Grades are in

No. 6 ranked LSU went into a hostile environment and came away with a 26-21 win over No. 9 ranked Auburn on Saturday. The first half was a defensive battle but LSU's offense came alive in the second half.

After reviewing the game it’s now time to grade the Tigers’ performance.

 

Quarterbacks

Gary Crowton kept the quarterbacks on a tight leash in the first half to get their feet wet on the road. But once he opened it up in the second half and Jarrett Lee was able to get some completions he started finding some rhythm. Lee went on to finish 11 for 17 for 186 yards and two scores in the second half which was a very good outing for a redshirt freshman playing on the road for the first time and taking into account the first half he had where he was 0 for 5 with a pick for six. He threw a couple of passes in traffic in the second half that could have been picked off but he bounced back to make a big throw on the next play. The touchdown pass to Chris Mitchell was spectacular because Lee took a big hit when he got rid of it, he didn’t step into the throw, but still led Mitchell perfectly.

 

Not many, including myself, felt that Lee or Hatch would be able to put the team on their shoulders and lead them to victory but that is exactly what the redshirt freshman did in the second half.

 

As for Hatch, he managed the game well and made some nice runs when he was in. He finished with 40 yards on 10 carries and completed 2 of 6 for 16 yards but once again, we have to factor in the conservative play-calling.

 

Grade: A- (The numbers and stats may not match up to this grade but Lee get bonus points for playing big on the road and coming from behind twice.)

 

Running Backs

 

Some questioned if Charles Scott was ready to be the feature back but if they still question that after his 132-yard performance against a good Auburn defense then I don’t know what it will take to convince them. Scott ran hard and out of his 21 carries he was thrown for a loss only once which was his second carry of the game. Once again, he delivered more licks than he took and he used his vision well to make a few nice cutbacks.

 

Keiland Williams looked a little unsure of himself on his first carry but he did have a good run up the middle to start off LSU's game-winning drive. Richard Murphy got only a couple of carries but with the way Scott was running neither Williams nor Murphy should have been a bigger factor because Scott definitely had the hot hand.

 

Grade: A+ (Scott was fantastic against one of the better defenses in the SEC and there really isn’t anything else that needs to be said. Williams helped out as well with the pretty pass he lofted to Demetrius Byrd in the back of the endzone.)

 

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

 

Brandon LaFell put up good numbers with four catches for 92 yards and a huge touchdown, and he made several big blocks out on the edge. He made one really nice grab late in the third quarter where he went up high to make the catch and then Lee went right back to him on the next play. Demetrius Byrd made a couple of good grabs where he took a big lick and then, of course, the touchdown he hauled in from Keiland Williams.

 

It was good to see Chris Mitchell get his number called again and he made the big grab on Lee’s first touchdown pass then Jared Mitchell made two important catches on the game-winning march. Terrance Toliver was non-existent again but he was open streaking down the right sideline on LSU's first drive but Andrew Hatch overthrew him. LSU's offensive line did a good job of opening up holes for the run game and Richard Dickson did a good job of sealing the edge and getting downfield. Not to mention the big 16-yard completion he made on third and four when Lee entered the game after Hatch was knocked out.

 

Grade: A (The drops were few and far between and the downfield blocking was outstanding for the most part.)

 

Offensive Line

 

Auburn’s front caused some problems in the first half but Brett Helms, Herman Johnson, and Lyle Hitt may not face another defensive tackle that moves around as much and is as good as Sen’Derrick Marks. He was disruptive but kept in check most of the second half and finished with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. One of the keys to the game was the play of Joe Barksdale, who was making his first road start, and the future is going to be very bright for big No. 78. He showed some real quick feet and manhandled Auburn defensive end Michael Goggans all night. The offensive linemen are well conditioned and it showed in the fourth quarter when they were getting downfield and pushing Auburn’s front around.

 

Grade: A (Sen’Derrick Marks caused some problems inside but overall it was another good showing by the Tigers in the trenches.)

 

Defensive Line

 

Still waiting on Ricky Jean-Francois to play like he is capable of playing and even though he is getting double-teamed he should have a lot more than five tackles and one for a loss on the year. He made a couple of nice plays and acted like a leader in the lockerroom at halftime when he spoke and got the team fired up. Getting Charles Alexander back to full strength will help but there wasn’t as much of a push inside as you would expect after three games. The tackles did do a good job of clogging up the middle and not letting Auburn get to the second line and it showed by the play of the linebackers.

 

The pressure off the edge was good and Tyson Jackson stepped his game up and did what leaders do and that is lead by example. He got good pressure and played the run well, and the same can be said for Kirston Pittman on the other side. Pittman, who has been fighting an ankle injury, had six tackles including one and a half for loss, and together he and Jackson combined for eight quarterback hurries registering four a piece. It’s good to see Rahim Alem living up the hype he had coming in as a signee. His big sack of Chris Todd on the final drive, which gave him a team-leading two sacks on the year, pushed Auburn back to its own 38 and forced it into a second and 25. It also made amends for the roughing the passer penalty on the previous play.

 

Grade: A- (The edge pressure was good and holding Auburn to only 1.9 yards a carry was outstanding.)

 

 

Linebackers

 

LSU didn’t have many communication breakdowns with getting the plays in but there were a couple of instances where Perry Riley had to scramble to get off the field due to substitutions. The linebackers, and the rest of the defense, moved around and weren’t statues like they were in some games last year when the quarterbacks would go up to the line and check off based on the formation.

 

Some were worried that the loss of Darry Beckwith would have a big effect on the defense’s performance but Kelvin Sheppard (9 tackles), Jacob Cutrera (5 tackles), and Perry Riley (4 tackles) played well. There were a few missed tackles and a few instances where they got lost in space but overall they played well and delivered some big hits. Watch out for Kelvin Sheppard too because by the time he leaves LSU he could be in that same mold as Bradie James.

 

Grade: B+ (They supported the run and covered well without their leader on the field.)

 

Secondary

 

Chris Hawkins had his coming out party with two interceptions and he was steady all game. The tandem of Jai Eugene and Patrick Peterson on the other side is still a work in progress. It looked as if Danny McCray was not 100 percent and he struggled with his technique. He bit on the fake too many times and got caught out of position. The defensive backs did get two picks and could have gotten a third if Curtis Taylor hadn’t run through the ball.

 

Grade: C+ (Auburn threw for 250 yards and the secondary got burned for five passes that gained at least 29 yards.)

 

Special Teams

 

Maybe Brady Dalfrey and Josh Jasper will continue to wear No. 30 for the remainder of the year because Dalfrey looked like a different punter than the No. 38 we saw the first two games. He punted the ball extremely well with four of his six punts being downed inside the 20 and ending the night with a 48.3 yard average. Auburn’s punt returner Robert Dunn didn’t get any chances to return a punt so not only did Dalfrey do a good job with his distance but also with directional kicking.

 

The kickoffs were still a little short except for the one that Jasper got into the endzone for a touchback but coverage was good once again. There was the one missed field goal opportunity by Colt David but he nailed two others.

 

After bobbling the only two punts he had a chance to field, which now gives him three in the last two games, Trindon Holliday was replaced by Chad Jones and there wasn’t much production in the return department. However, seeing T-Bob Hebert rumble for 13 yards on a kickoff was something to see.

 

Grade: A- (Dalfrey was superb and coverage was good but the two fumbles by Holliday could have changed the outcome of the game had LSU not recovered them.)


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