Well, that's over with relatively little pain.
Such an odd game. I'm not sure that I totally agree with Poseur's assessment. Yeah, there wasn't much intensity in this game, and I'm not going to come here and talk about how great this game was. But I don't know that I'd be saying that even if LSU had come out and dominated with the 48 straight points before Furman got those 16. I think most of the anger is still residue from the painful Ole Miss loss. I understand it, though I don't necessarily share it.
It's an odd game in that LSU completely dominated the box score in nearly every way possible, and tallied the third-biggest offensive day in school history, and yet...it was still just a lackluster game. Was it Towson 2012 bad? No. LSU turned it on the second half and squashed the Paladins flat. It just wasn't the orderly execution we all wanted to see. But in the end, it still happened, and it appears that LSU made it through with minimal wear and tear, which was the main thing for this game. On to the bye week and Bama hype.
After the bullet points...
- Guess we start with that meh-some first half. The pick-six looked like a basic miss-communication. Odell Beckham Jr. ran a curl, Zach Mettenberger threw a quick out route, easy play for Furman's Reggie Thomas. It was frustrating due to the timing of the play, but honestly in terms of mistakes, it's kind of a "shit happens" thing, so long as it doesn't happen very often. And honestly, this season it hasn't. I don't brush it off, but I don't lend it a ton of attention.
- Interception No. 2 was tipped by a defensive end that burned Jerald Hawkins. More on that in a bit.
- But overall, a strong night for No. 8. Touchdown one to ODB was a nice jump-ball read, touchdown two was a bullet on a dig route with Osiris doing the rest of the work. In between, Mettenberger did a solid job of finding secondary guys when Furman tried to double Beckham and Landry. Hence a couple of targets for Dillon Gordon and Travis Dickson. He also did a good job of reading the check-down quickly when it was open, particularly on the 22-yard completion to Alfred Blue out of the backfield.
- I do suspect that Mettenberger's knee/lower leg (I've heard shin bruise as well) may be bothering him a little more than he's been letting on. Not a bad time for some R&R.
- Offensive line was re-shuffled a bit, with Ethan Pocic starting at center and Hawkins sliding over to left tackle while Elliot Porter and La'El Collins were sidelined. Evan Washington got the start over on the right side and really did a nice job, especially in the running game. Hawkins, on the other hand, looked a bit sluggish, much like the rest of the team, early on. Couldn't get his feet out of quick sand in pass-pro a few times. As good as he's looked in some games, when Hawkins has a bad day it usually leads to a sack or two.
- I didn't get a great look at Pocic aside from a play or two where he seemed a little lost. But that's not unusual for a true freshman, and I don't imagine he's going to be called on to start again this year.
- Melvin Jones in at fullback was a little nondescript on the day, although he did catch his first career touchdown and make a heck of a block to spring Terrence Magee's 39-yard touchdown. As did Travis Dickson, in at tight end. I do like Jones' potential in this spot in the future. He's a nice athlete with good size.
- Note of interest from the offense: as the third quarter opened, LSU came out in a 21 personnel look. One back with two tight ends. It's a look we haven't seen nearly as much out of the Tiger offense this season compared to last, one they had some success with on some zone runs for Jeremy Hill. That could be something to watch for in the future. Balanced one-back looks can be difficult for Alabama's defense, as they don't have a declared strength and allow an offense to attack either side of the formation with relative ease.
- The defense was kind of emblematic of the weirdness of this game. I mean look at that box score: Furman gained just 198 yards and just 3.09 per play, 3.7 yards per pass attempt and converted just 4-16 on third down. And yet...was it really anything to get excited about? No.
- What was weird was the way the Paladins moved the ball. In the first half LSU tried to stick with a basic one- or two-deep man shell, and Furman used a ton of bootlegs, waggles and other little dickhead passing plays (my own term) like rub-routes to get the ball out quickly. They're plays that usually work against a man defense, but they're not ones that offenses rely on too much, because, well, most teams want to push the ball a little farther down the field. It kept Furman in third-and-short often, and they found ways to convert.
In the second half, the Tigers switched more to a tight zone and ate up those short plays for smaller gains, forced more longer-yardage third downs and got off the field.
- Dwayne Thomas with two sacks in the Mustang package. That ties him for second on the team with Jalen Mills and Anthony Johnson.
- Fourteen tackles for Kwon Alexander, but he's going to have to learn to play a little more under control. I mean yeah, LSU needs somebody in this linebacking corps to throw themselves around a little bit, but he can be wreckless and vulnerable to misdirection. Stupid personal foul penalties like the one he drew can be killers in big games as well.
- Staff made a concerted effort to get the reserves and n00bs in early on, but it didn't exactly engender much confidence. Lamar Louis got a lot of snaps at middle linebacker, and is just too small against a downhill running team. And Johnson and Ego Ferguson are not the type of defensive tackles to protect a smaller middle linebacker like that.
- Special teams...woof. James Hairston booms the opening kickoff out of bounds. Colby Delahoussaye missed both a PAT and a 31-yard field goal. Better get that stuff out of your system boys. Hairson filled in on extra points after the second Delahoussaye miss.
- The Beckham muff wasn't his typical "well why'd you even field that?" play. Just misjudged the ball coming in and lost it. Lost it twice, really, as it bounced right back up to him as he fell down but he couldn't hold on. Tell you what, ODB. IF you can make up for it with 200-yard days, I can deal. But just catch the ball and do your job.
- Sorry for the short and sweet of this. I didn't get much of a chance to re-watch anything, and actually had to bail a little early due to family obligations. The crowd was a little sparse, but honestly not quite as bad as I thought, although it predictably bailed early. The band even brought back the "Ow-we-ow" chant, which was nice. Students didn't even try to ruin it.
But honestly, the main takeaway from this game was the lack of injuries. Nine straight games has been a grind, but now it's time for the open week and to heal up for the stretch run. On to the next one.