DEVILLE: Could be worse, just ask Lloyd Carr

One would think a 45-0 victory in the season opener would pacify most fans – at least until the next game.

But apparently that doesn't seem to be the case.


Despite a slow start offensively, LSU used seven turnovers to its advantage en route to a 45-0 rout of Mississippi State in last Thursday's season opener at Scott Field in Starkville.


Being ranked No. 2 in the country, having a lopsided win under its belt, and heading into what should prove to be a huge showdown Saturday versus Virginia Tech, the Tigers should be able to count on the general consensus among their fans to be gleeful – especially after the Hokies struggled mightily in their season opener in Lane Stadium against East Carolina.


But sadly, no, not so much.


As I drove back to Baton Rouge Friday morning from northern Mississippi, I discussed LSU's dominating victory over the Bulldogs with Sam Frake, Tiger Rag's graphic designer.  We felt the game was simply a solid win over an SEC team on the road in a season opener. Enough said. Bring on the Hokies.


But by the time we rolled into range to pick up Baton Rouge area talk radio, we found a much different climate than expected.


Fans were ranting and raving over the airwaves as if LSU had LOST the game. People were complaining about the play calling, the offensive line, Matt Flynn's performance … You name it, someone had a complaint. Honestly, it was almost humorous.


The gripe fest continued into Saturday morning as the Internet was abuzz with people unhappy with LSU's performance Thursday night.


I spoke with Tiger Rag columnist and longtime Times-Picayune sports writer Marty Mule' Saturday morning, and he offered some sage words about the chatter around TigerTown on Friday.


"The only time a Tiger fan is truly happy," Mule' said, "is when LSU wins and they still have something to gripe about."


That pretty much sums up the situation as a very vocal minority of Tiger fans has spent the better part of Friday and Saturday dissecting LSU's very businesslike rout of the Bulldogs.


I'll offer up my two cents:  Hey, it could be a lot worse.


Imagine what it's like to be a Michigan fan right now. I guarantee Wolverine fans would gladly trade a 34-32 loss to Division I-AA Appalachian State for a 45-0 thrashing of Miss. State.


You think?


With LSU kicking off the 2007 season last Thursday, I had an unusual chance to get out and enjoy some other college football Saturday evening. While watching the Tennessee-California game, I was bombarded with questions about LSU's vanilla play calling, the poor play of the offensive line – especially the right side - and the fact Les Miles insists on starting Jacob Hester at tailback.


Like I have several times already, I'll quickly address these issues.


The most common complaint has been about play calling. Midway through the first half, the performance of the LSU offense looked quite similar to the one it gave in the Auburn game a year ago. The Tigers conservatively ran the ball between the tackles and kept things very, very basic.


But did you really think they'd open up the playbook against Miss. State? They knew going to Starkville that a win was pretty much certain and did very basic things in picking up the victory.


Matt Flynn did run the ball a little too often for comfort (he carried the ball 11 times for 42 yards). Over half of those rushes weren't designed running plays; rather, Flynn scrambled because he couldn't find an open receiver. When he did run, Flynn managed to avoid any serious contact with defenders and hit the deck and ran out of bounds efficiently enough. Besides, Flynn is a big, strong kid and likes contact. Remember, he played six games his senior year of high school with a broken leg. He's tough.


As for the offensive line, give them a little time to gel. And you'd better be as patient as possible because this is all the personnel the Tigers have.


Take into account LSU lost three backup offensive linemen – Zhamal Thomas, Kyle Anderson and Steve Singleton – before Fall Camp even opened. And they lost another – Mark Snyder – just three days in with a knee injury.


The obvious weak link on the o-line was right tackle Carnell Stewart. Give him a little bit of a break, though. He was playing in his first game – EVER – as an offensive lineman, having moved over from defense in the spring. His backup, true freshman Joe Barksdale, is also a converted defensive lineman.


And, oh, by the way, Stewart just happened to be lined up on Miss. State's best player, All-SEC defensive end Titus Brown. Stewart was flagged for a couple of motion penalties and a phantom holding call, but it was his first game.


Overall, remember no team is going to play 12 perfect games in a season. Think back to 2003 when LSU escaped a couple of games with sub-par performances. Florida won a national championship a year ago struggling against the likes of Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida State.


Take solace in the fact that LSU did have some hiccups last Thursday night but still managed to win 45-0. Don't you think Mack Brown had some questions directed his way after Texas survived their season opener with Arkansas State 21-13?


And we won't even mention Michigan and Lloyd Carr again. Ouch!


So, Tiger fans, stop fretting over the negatives from the Miss. State game. It's in the books. Get ready for what is shaping up to be one for the ages this weekend against Virginia Tech.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at

Tiger Blitz Top Stories