LSU -- Western Kentucky: A Viewer's Guide to the DVR Replay

Late post, but, to put the Western Kentucky game to bed (so to speak), allow me to offer a few quick thoughts/observations.

  • I can't really bury the lead, so we'll start with the quarterback situation. Without knowing the true motivations, it's hard to really know what to think of the decision to start Jordan Jefferson. The rumors of Jarrett Lee losing the start due to some rumored missed classes are certainly plausible (college kids skip class, it happens). And while Les Miles denied them, he also denied the suspensions of Spencer Ware, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon as well, so anybody that's been paying attention should know to take his statements at face value on such issues.

    It's also possible that the coaching staff thought that WKU would give them a chance to get some extra reps for Jefferson. If you notice, the playcalling wasn't the typical speed/spread option runs, and of course Lee actually ran a few of those when he came in. Personally, I have a hard time believing any of this is related to Lee's performance in the Alabama game. I also have a hard time believing Lee has truly been "benched," but we'll have to find wait a few more days to find that out. Contrary to Humanoid belief, Miles is as pragmatic as the next coach. This isn't about playing favorites. This isn't about Jefferson being Miles' pet. If I may quote T-Bob Hebert:

    "Anybody who wants to make this into a Jarrett and Jordan drama is just looking for drama for drama's sake. This team just wants to come out and win every week. This team is dedicated. No matter how it has to happen, everybody is behind them.

    The simple reality remains that LSU needs both of these two quarterbacks to do everything they want to run on offense. Greg Studrawa and Steve Kragthorpe have done an excellent job of maximizing effectiveness by minimizing responsibility, but if adding a second set of shoulders helps to increase the load LSU's quarterbacks can carry, that's a good thing. It damn sure isn't affecting the offensive continuity. The Tigers might have started this game sluggish/sloppy, but they still set new season highs in total offense and yards per play (474 yards and 8.0), and rushing yards and yards per carry (291 and 7.3). And LSU has scored 35 points or more in eight out of 10 games this season.
  • Is anybody really surprised that both LSU and Bama had emotional letdowns this week? Luckily for the Tigers, it came against a team that they had overmatched athletically and it only lasted about a quarter and a half or so.
  • Good example of said sluggishness -- on the game's second play a Hilltopper gave Hebert a nice shove in the back onto a pile. No reaction. Yeah, Hebert picked up a personal foul a few plays later, which I would guess involved some measure of revenge, but does anybody doubt that had something like that happened a week ago the reaction would have been immediate?
  • Overall, LSU's speed at tailback, coupled with some hard, decisive running (especially from Alfred Blue), helped to cover for some fairly lackluster run-blocking.
  • Another good example -- in the first half, WKU's average drive lasted 7.8 plays and covered 25.6 yards. In the second half, the numbers dropped to 4.6 plays for 15.4 yards.
  • Example No. 3, special teams: a season high in kickoff return yardage and yards per return, along with a bad fumble and muff by Odell Beckham. But I'm still down with ODB, and support using him on returns. He's been fairly consistent in the hands department since the halfway point of the season, and his speed makes the risk worth it.
  • One more special teams note: yet another punt downed inside the 10-yard line for Brad Wing. I have no idea if there's any sort of national record, but Wing surely has to be closing in on it at this point.
  • The Tiger linebackers spent a lot of the game playing on their heels, and it's no surprise that WKU's offense attacked them a lot in the passing game with tight ends, H-backs/fullbacks and running backs. Again, you can bet Bobby Petrino has noticed that on film, and TE Chris Gragg and RB Dennis Johnson have a combined 50 catches this season.
  • Stefoin Francois in particular really struggled with covering WKU's Jack Doyle. One can't help but think that the only thing keeping Tahj Jones out of the full-time starting lineup is his slight frame.
  • We'll close with Jefferson, who was fairly solid. Eight of 14, at 12 yards per attempt, with four touchdown drives. 188 yards of total offense, the second-highest total by any LSU quarterback this season. Were there mistakes, yeah -- such as the safety, although I would call that playcall needlessly risky. But he also tossed a beaut of a play-action pass to Rueben Randle, and just missed on two more potential big-play jump balls. And I do think there's some value in getting him the additional work. Saturday was certainly nothing deserving of the extreme reactions we've seen from fans, both positive and negative.
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