Beckwith Doing More Than Most Realize

As LSU's offense struggled mightily against Tulane last Saturday, the Tigers defense did what it has done for the majority of the 2007 season – kept the opposing team from getting too many points so that fans wouldn't worry too much.

Although he didn't lead LSU in tackles, haul in any interceptions, or recover any fumbles, junior linebacker Darry Beckwith was certainly one of the main reasons why the Green Wave was not able to do more damage than it did.


Through most of the first half, the Tigers found themselves victims of horrendous field position. Four of LSU's drives began inside of its own 19-yard line. Two of those drives began on the Tigers' 3- and 6-yard line. Booming punts by Patrick Fisher at least made Tulane take over on its own side of the field. Even so, the Green Wave would rack up 126 yards of total offense in the first half. Just for a little perspective, that was more yards than the Tigers had given up on the ground to opponents through four games.


"Thank goodness the defense played well the entire game," LSU Head Coach Les Miles said. "I mean, except for two spots late in the first half and maybe a little in the second half. But if they hadn't played well, it could have been a long night."


Although they did have some drives of substance in the first half, Tulane's first seven possessions of the morning/afternoon looked poor on paper – fumble, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. Even so, the Green Wave was able to convert on third downs early, and there were times when the Tigers looked a little lost. Of course, considering Tulane was running everything it could think of to confuse LSU, including a triple-reverse flea flicker, some lapses were explainable. But not all of them, and certainly not all of them for the nation's No. 1 defense.


"There were a couple of plays on third-and-long we were kind of off-page," Beckwith said. "Some people thought that the call was different. So we've got to get on the same page and communicate better."


Even though he only had five solo tackles and a pass broken up, Beckwith seemed to be all over the field against Tulane. A few of his defensive teammates weren't surprised at all about that. Beckwith's presence around the ball is something they've come to expect.


"He's an excellent linebacker, and I think everybody knows that," fellow linebacker Luke Sanders said. "He's out there making – You know, people don't understand, I think, how many calls and checks he has to make out there. For him to be able to make all of those checks and still go out there and make plays like he does, it's an extraordinary thing for a linebacker like that. He's a real intense guy and it shows on the field. You know, every game he goes out there you see him making tackles all across the field."


Safety Craig Steltz, who did lead the Tigers in tackles against Tulane and recovered a fumble in the victory, agreed with Sanders' assessment.


"He does a great job every game of keeping this defense on the same page, and all the adjustments they had for us; they were reversing every which way, throwing halfback passes," Steltz said. "I mean, he does a great job of keeping this defense on the same page and, you know, that's what we have to work on. There were a couple of communication breakdowns out there, but that's what we're going to prepare ourselves for this week, and that's what we're going to work on."


For his part, Beckwith wasn't really willing to take much credit for his individual achievements against Tulane. In truth, it was a collaborative effort that eventually resulted in keeping alive LSU's streak of opponents this season whose starting quarterback did not end up finishing the game. Through five games, that streak stands at five.


"There's 11 guys on defense, so it's not just me," Beckwith said. "Everybody makes plays, and we have a great defense. And I think once we continue to work hard and continue to get better and look at this film and work on the little small things, I think we'll get ready for Florida."


A second consecutive slow start by LSU's offense put the Tigers defense in a hole on multiple occasions last Saturday. Much like it did against South Carolina, LSU's defense was required to uphold the Tigers' reputation as a national championship contender. Should an occasion arise where the roles are reversed, however, Beckwith maintains his offensive counterparts will provide the same support.


"There's 22 guys on the field, so it's a team effort," Beckwith said. "If the offense is not doing well, we have to get them out of the hole. If we're not playing well, they have to do the same for us."


Holes for the Tigers haven't been all that deep this season, thus far. Defensively, LSU hasn't really had the experience of being unable to stop an opponent. In order for Tigers fans to comprehend what that situation would look like, they should take a look at the Virginia Tech game. The Hokies were a fine example in Week Two when quarterback Sean Glennon was being pasted every other play while LSU's offense ran roughshod over Virginia Tech's defense.


The final tally of 48-7 is not one that if reversed would sit well with Tigers anywhere. Beckwith and company are determined to make sure that doesn't happen.

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