The Tigers had two weeks to prepare for South Carolina and they responded by playing the type of football that most expected. They got above average quarterback play out of Jarrett Lee; good production from the running game; and aggressive play from a defense that made some mistakes, but overcame them by creating turnovers.
Those three key elements that led LSU to victory on the road in Columbia, however, were non-existent this past Saturday and the end result was another devastating loss. But this time it was at home and this time it may have knocked the Tigers out of contention for a western division title.
After going back and looking at the film on Sunday, here are some thoughts on what took place in Tiger Stadium over the weekend.
At some point, I’m going to have to come up with a different critique on Jarrett Lee, but it’s the same old song and dance. He makes it too easy for defenders to make plays because all they have to do is follow his eyes and he leads them to the ball. The kid is young and all young signal-callers make mistakes, but the key is to learn from them. In saying that, I still feel like Lee can be the long-term solution at quarterback once the light comes on. The coaches can handle him throwing one pick for six. And they can probably handle him throwing another one in the same game. But when you throw your second one, you have to at least attempt to make the tackle.
Charles Scott’s 144 yards was more than Georgia’s defense had allowed any team on the year. The 4.6 yards a carry was also the most Georgia had allowed all season. Scott set the tone early by gaining 41 yards on five carries on the opening drive. He ran hard between the tackles and flashed some speed on the 42-yard run, but just not enough as he was dragged down at the 1-yard line. Any other day and Scott’s performance would have been the talk of the town. Unfortunately though, he wasn’t the best back on the field that day and was overshadowed by the spectacular performance by Knowshon Moreno (21-163-1).
Receivers and Tight Ends
When the ball got to the receivers they made plays the majority of the time but Brandon LaFell had a big drop on 2nd and 4 at the LSU 38. That could have given the Tigers a first down and kept the drive going, trailing 31-17. LSU eventually got the first down on a fake punt, but a missed field goal by Colt David, and a 68-yard touchdown run by Moreno on the first play from scrimmage put the game out of reach. LaFell (3-62-2), Demetrius Byrd (4-62), and Richard Dickson (3-41) are making some plays, but a third receiver has yet to step up.
There were some big holes for Scott and company to run through and the pass protection was good. Andrew Hatch was sacked a couple of times, but one was on as blatant of an intentional grounding that I’ve ever seen. Georgia’s defense averaged nearly 17 quarterback hurries coming into the game and the line did a good job of keeping the heat off the quarterbacks. The Dawgs’ “D” had only three hurries on the day and the LSU run game averaged 4.6 yards a pop. The only problem was that when LSU needed a big play there were defenders getting through with too much ease.
For LSU to beat Georgia, the Tigers had to get pressure on Matthew Stafford. One sack and no hurries will not get the job done against a mediocre quarterback, much less one who looked like a future NFL starter. Rahim Alem had another good game with four tackles including two for loss, and a sack. His energy and enthusiasm is what you want to see from the guys up front. There should have been a better push from the inside guys against Georgia’s youthful front, but that has been the story for much of the year.
How many times will we see guys underneath, running free and picking up 40 yards? Or plays where there is no linebacker in sight? We knew there would be some growing pains, but the trio of Darry Beckwith, Perry Riley, and Kelvin Sheppard has more speed and more athleticism than last season’s group. Poor angles, missed tackles, and blown assignments have plagued the linebackers all season.
Patrick Peterson had some nice plays where he showed why he was the No. 1 cornerback in the country coming out of high school. Then he had some that made everyone remember that he was a true freshman. One of the many big plays that cost the Tigers on Saturday was the poor angle he took while blitzing Stafford on the 49-yard TD strike to A.J. Green where Jai Eugene got beat one-on-one. Georgia’s duo of Green and Mohamed Massaquoi are as good a tandem as you’ll find. LSU has to get better play from the safeties in pass coverage. Their strength is playing the run, but they didn’t do a very good job on Saturday. This could have been an “F”, but the defensive line has to shoulder some of the blame for the pass defense.
Les Miles and his staff rolled the dice again and were successful on Josh Jasper’s fake punt and they set it up beautifully. Jasper got some decent distance and hang time with his kickoffs and give Colt David props for becoming LSU’s all-time leading scorer with his 51-yard field goal in the second quarter. Punting was good overall and coverage was good with the exception of one kickoff return.