Like many Saturdays this year, the Tigers had LSU fans on the edge of their seats for much of their 41-24 victory over Ole Miss. It has become commonplace – build a lead, lose it, comeback; fall behind, come back; or start slow and pull away. Against the Rebels, LSU utilized option three to begin building a lead after halftime before sputtering a bit defensively.
LSU is outscoring opponents this season to beat them. Yes, that's an obvious statement, but it means there simply aren't many games nowadays for the Tigers where they hold opponents at bay from getting to the end zone. The reasons for that have been plenty though. In addition to the defense giving up big plays, there have also been interceptions and special teams' gaffes. Ole Miss capitalized on two of the three to make things look somewhat respectable.
At this point, one has to wonder if the Tigers will put utilize one of its last three games to put everything together and give a performance that resembled what they did against
Matt Flynn escaped with no interceptions in completing 17-of-25 passes for 168 yards, but he was held without a passing touchdown. He did use his legs a little bit and even scored the first touchdown of the day on a five-yard run to cap to 98-yard drive.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, his performance was marred by three sacks.
Running back by committee worked for 228 yards, and Charles Scott's 29-yard touchdown run was incredible to say the least. Early Doucet had a quiet eight-catch day for 58 yards, and there were no drops. The only thing conspicuous that was missing was that the Tigers didn't utilize their tight ends.
Even so, three scoring drives of 10 plays or more and converting when Ole Miss provided a short field provided more than enough firepower.
LSU's defense wasn't prepared for Brent Schaeffer, and it was obvious.
Much like against Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor, the Tigers struggled to contain a running quarterback. Had Schaeffer not been pulled at the end of the first half after leading the Rebels all the way down into the Tigers red zone, the score may have been tied at 14-14 headed into halftime.
On the positive side, the Tigers didn't allow a point the entire first half. Over the course of the third and fourth quarters, however, things just went badly. In the fourth quarter alone, the Rebels put up 186 yards of their 466 yards for the game. LSU appeared to be napping a little bit when it was spread out, and that led to a 38-yard touchdown run by Schaeffer that made the score 27-17 with 9:11 to go. Schaeffer added a 33-yard touchdown to his résumé as well on a pass where Chevis Jackson lost track of Shay Hodge, despite the fact they were both just standing there in the end zone.
The coverage teams allowed fewer return yards than in previous weeks on kickoffs, but too many times Rebels were just one tackle away from going all the way. LSU did give up a 44-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Colt David hit on field goal attempts of 48 and 43 yards, nailing his twentieth and twenty-first field goal attempts of the season. David set the single-season record for the Tigers for field goals made with 20, and proved to be clutch once again.
Patrick Fisher didn't have any punts blocked, but also had a chance to pin the Rebels deep instead of kicking the ball out the back of the end zone.
The bright spot, of course, was Trindon Holliday's 98-yard punt return, which gave LSU a 14-7 lead.
Nine penalties is still too much, and at least one allowed a drive to continue. Again, penalties have to be curtailed.
LSU had no turnovers and scored on seven of its 10 possessions that mattered. As far as the game plan was concerned, the Tigers appeared ready. But, as Miles stated, the coaching staff didn't take into consideration Schaeffer's assets, and there were times when the Tigers defense could do little to stop him.
They did force him into two interceptions in the second half though, so adjustments were being made. Thankfully, for the Tigers, Schaeffer wasn't in early enough to make his running ability more of a factor.