Prior to LSU's victory over Washington, I wrote about eight things I was looking for out of the Tigers on Saturday night. Here's my run down of LSU's performance based on those eight points.
1) Jordan Jefferson - Jefferson played well enough. He did everything I was looking for. He managed the game well. He played within himself and made plays when he had to. He did not turn the ball over. He did not take sacks. The biggest thing was he went into a hostile environment (did you see the camera shaking all night) and handled himself and the offense with composure. That's no easy feat for the youngest starting quarterback in the SEC.
2) Russell Shepard - Talk about your let downs. Earlier in the week Miles said Shepard may touch the ball as many as 10-12 times. However, I don't recall seeing him on the field at all. Now we must wait for his debut another seven days.
3) The Defensive Line - This was a disappointment. LSU managed a single sack and there was not consistent pressure. I realize the team was facing a very mobile, smart quarterback, but if it struggled this much with Jake Locker, facing Tim Tebow is going to be a nightmare. I did like what I saw out of Drake Nevis. I'm not the best judge of line play, but I seemed to notice him making plays a lot whether it was on the outside or wherever. However, outside of him, everyone else was pretty listless.
4) Patrick Peterson and Chad Jones - Patrick Peterson was a man amongst boys on Saturday night. He was everywhere and showed that he is ready to be the best cornerback in the SEC this season. However, Jones was mostly non-existent from what I remember. He had just four tackles and I don't recall any big plays or pass breakups. He quarterbacks the secondary and LSU gave up 321 yards through the air and couldn't get U-Dub off the field on third down. He needs to be a playmaker for the Tigers defense to be successful.
5) The Return Game - Its tough to judge this. LSU forced just three punts and returned one while a second went for a touchback. The Huskies kicked short all night and while the Tigers had no kickoff returns of more than 10 yards, they started past the 30-yard line all four times they started a drive after a kickoff. We'll reserve judgement for a week.
6) Wide Receivers - On Friday I asked, "Will Terrance Tolliver finally become a stud?" Um, yes. He and Brandon LaFell are now likely the best 1-2 punch in the SEC, and maybe the nation. The problem is that there is still no third or fourth receiver. Like, at all. No other receiver had a catch and only once was another one targeted, Chris Mitchell. Reuben Randle was not used. See above about Shepard. I was curious about Chris Tolliver. I still am. What about Trindon Holliday?
7) Killer Instinct - Through the middle of the decade, from 2003-07, LSU would just destroy teams that it was better than. It would leave no doubt. That didn't happen last year and it certainly didn't happen last night. The Tigers still need to learn how to start fast and keep the pressure on like it did against Georgia Tech in the Peach Chik-Fil-A Bowl.
8) The Backfield - I was interested in seeing what mad scientist Gary Crowton would come up with given his never-ending string of gamebreakers. However, we didn't see Russell Shepard. Charles Scott was average and even lost a fumble. It was interesting to see Jefferson line up in the "Pistol" with Keiland Williams behind him and run a speed option out of it. Williams looked as good as I've seen him (outside of the Virginia Tech game in 2007). Richard Murphy didn't get a touch and I don't remember seeing him much. Trindon Holliday, the fastest man in college (not just football, all of college) only got one touch.
Overall, I was slightly disappointed in LSU's play, particularly on defense. I'm hoping the offense was holding things back, which obviously it was by not playing Shephard. However, it seems like getting him and Randle as many live snaps as possible would be nothing but helpful with Georgia and Florida only a month away.
I'm also trying to convince myself that the 2500-mile trip had something to do with it also. As always, we'll know more next week.