By the end of the season it may be forgotten. But the truth is, that out of everyone who had a chance, it was ultimately the Green Wave that gave LSU its first real test of the 2007 campaign. How else can one explain minus-11 yards rushing at halftime and a one-point lead at the break over a team that beat SLU by eight points?
Indeed, for two quarters the Tigers offense looked like it had been possessed by the spirit of the NFL team that is currently having struggles of its own on the floor of the Louisiana Superdome.
Maybe there was a little bit of voodoo involved. Maybe it was the white helmets. Maybe it was the 11 a.m. start time. Maybe … maybe it was just that Tulane came to play and LSU simply didn't realize it. Regardless of whatever "it" was, there certainly was way too much of "it" in the first half to ignore. Most importantly, the Tigers managed to regroup and come away with a victory.
That was certainly something a lot
of other teams had trouble doing last Saturday.
Six sacks. Wide-open receivers missed. Wide-open receivers dropping passes. No holes to run through. Motion penalties. Saying LSU's offense looked flat would be understating the obvious.
Matt Flynn was statuesque at times
in the pocket, which is good if you're a model. Unfortunately, as he continued
to remain in the pocket and keep healing for the Tigers game against
Beginning with the field goal to end the first half, the Tigers offense scored or set up in field goal position on five of six possessions. Had they been able to begin the game like that, the score would not have been nearly as close. LSU had 391 yards of total offense, but it certainly didn't feel like it.
Tulane's 88 yards rushing is the most anyone has put up against the Tigers this season. Its 139 yards passing was second best. But the Tigers were also able to force three turnovers and held the Green Wave to just 101 yards of total offense in the second half.
Tulane quarterbacks were a woeful 12-of-32 throwing the ball, eight of the Green Wave's 15 possessions ended after three or fewer plays, and all of that happened despite the fact that LSU's defense was on the field for nearly 28-and-a-half minutes.
Other than Tulane's scoring drive of 58 yards, every other drive covered 29 yards or fewer, save one. The only exception to that was a six-play, 50-yard drive in the third quarter that ended when Chevis Jackson made a spectacular interception grab to give the Tigers the ball back.
The Tigers missed a field goal to start the day off, and there were most definitely times where Tulane's penetration of the punt formation caused concern. But the Green Wave never got there, and Patrick Fisher averaged 48.2 yards per punt.
Colt David did avenge his first upright ding with field goals from 36 and 33 yards, and the punt return team got a new face with Chad Jones returning kicks. He didn't muff any of the three that he caught, so that was positive.
Tulane did have 107 yards in kickoff return yardage, but that was mostly because the Tigers were forced to kick off eight times. It averages out to a little over 13 yards per return. Perhaps the most disappointing thing on the day was the lack of a punt rush by LSU.
Green Wave booter Ross Thevenot nearly gave the Tigers a gift when he fumbled a high snap that rolled around before he picked it up and blasted it over 50 yards. Thevenot almost looked shocked through his faceguard that there weren't any purple jerseys around when that happened.
GRADE: B –
The players were fired up, oozed passion, and were certainly ready to show the nation they are worthy of recognition from the start.
Oops! That's Tulane's coaching report card. LSU looked unfocused, confused, and uncertain of themselves at times. The Green Wave had enough intensity in the first half to overcome its lack of talent for the most part, but eventually the sleepwalkers awoke.
To LSU head coach Les Miles' credit, he didn't lose his composure on the sideline, didn't start yelling at players, or rip off his headset and slam it down to fire anyone up. He seemed to exude the optimism that despite the Tigers' worse offensive first-half showing of the season, there was still 30 more minutes of football to be played. He obviously got that message across to his players.
Miles has the responsibility to get the players' heads right the week leading up to a game; but more importantly, he has the duty to keep his players' heads level on game day. It would have been easy for LSU to have accepted that Tulane was going to keep the game close for 60 minutes, that it would be a struggle for the duration.
That didn't happen, and it was certainly worth bonus points for the coaching staff, considering everything else that happened in the world of college football on the same day.
Sometimes you have to grade on a curve.