the minutes following. He left the field on his own, but a full-leg splint was applied as Wilkerson grimaced in pain as he limped to the locker room. It was reported Sunday he will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured patella tendon. Wilkerson, who started 41 games in his LSU career, has played his last down in the purple and gold.


And if losing Wilkerson wasn't bad enough, freshman speedster Xavier Carter will miss 4-6 weeks (possibly the rest of the season) with a broken clavicle (collar bone). Carter was hit hard on a first half kick return and left the field not to return.


As the Tigers head into their second and final open date of the season, fans can look forward to two much better home games (against Alabama and Ole Miss) than the past three. However, with these key injuries, LSU must play better than they have in the past two games if they hope to win out and reach the program's fourth straight New Year's Day bowl game.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine. You can contact him at

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