4th Quarter Report Card

Do remember the last day of school and how anxious you were because all you had to do was sit around and wait for your report card?<br><br> Remember when you knew your grades weren't going to be that good?<br><br>Well, that's sort of the spirit with which we tackle this final edition of the Tiger Rag report card for the 2002 LSU football team.

Our fourth quarter grades cover LSU's performances against Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas, and there are some bright spots to note over the final stretch of the season despite the Tigers 1-3 record.

We'll take our third and fourth quarter grades to find a second semester average and go back to the mid-term marks to determine a final grade for the position.



Mid-term grade: B

Third quarter grade: C

LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is in the process of molding yet another young quarterback into a productive offensive player. Unfortunately, the regular season has come to an end for Marcus Randall and with it the ability for him to take daily repetitions with his offense.

As poorly as Randall played against Alabama, he bounced back and did well against Ole Miss and Arkansas. What was most encouraging from his November showing was that he avoided the costly mistakes he committed against Auburn, playing interception-free football over the last three games.

Rick Clausen practiced well enough to earn himself playing time against Alabama and Ole Miss, but his rough start against the Rebels showed how far LSU has to go to shore up its quarterback position.

Fourth quarter grade: C

Final Grade: C+



Mid-term grade: B

Third quarter grade: B

The return of LaBrandon Toefield for the last three games didn't give the LSU running game the boost most expected, as the junior from Independence never got back into the devastating rhythm he displayed last season.

For a stretch of two or three games, Domanick Davis was an effective running back. But he could not withstand the week-to-week pounding of the position and remain a dangerous special teams player. He needed a support from Toefield and Joseph Addai, who did not provide an adequate help over the closing weeks.

But what may have been most detrimental to the LSU rushing attack was the predictability that resulted from playing with an inexperienced quarterback. Teams expected the Tigers to run first and pass only when necessary. And even when Marcus Randall found his range, LSU was still a team that depended heavily on the run.

Fourth quarter grade: C

Final Grade: C



Mid-term grade: B

Third quarter grade: B

LSU had good fortune along its offensive line in 2002 in terms of health. After Ben Wilkerson's knee injury against Virginia Tech, the Tigers escaped the injury bug for the remainder of the schedule.

Unfortunately, this didn't translate into the dominant performance some might have expected from a unit so deep with experience and talent. The Tigers' rushing numbers petered downward in November, and LSU opponents recorded two sacks a game over the last three weeks.

The production from the LSU offensive line might not have been up to the level most would have liked at the tail end of 2002, but there's every reason to believe the Tigers will get more out of this bunch in the future.

Fourth quarter grade: C

Final Grade: C



Mid-term grade: C

Third quarter grade: C+

We could grade the Tiger receivers on a curve over the fourth quarter since they were working with an inexperienced quarterback. Plus, it wasn't their fault that the Tigers relied on a running game sometimes to the point of futility.

But after a near negligible showing against Alabama, the LSU receiving corps turned in perhaps its most balanced performances of the season over the last two games. Even without playmaker Devery Henderson at their disposal, the Tigers enjoyed the reliability of Michael Clayton and discovered a star for the future in Skyler Green.

Fourth quarter grade: B

Final grade: B-



Mid-term grade: B

Third quarter grade: B

Injuries took their toll on the LSU defensive line perhaps more than at any other position on the team. Defensive ends Marquise Hill (shoulder) and Marcus Spears (ankle) were slowed, as was defensive tackle Chad Lavalais (knee).

The Tigers in the trenches gritted their teeth and put forth a valiant effort, but teams who were able to run the ball enjoyed good games against LSU.

The Tigers stepped up their pass rush against Ole Miss, the lone passing team on the final fourth of their schedule, but Alabama and Arkansas didn't feel much heat when they chose to break from their rushing routines to throw the ball.

Fourth quarter grade: C

Final grade: C+



Mid-term grade: A-

Third quarter grade: A-

Bradie James went out a high note for his stellar career and got good support from his surrounding cast. Jeremy Lawrence was very instrumental in negating the option attempts of Alabama and Arakansas, while Lionel Turner was coming on strong as a run stopper and pass rusher until injuring his elbow against the Crimson Tide.

The Tigers will be hard-pressed to find a replacement for James, but the future looks good for Vaughn who had to play right away as a true freshman.

Fourth quarter grade: B+

Final grade: A-



Mid-term grade: B

Third quarter grade: B

Like the defensive line, the LSU secondary endured its fair share of aches and pains late in the year. Demetrius Hookfin played with an ankle sprain while Randall Gay dealt with a shoulder injury.

The turmoil following Damien James' departure diminished significantly thanks to the steady play of Jack Hunt, and strong safety Norman LeJeune gave Bradie James a run for his money as the team's top playmaker on defense.

Teams respected the LSU secondary as the year went on, and those who didn't were often victimized by the likes of Hookfin and Corey Webster.

The breakdown late against Arkansas hurt the secondary's fourth quarter grade but not enough to affect their final mark. 

Fourth quarter grade: B-

Final grade: B



Mid-term grade: B

Third quarter grade: B

Some of the aforementioned injuries took the steam out of the Tigers' return units, but the LSU coverage teams stayed true to their stingy nature. Domanick Davis wasn't able to make the big impact he would have liked with his return ability on punts because attrition affected the players on the edge who make the first crucial blocks on the opposing gunners.

John Corbello certainly went out with a flourish on field goals, while Donnie Jones was fair on his punting chances.

While the Tigers may not have gotten the big plays they wanted from special teams, they were certainly not a liability in 2002.

Fourth quarter grade: C

Final Grade: B

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