Grades are in

LSU won for the 17th consecutive time against Tulane on Saturday, but it wasn't exactly picture perfect. In fact it was far from it. The Tigers' offense could not find any consistency with the passing game, but the running game saved the day.

Vanilla was the flavor of the day with the LSU offense because the coaches did not want to show much to the Alabama coaching staff?


Or was it to avoid costly mistakes by a young quarterback who has been taking a beating lately?


Regardless of the reasoning, the passing game struggled once again and Jarrett Lee threw his fifth pick-six of the season and third in the last two games. Add in the booing from the fans and you have a young signal caller that has to be hurting and it could not be at a worse time.


Nick Saban is going to show Lee more blitzes and disguises than he has seen this year so if there was ever a time to speed up a maturation process then its now.


LSU dominated the opening drive like one would expect by going 86 yards in eight plays capped off by Charles Scott’s only touchdown.


If not for a scoop and score by Chris Hawkins on Rahim Alem’s forced fumble then the Tigers lead only 14-3 at the half.


The 21-3 halftime score probably saved the Tigers from getting booed by the student section as they went into the locker room at the break because the boo birds were circling the stadium and looking for a reason to attack.


An 8-play, 61-yard drive to open the second half gave the Tigers a 28-3 cushion, but if Ross Thevenot connects on a 31-yard field goal after the Greenies had the ball for 5:47 then the score is much closer after Travis Burks’ 43-yard interception return for a score.


The defense played good against a completely outmanned offense that managed only 163 yards of offense (91 passing and 72 rushing).


However, too much confusion and late substitutions overshadowed the effort on that side of the ball.


LSU is trying to match up with the opposition’s offensive package but maybe it’s time to say here is our 11 guys and let’s go with them unless it is an obvious short or long yardage situation.


The calls are still coming in late and players are scrambling around and out of position before the ball is even snapped.


In what was supposed to be a game where the offense and defense got untracked, the result was what the coaches wanted but the body of work was far from it.





Jarrett Lee was 8-of-20 for 99 yards with a touchdown to Brandon LaFell where he showed a glimpse of the passer he can be. Lee stood tall and rifled in a pass to LaFell where he was the only person who had a chance to make the grab.


However, the pick for six combined with dropping a ball for a big loss are mistakes that will kill the Tigers’ chances this coming Saturday.


Sure, the play-calling was very bland and did not have much spice to it on Saturday, but Lee looked like a quarterback that has no confidence.


And that was before the boo birds came out after he threw another interception that went the other way for six points.


Grade: F



Running Backs


Charles Scott’s 84 yards rushing on the opening drive was impressive as was the team’s total of 231 yards on 46 plays (5.0 avg.).


It was good to see Keiland Williams (13-51-1) and Richard Murphy (12-54) play up to their potential, but how about Stevan Ridley?


Ridley ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on five carries against Tulane’s backups, but the quickness and burst he showed was impressive.


Grade: A



Receivers and Tight Ends


Brandon LaFell (3-48-1) shows flashes where he looks like one of the top wide outs in the conference, but consistency has been an issue the last few weeks.


Demetrius Byrd (1-10) has not done anything to help his draft stock this year either.


The receivers do a good job of blocking, but the little things are killing them. These guys were taught a long time ago to use their hands to catch the ball and not let it get into their pads, as well as how to square their routes off and to go get the ball instead of waiting on it.


LSU is going to need some big plays to beat Bama and someone is going to have make one in this group.


Grade: B-



Offensive Line


There were some big holes for Charles Scott and company to run through, but the Greenies got a little more pressure on Jarrett Lee than they should have been able to get with a pair of sacks.


A few penalties prevented this grade from being higher.


Grade B+



Defensive Line


It may have been Tulane, but the D-linemen played as well as they have as a group in some time.


Kirston Pittman led the Tigers with eight tackles and logged a sack off the edge, and Rahim Alem added his sixth sack of the season.  


Tyson Jackson has played well since the Mississippi State game and has been fairly consistent, but not dominating enough to be a first-round draft pick like some have suggested.


The inside guys did an okay job of bottling things up but that should be expected against the level of competition they were going up against.


This group has underachieved in a big way this season and will need a huge game this Saturday.


Grade: B





There aren’t enough plays being made from the linebackers and there isn’t much else to say.


Les Miles said that players are trying to make the big play and that has led to some of the breakdowns and busts, but these guys are just not getting to the ball as quickly as they did last season and they look slow and hesitant.


Grade: C-





Perhaps one of the most alarming things I see on the defense is that the corners are still not pressing the receivers off the line in bump-and-run coverage.


They immediately turn and run instead of jamming receivers. That may not be their fault because that’s the way that Doug Mallory wants them to play, but it is a huge advantage for the offense any way you slice it.


Patrick Peterson looks as if he is getting more comfortable and Chris Hawkins has been steady.


The safeties look like they are wearing down in pass coverage and aren’t making many plays outside of run support.


Grade: B



Special Teams


Brady Dalfrey (46.5 avg.) has been a pleasant surprise and Josh Jasper has gotten better as the season has gone with his kickoffs, although consistency is still something he is working on.


Tulane did not give LSU much of an opportunity to return kickoffs and Trindon Holliday is running too much east-west.


Grade: B+

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