My Take – Game 4 vs. West Virginia – All About The Defense and Special Teams

The LSU Tigers hosted West Virginia in front of a packed Tiger Stadium (92,575). The game was a night game televised on ESPN. LSU was able to improve to 26-1 in Saturday night home games under Les Miles. The only loss coming in 2009 to Florida. LSU also extended its nation-leading winning streak to 31 games over non-conference opponents in the regular season, and LSU also won its 29th-straight non-conference game in Tiger Stadium, dating back to 2000 when LSU lost to UAB, 13-10. 

The Game

 LSU won 20-14, and once again it was all about the defense and special teams. LSU was able to win with superior special teams and a swarming defense. LSU held a West Virginia offense that was averaging over 400 yards per game to a total of 177 yards. Of the 177 yards, only 58 yards were gained rushing. The special teams unit was able to step up and carry the load for the offense. Patrick Peterson’s punt return and Josh Jasper’s two field goals accounted for 13 of the 20 points that LSU scored. The one touchdown that LSU’s offense scored came after a Tyrann Mathieu fumble recovery inside the red zone during the 1st quarter. Steven Ridley plunged into the endzone on 4th and goal from the 1. The 20 points was all the defense needed to secure victory and a 4-0 start.  

The Good

1. The defense. LSU has a top 5 defense in the country. I don’t think West Virginia would disagree. They held WVU to 2 yards per rush. Geno Smith connected on less than 50% of his passes. The two scores they gave up were gift wrapped by penalties(1st score) and Jefferson’s thrown interception (2nd score).

2. Special teams: A.) Josh Jasper was 2 for 2 on field goals. He is now 9 for 10 on the season. For his career he is 6 for 8 from 40 yards or more and 3 for 4 from 50 yards or more. He is definitely one of the top weapons on the LSU team. B.) Patrick Peterson had a 60 yard punt return touchdown in the 2nd quarter. He now has two punt return touchdowns this season. He will tie Skyler Green(2002-2005) for the LSU career punt return touchdowns record if he gets two more this season. If he gets one more, then he will tie Pinky Rohm(1937) for the most punt return touchdowns in a season. I just hope that teams continue to kick to him.

3. Steven Ridley running the ball. He continues to run hard and hit the hole. He gained 116 yards on 20 carries and had 1 TD. He is averaging over 100 yards per game and ranks in the top 3 in the SEC.

4. Tyrann Mathieu: He had a fumble recovery and an interception. He continues to make his case for SEC 1st Team All -Freshman and he is making a strong case for SEC Freshman of the year. It’s still early but if he continues to play like this he will definitely be in the conversation with guys like Trey Burton, Michael Dyer, and Marcus Lattimore. I know recruiting services are definitely questioning the low rating that they gave him. He is easily a top 3 cornerback for the 2010 class, and the #1 player out of the state of Louisiana, although most services rated him in the 6-10 range.

5. The linebackers were great Saturday night. Kelvin Sheppard and Ryan Baker combined for 19 tackles.

6. The secondary had 8 pass break ups.

 The Bad

1. The passing offense. I know this is like beating a dead horse, but this area is the only area that is preventing LSU from being a top 5 team in the country. Who’s at fault? Crowton, Miles, or Jefferson? Or is it a combination of all three?

2. Jordan Jefferson – Not only is Jordan Jefferson not improving, but he is getting worse. I’m not sure how that happens with proper coaching. Maybe it’s a mind thing with him. All I know is that I would prefer the 2009 Jordan Jefferson at this point. The running game and offensive line are much improved from last year. Still no passing game!

3. Fans booing and leaving early. This is college and not the NFL. These kids are not being paid and they are not intentionally messing up. They are devoting their time and hard work to represent LSU each Saturday. I know it’s frustrating watching the team we have all grown to love struggle on offense. Just keep in mind that LSU is 4-0 and there are some fans of other teams that would love to be 4-0 right now. Things could be worse. Now onto leaving early. This is my take: We owe it to the seniors(9 on scholarship), that great defense, and the potential Heisman candidate to stay around and cheer them on the entire game. Not to mention that the offense needs the crowd support more than ever. It’s like life. We need the most support when things are down and we are struggling.

4. Terrence Toliver continues to drop balls. Sure looks like Reuben Randle is our best WR.

5. Russell Shepard is not getting enough touches in space.

6. Way too many penalties (12 for 120). That is unacceptable!

7. Joseph Barksdale making rookie mistakes with two pre-snap penalties.

8. Lamin Barrow’s 2nd late hit of the season.

9. Patrick Peterson’s Heisman pose. Just a little premature. Run one back to seal the deal against Florida and/or Alabama and then you can pose all you want. It will definitely be worth the 15 yards.

The Coaching

I will keep this short this week. Every position seems to be improved from last year and getting better from week to week, except one. It’s also hard to gage the WR’s because the passing game is so bad. I have noticed that our WR’s are blocking very good and running crisp routes. They are dropping passes though. Toliver, Randle, and Shepard all have multiple drops on the season.

The Turning Point

1. Forced fumble by Sam Montgomery that Tyrann Mathieu recovered inside the red zone.

2.      Patrick Peterson’s 60 yard punt return TD in the 2nd quarter.

 Game Balls

*Offense: 1. Steven Ridley – 20 carries for 116 yards and 1 TD

*Defense: 1. Kelvin Sheppard – 11 tackles

*Special Teams: 1. Patrick Peterson – 2 punts returns for 86 and 1 TD for 60 yards

*Newcomer: 1. Tyrann “Tyrannosaurus Wrecks” Mathieu – A fumble recovery and an interception.

*Coach: 1. Coach John “The Chief” Chavis – The defense goes hard!!!

Stat of the Week

*Patrick Peterson has the same number of punt return TD’s as LSU has passing TD’s.

Final Thoughts

First and foremost the penalties must be corrected by any means necessary. Maybe a 5 am meeting with Coach Moffitt would help. The next issue is the QB position. If the switch to Jarrett Lee doesn’t happen this week then it might not happen soon. I just can’t see the Florida being his first start. The time for change is now or never. Let Jarrett Lee get first team reps this week and let’s see how he responds to having a defense and a running game. I have been one of the biggest pro-Jordan Jefferson fans around. But he is now beginning to digress and I think the best move for him and the team is to put Lee on the field at 2:30 vs. Tennessee.

The staff needs to incorporate the Wild-Tiger 8-10 plays a game. I think Patrick Peterson would be the perfect candidate for this role with Russell Shepard in motion. LSU could also run this with Shepard at QB. Running plays without the QB on the field is an advantage for LSU. When Alabama struggles or needs a boost, they always go to the wildcat with Ingram. Urban Meyer used Trey Burton as his wildcat QB on Saturday against Kentucky. The result was 6 touchdowns. The smart thing about this, is now Alabama has to use a portion of their 20 hour practice week preparing for the Trey Burton package. If LSU would show some Wild-Tiger this week (even if it’s with Ridley), then not only does it give Tennessee a look that they have not seen, but it also makes Florida and future opponents have to prepare for a new element in the offense. Opposing teams already have to spend extra time preparing for our return man. This is My Take! It is what is. Have a great week and Geaux Tigers!

*I would also like to ask everyone to send a special prayer out to the Kenny McKinley family, South Carolina Athletics, and the Denver Bronco organization. The Saturday Night Slant staff has all parties in our thoughts and prayers.