DEVILLE: It's all right to grind one out

The Tigers got it done. Period. That's all you need to worry about.

LSU came into a game against a top 12 team for the second time in three weeks and dominated. It wasn't pretty (well maybe except for that fake field goal), it wasn't flashy, but it got the job done.


Most Tigers fan will take a double-digit victory anytime, especially over a ranked opponent. However, there were plenty of grumbling fans leaving Tiger Stadium in the early evening hours Saturday following LSU's 28-16 win over 12th-ranked South Carolina.


The Tigers' victory, while 12 points over a Steve Spurrier-coached team, was cheapened a bit when the Gamecocks put up a nine-spot on the LSU defense in the fourth quarter.


Instead of winning by three touchdowns, which is how the third quarter ended, the Tigers limped away with a dozen-point advantage.


LSU's offense was sporadic at times. At other junctures in the game, it was downright ugly as Tiger quarterbacks combined to complete 8 of 20 passes for just 70 yards with a touchdown and an interception.


Matt Flynn was a shell of himself playing on a tender ankle – and it showed as he hit on 8 of 19 passes for all 70 of those yards, including the touchdown and the interception. Ryan Perrilloux was sharp running the football accounting for 59 yards on eight carries. He completed only one pass.


Flynn's numbers might have been better had LSU's receivers held onto the football, most notably Jared Mitchell, who dropped four passes.


Defensively, the Tigers played suffocating defense for three quarters allowing the Gamecocks just 102 yards of total offense heading into the fourth quarter. Plus, the LSU stoppers drove yet another starter to the bench as South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell was yanked in favor of freshman Chris Smelley.


In the fourth period, Smelley completed a number of passes and engineered a couple of scoring drives that closed the gap considerably. The Gamecocks gained 159 yards in the final 15 minutes, including scoring drives covering 56 and 80 yards.


LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini praised the play of his defense in the first three periods, but said they wore down a bit down the stretch and missed some tackles.


Fans were upset that the margin of victory wasn't greater and that it might cost LSU some votes in the poll the way it has West Virginia and Texas in the first few weeks of the season.


Actually, LSU picked up three more first place votes in the AP Poll with 22 this week, up from 19 a week ago. That probably had something to do with the Tigers' second win over a highly-ranked opponent coupled with the fact Florida was forced to hang on to beat a mediocre at best Ole Miss team on the road 30-24.


All right, enough with the negative. Here are the positive things that came from Saturday's game.


Remember when the play of LSU's offensive line was such a concern. Heading into the fifth week of the season, the Tigers rank ninth in the nation in rushing offense generating 245 rushing yards per game. On Saturday, LSU ran for 290 yards, bolstered by Jacob Hester's career high 88 yards (1 TD) on the ground.


The Tigers continued using the "hot hand" theory as eight different players carried the ball for the Tigers, including LSU kicker Colt David, who scored on a 15-yard run on a second quarter fake field goal.


Trindon Holliday is the perfect offset from LSU's bruising backs like Hester, Keiland Williams and Charles Scott. Holliday also had a career night running for 73 yards on just six carries including an electrifying 33 yard touchdown run in the first quarter.


Sure the passing attack struggled, but with Flynn injured and most of the first three quarters played in a driving rainstorm, the Tigers were lucky they got out of the game throwing only one interception. LSU had three fumbles in the game, but recovered them all.


Perrilloux played brilliantly running the football. He threw only one pass, but wasn't given the option to throw as his obvious mission was to chew up huge chunks of yardage via the run.


LSU's defense did sag a bit in the fourth quarter, but not before setting the tone for the game in the first three stanzas. The Tiger stoppers were dominant in the first three quarters and ended the game by allowing just 17 yards on 27 carries by Gamecock runners.


Presently, the LSU defense is rated the No. 1 in total defense (161.5 ypg), scoring defense (5.8 ppg) and rushing defense (26.8). Sure South Carolina's 244 yards passing sticks out like a sore thumb, but LSU sacked Gamecock quarterbacks three times upping the Tigers' season total to 17, which ranks fifth nationally.


LSU is ranked fifth in the nation with nine interceptions and third in turnover margin.


Plus, the Tigers are responsible for what will go down as one of the sharpest plays in college football this season with a perfectly executed Flynn to David pitch on the fake field goal in the second quarter.


Bottom line is this, the Tigers beat a highly-ranked opponent by double digits in inclement weather, while not playing their best football with a banged up quarterback and missing the team's best offensive player (Early Doucet).


LSU still seems very much in the groove as the Tiger machine continues its march to New Orleans. LSU saw its first sign of adversity on Saturday, overcame it, and still won comfortably. As it was proved by the Florida Gators last year, LSU in 2003 and virtually every team that has won a national title, in order to win a championship, you have to grind every now and then.


Speaking of those Gators, how big has that Oct. 6 game now become?




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

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