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10/27/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Well, I’m finally getting my voice back after Saturday night’s electrifying 10-7 win over Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium. Man, what a game! I’ve been talking to a lot of folks who made it out to Tiger Stadium, and the general consensus is that it was one of the most exciting games in several years, and certainly the loudest. The only time I remember the stadium reaching a comparable noise level was the Florida game in 1997 when LSU upset the top-ranked Gators, 28-21. Of course on that night, the attendance was 80,877. This last Saturday, Tiger Stadiums’ published attendance figure was 102,321.
After the big win, LSU vaulted in the weekly polls by climbing six spots in the coaches poll to No. 17 and eight spots in the AP to No. 16. In both polls, LSU is the highest-ranked two-loss team, as it should be considering LSU’s two losses are to No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 4 Auburn. The Tigers will have a chance to catapult themselves even higher in the polls and even more squarely into the SEC West race in two weeks when they host Alabama, who came in at No. 3 in both of this week’s polls.
As we’ve done each Monday, today’s let’s review a few things that stood out in the big win that weren’t neccessarily covered in yesterday’s postgame report. Again, I want to thank my friend Jake Martin for his work on this feature and for taking time on his busy Sunday afternoon to re-watch the game and note these observations.
Monday Morning Rewind
Reviewing the Ole Miss game was by far the most fun we’ve had studying film this season, and you can credit dominance in the trenches and timely play-calling for that. Jumping right into it, I want to point out both of those on one offensive series and one defensive series.
The offensive series I’m referring to is the 95-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. After dialing up zone read runs, power runs and pulling plays with Ethan Pocic throughout the game, the Tigers started this drive with a draw to Kenny Hilliard, which sprung loose for a first down. The draw was out of the I-formation and caught the Rebels off-guard, who looked to be expecting another power run behind a pulling Pocic. The very next play, the Tigers dialed up a pitch to the outside, which offered more variety and space for La’el Collins, Vadal Alexander and one of the offensive MVPs of the game – Connor Neighbors – to seal off the edge and clear space for Hilliard to bust for another nice gain. A fullback dive gave LSU a first down, and now suddenly the Tigers had all the momentum, had Ole Miss on its heels, and were closing near midfield. The ensuing play was another run with Hilliard, who electrified the crowd with broken tackles and got the LSU bench going in a flurry, as LSU neared the Ole Miss 40. Again, Collins sealed off the edge, dominating the line of scrimmage. As LSU averaged just under five yards per carry, this was a direct theme of the night. The Tigers went on to score after some nice runs by Leonard Fournette, who punished Cody Prewitt inside the red zone with one of his best runs of the game. Fournette showed even more patience in the win, waiting for the offensive line to create creases for him to power through. Twice on the Tigers’ scoring drive, Fournette meticulously picked an opening to accelerate through. This is yet another sign that Fournette is becoming big-time, in case anyone is still wondering. All of these runs set up another great play call, which placed Logan Stokes, a blocking tight end, in a position to fake a block and run wide open in the end zone on an unsuspecting touchdown pass. The Tigers’ scoring drive offered a lot of variety in the running game, which was important because although Ole Miss knew what was coming, the Tigers didn’t reveal where and how their next run would be, setting the table for LSU’s running backs to feed on a weakened, tired defense.
Now, how did we get to this point? Well, more great play-calling. Throughout the game, LSU dialed up play-action on first down, used a quick-snap offense that huddled near the ball and turned around to snap it against an unsuspecting Ole Miss, and designed check-down passes to Terrence Magee and other backs, who made plays in open space. What this did was stick to LSU’s ground-and-pound formula, but added wrinkles, and here’s that word again – variety – to offer Ole Miss another thing to think about defensively. Though the offensive line and Neighbors deserve most of the credit, you have to give Anthony Jennings a lot of credit, as well, for the presence he showed in the pocket. Besides making some nice throws to Trey Quinn, Travin Dural and Leonard Fournette, Jennings’ biggest play of the game came on a third down conversion on LSU’s field goal drive. Deep in their own territory, the Tigers faced a third down, and if it wasn’t for Jennings side-stepping a defender in the pocket and hitting Magee for a first down conversion, three points would have been taken off of the board. Obviously, Jennings still has some work to do, but there’s no doubt he is improving. The worse thing he did Saturday night was throw two interceptions, but both occurred on third downs and weren’t huge factors.
Alright, now, moving on to the defensive series I mentioned earlier. By far, the best defensive series of the season came after a shanked LSU punt in the third quarter, setting Ole Miss up inside LSU’s 35-yard line. In what could have been a scoring drive that launched an Ole Miss win, the Tigers’ defense took points off the board. Quentin Thomas, who played great along with Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture on the interior, dropped an Ole Miss running back for a loss on a trick play. The ensuing play saw Kendell Beckwith perfectly time his blitz are the blocking and drop Bo Wallace for a loss in the backfield, setting up a 3rd-and-long. Beckwith played his best game to date, playing aggressively and letting his instincts and athleticism take over. In games past, Beckwith would have multiple whiffs for getting too aggressive, but he looked much more relaxed and poised against Ole Miss. On the 3rd-and-long attempt, the Tigers sent the house, and Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter were credited with a sack. Ole Miss lost nine yards on that series because of LSU’s ability to generate pressure and John Chavis’ knack for calling timely blitzes.
The Tigers played a lot of nickel packages and even showed an odd front some in the victory. On rare occasions, Chavis got tricky, showing five down linemen and using twist stunts (one player stunts to the outside, while another player stunts inward, one following behind the other) to send Beckwith to cause pressure in the backfield, disrupting Ole Miss’ seemingly always moving backfield. Chief dialed up some complicated blitzes that mostly resulted in negative rushing plays for Ole Miss, culminating in just 137 rushing yards for the Rebels.
Beckwith, Hunter, Rasco, Godchaux and Tre’Davious White deserve to be singled out for their performances in the win. Beckwith played like an All-SEC linebacker, Hunter and Rasco used their athleticism and long arms to bat down balls, Godchaux was winning battles upfront against offensive guards throughout the night, and White was an equalizer against a very talented Ole Miss receiving corps. The single best thing I caught on tape last night was the body language of Fahn Cooper who moved to Laremy Tunsil’s spot after Tunsil suffered an injury in the second half. Cooper had to block Hunter, who immediately proved why he’s one of the best defensive ends in college football. Hunter used quickness and hands to get separation and make a tackle at the line of scrimmage, and then two plays later he ended the drive by making the tackle on a designed screen play. Frustrated, Cooper shook his head, almost in disbelief at the athleticism of Hunter.
In recruiting news, LSU picked up a commitment Saturday from kicker Jack Gonsoulin of Catholic High School. I’ve heard from many who tell me Gonsoulin is a great young man with a leg capable of kicking of nailing 55-60 yard field goals. One thing you’ve got to say about Coach Les Miles is that although landing specialists doesn’t boost your team recruiting rankings, he doesn’t skimp on recruiting them, and that has paid big dividends for the Tigers. Welcome aboard, Gonsoulin! With Gonsoulin’s verbal, LSU now has 16 commitments for the class of 2015.
Before closing out, I want to announce that we’ve processed all of the Week 8 picks in our Louisiana High School Pickem and this week’s winner is, once again, user MMR (Mr. Bob Register of Logansport, LA). You might recall that Mr. Register won in weeks 2 and 5 also. With this week’s win, Mr. Register is now at the top of the leaderboard for “All-Weeks” with “CoachMJ” and “Mt Mike” close behind. Looks like this competition will come down to the wire. Please note that if you haven’t yet signed up to play, it’s not too late as we’ll be naming a winner each week. Voting for Week 9’s games is now open.
A few miscellaneous tidbits in closing:
• My ol’ college buddy, Judd Jeansonne, and I had a great time on campus Saturday and I’d like to thank a couple of folks for the hospitality they showed us. First, thanks to Dan Worstell and Tommy Means of GeauxRoof.com for allowing us to park at their place and partake in their awesome tailgate. Geaux Roof is a residential and commercial roofing company, and I I recently had them put a new roof on my home in Lafayette (Youngsville, actually). They did a great job and I recommend them without hesitation for any of you in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas who need roofing. Second, I’d like to thank longtime readers Lamon Miller and Wayne Breaux for inviting us to stop by their tailgate and for sharing some wonderful food and drinks (and even a mighty fine cigar)!
• A DandyDon reader by the name of Andy Holt of Belmont, Mississippi sent me this Eye of the Tiger Halloween Jack-o-lantern that you’ve got to see. It was just too good for me not to share! Andy is proudly displaying his in enemy territory after Saturday’s game. I’ve added his pics to our Media Gallery’s Lagniappe section. (Click thumbnails for larger version.)
• Last but not least, I want to point out that I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange later today. I have a bunch of new listings to add, including several for the big Bama game.
10/26/14 6:10 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Whoa! The Fighting Tigers of LSU came away with one of its biggest wins in recent program history by defeating the 3rd ranked Ole Miss Rebels 10-7 in what was the most enjoyable game I’ve witnessed in quite some time. If you would have told me that LSU would fumble on the goal line, have two interceptions, drop three potential interceptions and miss a chip shot field goal, I would have said there’s no way the Tigers would come out ahead against a very good Ole Miss team. Yet, LSU overcame all of that and more by playing stifling defense, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and pounding away with its physical stable of running backs. This was classic LSU football at its best, and I loved every minute of it!
Before going any further, I want to extend my sincere condolences to Coach Les Miles for the loss of his mother. As most of you know by now, Coach Miles’ mother passed away Friday night. I know how difficult it must have been for Miles to remain focused and work through such an emotional time, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Now back to the game… LSU’s defense was simply outstanding. Ole Miss entered the game averaging 35 points per game and 433 yards of total offense, but LSU was able to hold them to just one first quarter touchdown and a total of 313 yards. In the second half, the Tigers’ defense forced four consecutive three-and-outs and completely shutdown the Rebels until their last desperation drive which ended in an interception at the two-yard line. Kendell Beckwith led all Tigers in tackles with 10, while Danielle Hunter, Jermauria Rasco and Kwon Alexander also had big nights. I seem to remember at least three passes that Rasco batted down, and he was pressuring Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace all night long.
When you stop to think about it, isn’t it amazing how far this LSU defense has come since surrendering 41 points to Auburn just three weeks ago? In the last two games, the Tigers have allowed only 10 combined points to two teams that were averaging a combined 71.9 points per game. Chew on that for a bit.
As for LSU’s offense, it rushed for 264 yards against a Rebel defense that entered the contest allowing 97 rushing yards per game. Leonard Fournette ran hard and led the Tigers’ rushing attack with 113 yards on 23 carries, marking his third career game with over 100 rushing yards. He also added 41 receiving yards to go along with 57 yards on kickoff returns for a total of 211 allâpurpose yards. Terrance Magee had a big night and ran for 75 yards on 12 carries despite sitting out most of the second half with a knee injury. (As of now, I do not know the extent of Magee’s injury.) Kenny Hilliard, who entered the game with fresh legs late in the third quarter, was also impressive and ended up accounting for 64 yards on 12 carries. On LSU’s last scoring drive in which the Tigers drove 95 yards, Hilliard accounted for 47 of the yards. As long as the Tigers can rush the ball like they did last night, they can compete favorably against any team in the country, including Alabama in two weeks.
While the passing game didn’t produce pretty numbers, it was just enough to keep the Rebels from consistently stacking the box, and it appears that’s about all the staff is asking of LSU’s passing game at this point. Jennings ended the night 8-of-16 for 142 yards, two interceptions and one TD. Trey Quinn, Terrence Magee and Leonard Fournette each had two catches, while Travin Dural had one. The most exciting catch of the night, and the most unexpected, was tight end Logan Stokes’ go ahead touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter. It was Stokes’ first career reception as a Tiger, and man was it a big one.
We’ll have much more on the game in tomorrow’s report, but for now I’ll leave you with these video highlights, the stats below, and a few final thoughts: Just three weeks ago many people were counting out our Tigers. After the Auburn game, I heard from countless readers who were convinced that LSU would not win another SEC game all year. Now the Tigers are 7-2, showing steady improvement each game, and have a chance to make this year a very special one. The game in two weeks against the Crimson Tide will be another epic contest in Tiger Stadium, and I say bring it on! It’s a great time to be a Tiger!
Reader Comments: Scott, be sure to share these unforgettable images from LSU’s win. As Miles said, Tiger Stadium was electric! No place like it in all of college football!
10/25/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!
LSU will be in the college football spotlight today as the No. 23/24 Tigers host the third-ranked and undefeated Ole Miss Rebels at 6:21 CT in Tiger Stadium in a key SEC West contest between longtime rivals. The game will be televised on ESPN, and LSU is expecting the largest crowd in school history in the newly–expanded Tiger Stadium. Not only will ESPN be televising the game, they’ll also be airing their popular GameDay show live from the LSU Parade Grounds starting at 8:00 this morning, so I hope that many of you will head out there to represent the Tiger Nation shortly after reading this report with your second cup of coffee. It should be a great day, and I look forward to making it out there to enjoy the festivities. Since I’ll be watching the game from my normal South End Zone seats, I won’t be doing my usual tweeting for tonight’s game, but I look forward to giving you a full report in the morning.
I’m sure you don’t need any help getting pumped up for a game like this one, but just in case here’s a great new LesMiles.net LSU hype video that will do the trick!
My five keys to an LSU victory:
Start fast, keep crowd in the game
At the opening kickoff, Tiger Stadium will be rocking with its largest crowd in school history. The noise level will be off the charts, and the excitement will be sky-high. For the Tigers to make the most of this huge home field advantage, they must get off to a fast start like they did against Kentucky and keep the crowd in the game. Considering LSU’s struggles in the passing game and Ole Miss’ outstanding secondary, I suspect the Tigers would have a hard time battling back from a big deficit late in this game.
Establish the run
Some fans will cringe when they read this, but this LSU team (like every Les Miles’ Tiger team) is most effective when it pounds the rock over and over to the point of wearing out a defense. This approach didn’t work against Auburn and Mississippi State, but LSU’s offensive line and its stable of four talented running backs are playing much better now. Look for LSU to employ this strategy with success, but only if they can throw the ball enough to avoid being overly predictable, and avoid facing eight or nine men in the box.
Avoid obvious throwing situations
Building on that last key, LSU can’t afford to always run on first and second down and then be faced with an obvious passing situation on third-and-long. In his midweek radio show, Les Miles implied that they will dial up a passing play about 50% of the time on first down unless they are in need of running out the clock, and I hope that’s the case.
Pressure Bo Wallace
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is known to be somewhat erratic. Although there’s been much more of “Good Bo” than “Bad Bo,” I can’t help but believe that if LSU is able to keep Wallace uncomfortable by bringing the heat from the edge with Jamal Adams and Danielle Hunter, good things will happen for LSU.
Come out on top in turnovers and hidden yards
Ole Miss leads the SEC in turnovers and has 15 interceptions on the year. Against Alabama, A&M, and Tennessee, the Rebels benefited from a combined turnover ratio of 9-1. The Tigers simply can’t afford to be on the losing end of the turnover margin in today’s game. Like turnovers, hidden yards generated by special teams could be very significant today. (Think punt returns, field position, etc.). Last week LSU’s special teams were outstanding, and if Coach Bradley Dale Peveto can get similar production from his units in this contest, it might very well be the difference in the game.
In recruiting news, several players already committed to LSU and several key targets for 2015 and 2016 will be visiting for tonight’s game. For a list of expected attendees, see this thorough list by my friend Jimmy Smith of nola.com. The only thing I have to add to Smith’s list is that Jerry Tillery (OL, 6-6, 315, Evangel, No. 4 on our list of Top LA Prospects), who is currently committed to Notre Dame, will actually be taking his official visit to LSU today. And the even better news is that he’s planning to come back in two weeks for the Bama game.
Another interesting development in recruiting is that linebacker Adonis Thomas (6-3, 230, Lawrenceville, GA ) has de-committed from Florida and has said he’s now considering LSU and Alabama in addition to the Gators. With linebacker being a big priority in this year’s LSU recruiting class, that is certainly good news.
In basketball news, as expected, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved a two-year contract extension and pay raise for LSU Coach Johnny Jones in yesterday’s meeting. The two-year extension means that Jones’ contract now extends through the 2019 season and his salary will go up $400,000 in the TV/Multimedia/Radio portion of his contact to bring his total compensation to $1.5 million. There is no change in any of the bonus agreements set up in the original contract and the buyouts remain as stated in the original contract. Here’s what Vice-Chancellor/Director of Athletics Joe Alleva had to say about Jones via a press release issued by LSU yesterday: “Johnny has our men’s basketball program heading in the right direction. On the court, his up-tempo style and the energy in which his teams play is something that is appealing to our fans and is attractive to recruits. Off the floor, Johnny and his staff have done a great job of making academics and community involvement a priority. We look forward to having Coach Jones lead our men’s basketball team for many years to come.”
Lastly, there were some great LA prep football games played last night and you can check out the scores in our statewide scoreboard. Once tonight’s games are done and the remaining scores are entered, we’ll process the picks and name the Week 7 winner in our Louisiana High School Football Pickem.
Reader Comments: Scott: I subscribe to Sports Illustrated and they just sent me this article that I thought you and our fellow LSU fans might enjoy: Stadium Spotlight: When LSU's Tiger Stadium was literally home
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