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Well, that was that. There’s really not much else to say about it. It just was. LSU didn’t play perfectly, but they didn’t play poorly either. Defense was spectacular. Offense continued to struggle. Special Teams looked great. I’m in the camp that you can hardly take much away from these games. I think the coaching staff wanted to use this game to further iron out kinks in the passing game. It didn’t work. Both QBs were woeful. Neither was accurate. Both were missing their targets. And this time, unlike the McNeese game, the pass protection wasn’t miserable (sans one or two plays).
This many games into the season I think it’s safe to say that it’s not that we don’t have a passing game at all… we just don’t have a deep passing game. And because we don’t have a deep passing game, it makes it so much easier for defenses to just sit on the short routes and limit us. Theoretically with our running game and underneath passing threats (Shepard, on bubble screens, namely), we should open up a world of deep throws, but it just doesn’t happen. Regardless, let’s recap the high points of the night after the jump.
-Defensively, we were the Mac truck and they were the fly. It was pretty apparent early on that they had very little shot to contend. The defense came to play, which was nice to see. I was happy that the team didn’t come in in letdown mode after a big win and just kinda go through the motions and pull it out with talent. ULM isn’t a great team, but they are a sneaky one with some talent. Put them away early and then get your young guys some experience.
-One of the announcers mentioned last night that we’ve played a total of 20 freshman, either true or redshirt. And not just in the conventional “oh they have a load of freshman on special teams” type of way. Sure, we have that too. But these guys have all been major contributors in big games: Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Craig Loston, Tharold Simon, Ronnie Vinson, Kevin Minter, Lamin Barrow, Tahj Jones, Chris Faulk, Kadron Boone, James Wright, and Spencer Ware. Never underestimate what this means for the future of the team. Namely, next season when some of these guys are asked to expand their roles, they will have actual game experience. That’s huge.
-I’ve maintained for a while that a two-QB system is the way to go, but I’m beginning to abandon that notion. Thank Jarrett Lee for what he’s done, but these past four weeks we see why he’s still the backup. He’s giving us very little right now. Not that I’m particularly overwhelmed by Jefferson’s play in any game but the Alabama game, but he does offer the added dimension of mobility and for a ball-control offense like ours, that’s important.
-We are stacked at running back, and the rich get richer next season with the additions of Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard.
-It’s truly unfortunate we lost Sam Montgomery for the season. However, Lavar Edwards is playing some very good football of late. That guy is a very, very good end.
-Greg Shaw has stepped in at RT and hasn’t missed a beat. Impressive. Will Blackwell has started practicing again, and Hurst should return at some point this year. If we could finish the season with the OL we hoped to start with, that would be ideal. Oh, and while Ben Jones will probably be 1st team All SEC, I expect PJ’s name to be on that list in short order. He’s terrific.
-It feels like it’s been forever since we just beat the tar out of someone.
-Overall, we did what we had to do: took care of business. No injuries to worry about. No close game to complain about (even if the offense was porous). Just show up, do work and go home. This team is playing with swagger and energy that we haven’t seen the past two seasons. I’m a big believer in momentum and what it does for teams during the college football season. One loss often takes superior teams to a miserable season (see Texas). One win can cause less talented teams to play above their heads. This happens all the time. We’re riding high right now, and next week, we need to bring that same attitude and swagger and take down an opponent that we realistically should put away early and easily.
Ole Miss has been our foil the past couple of season’s and many believe Nutt has Miles’ number. However, they are coming off a thrashing from Tennessee which will very likely render them out of bowl season (unless they are able to upset both us and State). However, I expect the team to be repeatedly reminded of their previous losses and to step up and play well against them.