Grades are in

Saturday's showdown with Alabama will go down as one of the most exciting games in Tiger Stadium history for several reasons. Most will still remember it for the return of Nick Saban, but others will put that behind them and take it for what it was – A great college football game.

The Tigers squandered several opportunities to win the game with costly turnovers and miscues, but there was some improvement made in several areas.

 

The defense stepped up and played its most complete effort of the year. The troops were not just physically but also mentally prepared, avoiding blown assignments at the alarming rate they had been seen throughout much of the season.

 

The offensive woes continued, however, and will likely be there until the bowl game or next spring.

 

After reviewing the film here is our take on what we saw on Saturday.

 

Quarterbacks

 

Earlier in the season, one could say that Jarrett Lee's mistakes are those that a freshman quarterback playing in the Southeastern Conference is going to make.

However, after nine games and the amount of big-game experience he has, Lee should not be making those mistakes as often.

 

In the last five games, which granted have been against good competition with the exception of Tulane, the redshirt freshman has been picked off 11 times and is averaging a pick-six a game. Over that same span he has tossed only seven touchdown passes, and the interceptions have killed the Tigers.

 

Three of the four picks against Alabama were on him, but he didn't get a lot of help from his receivers as they dropped several passes that could have helped the youngster with his confidence.

 

Lee was very good on the drive that tied the score at 21 when he hit on 4-of-5 for 58 yards. He made some big throws rolling out to his right and kept the Tigers in the game at that point.

 

But the pick in overtime was a throw that should have never been made. You throw the ball away, kick a field goal and then play defense.

 

Going 13-of-34 for 181 yards with four interceptions and a touchdown isn't giving your team a chance to win 99 percent of the time.

 

Grade: F

 

Running Backs

 

Charles Scott and Keiland Williams did everything they could on Saturday, running hard against a physical Alabama defense that was ranked No. 2 in the country against the run.

 

Scott ran for 99 yards and two scores on 24 carries, while Williams had his best performance of the year with 88 yards on 13 carries.

 

Williams made some nice cuts and used his vision several times to find the hole rather than just running where he thought the hole would be.

 

The Bama defense buckled down in the second half and held the Tigers to only 47 yards, but the 201 total was the most Bama had yielded all season.

 

Grade: A

 

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

 

Too many dropped passes at critical times hurt the Tigers.

 

Demetrius Byrd took a big lick on LSU's first drive and the ball popped out into the arms of Rashad Johnson for his first of three picks on the day. Byrd got nailed, but he still should have made the grab. He made amends on the 30-yard touchdown reception, but his other three catches were for only 21 yards.

 

Chris Mitchell had a deep ball go off of his fingertips that he should have caught as well. The pass may have been a tad-bit overthrown, but not enough to warrant any blame on Jarrett Lee, whatsoever.

 

Brandon LaFell didn't come alive until the second half, seeing three of his four grabs came past the midway point of the third quarter. His fourth and final catch came on a big 24-yard completion on LSU's final scoring drive, but he has to make his presence known in the first half.

 

The highlight of the receiving corps was Terrance Toliver and his three catches for 34 yards, all of them coming on the drive that tied the game at 21.

 

Maybe this was Toliver's coming out party and he is going to give the Tigers a third wide out because one has been missing all season.

 

Grade: C

 

Offensive Line

 

The line opened up some nice holes in the first half, but injuries were a problem in the second half. Ryan Miller had to take over at center when Brett Helms went out and then Ernest McCoy got some snaps for Ciron Black, while Josh Dworaczyk had to spell Herman Johnson at right guard.

 

It was valuable experience for two guys that could be starters next season if Black goes pro, but you want them to get that experience against the Tulane's and Troy's of the world and not the top-ranked team in the country.

 

Pass protection was pretty solid as Bama had only one sack and was not credited with any hurries, but Lee was nailed just as he threw the ball on his third pick by a blitzing Ali Sharrief.

 

Grade: B+

 

Defensive Line

 

The D-line played very good against the run, but the lack of pressure on John Parker Wilson made it tough on LSU's secondary.

 

Kirston Pittman has been a disappointment this season after last year's showing, while Rahim Alem has been the most consistent man in the trenches all year. His six tackles were third on the team and he lined up against a future NFL 1st round pick in Andre Smith. Alem gave Smith fits on several plays and has been a pleasant surprise on a unit that has underperformed all year.

 

The push inside was there on some occasions, but the play of the tackles has been less than stellar all year. Give Ricky Jean-Francois credit for blocking the field goal to send it into overtime, but it's pretty obvious he is still having problems with his groin.

 

Grade: B+

 

Linebackers

 

Darry Beckwith, Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley played their best as a unit.

 

Sheppard led the Tigers with 10 tackles and was outstanding minus the personal foul facemask call late in the game and then the big pass completion where the tight end was uncovered.

 

This group played well against the run and Beckwith (6 tackles) looked as if he had a little extra juice out there.

 

Grade: B+

 

Secondary

 

Julio Jones (7-128) showed why he is a future lottery pick in the NFL draft and was just too physical for LSU's corners, particularly when they play bump and run, but don't bump.

 

Patrick Peterson picked off his first pass as a Tiger, playing the ball perfectly and using the sideline as an extra defender.

 

Chris Hawkins was solid according to Les Miles and has been the most consistent cover guy in the defensive backfield.

 

Danny McCray was in on eight tackles playing for an injured Curtis Taylor at free safety and showed some promise once he gets used to playing the position. He was confused on more than one occasion and looking for help.

 

The lack of pressure made it tough for the secondary to contain Julio Jones, who was Bama's only real threat on the outside.

 

Chad Jones' touchdown saving forced fumble may be the play that kept LSU in the game because a Bama touchdown on the opening drive would have changed the complexion of the game and possibly taken the crowd out of it early.

 

Grade: B

 

Special Teams 

 

There were some poor punts off the foot of Brady Dalfrey, but he did recover and pin Bama back after a shaky beginning.

 

The missed field goal by Colt David was huge. Just how big it was no one will know, but it could have been the difference in the game.

 

LSU has too much speed and athleticism to get such poor production from the return game, but Chad Jones did have a nice 19-yard punt return.

 

Ron Brooks' forced fumble on the kickoff allowed LSU to jump out to an early lead, while Ryan Baker continues to be a special teams' demon.

 

Grade: C


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