Confidence and momentum are strange things in college sports as one week you are king of the hill and the next week mired in despair. South Carolina was coming off a huge win at home against the Georgia Bulldogs and brimming with confidence.
Many fans and pundits were giving “Last Rites” to LSU’s 2012 season after a dismal loss to Florida in the Swamp. Commentator Lou Holtz said on College Gameday that the Tigers only chance at winning would be if the Gamecocks bus broke down. It didn’t, but South Carolina did.
LSU dominated the game from start to finish and if not for a turnover and big punt return along with some red zone miscues by the Tigers, the score could have been much worse. Give USC credit for keeping the game in doubt till the final seconds, but you would expect that from the #3 team in the country.
I mentioned in my blog yesterday that LSU’s offense needed to score points (hopefully over 16) and control the time of possession. The Tigers did both by scoring 23 points and holding the ball for almost 14 extra minutes.
LSU dominated every major statistical category but time of possession and points were the most critical to me.
Because that would determine who is controlling the line of scrimmage and whether LSU’s defense would be dominating the game. The Tiger’s defense was able to shut down what most people consider to be the best running back in the country Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore ran for 35 yards and averaged 2.7 yards per carry. Three LSU running back had more yardage than Lattimore ( Hill,Ware and Ford).
Points because I didn’t care how LSU got them either by defense or special teams, the Tigers just needed to score.
Another key stat to look at as we move forward in this season are 3 and outs. LSU’s offense started this 3 and out trend last year and not only are they demoralizing to the offense, but also to the defense who has just gotten off the field.
Last night the Tigers only had two 3 and outs against a great defense. One of the 3 and outs was the final drive where LSU was just trying to run out the clock. Zach Mettenberger led drives of 16, 11, 9, and 16 with all but one (missed fg) leading to scores.
Compare that to the Florida game where LSU had six 3 and outs. Against the Gators, LSU’s longest drive of the game was only 10 plays which by the way was the opening drive of the game.
I also had previously mentioned that the big name recruits and players on LSU needed to step up and live up to those reputations. They did.
Jeremy Hill exploded on the scene and imposed his will on the Gamecocks.
The receivers caught the ball effectively and got open. An offensive line with only 2 starters from the first game played brilliantly. Before you call this a patchwork offensive line realize that these are all highly regarded blue chip recruits, they are just inexperienced. Well, they were inexperienced.
Hopefully this 2012 version of the LSU Tigers just grew up before our eyes last night against the former # 3 team in the country.
This team is still far from a finished product and made plenty of mistakes that need to be worked out if they want to play for a national title, but Tiger fans wanted to see improvement.
They got it last night.
Love it or hate it, we saw vintage Les Miles football.
“That was Death Valley,” Miles said triumphantly afterward. “That was the place where opponents’ dreams come to die — and it was spectacular.”