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LSU 34 - Mississippi State 24: Initial Thoughts

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First, don't let the score fool you.  We were in control of this one early and Mississippi State did not once have possession of the ball with the differential less than 10 points after the 10 minute mark of the 2nd quarter, except briefly at the end of the half, when they ran out the clock.

It wasn't a pretty win, but we got command of the game and never relinquished it.  Mississippi State kept fighting and scored a couple late touchdowns to make the score a little closer than the game really was.

The good was:

  1. Charles Scott:  His 140 yards rushing once again paced the offense, and he got into the end zone twice.  I'm interested in knowing when the last time an LSU running back carried the ball 27 times in a game was.  He did very little that was spectacular, but he kept clicking off yards, averaging about 5 1/2 yards per carry on touches where he didn't get stopped by the plane of the end zone.  His longest run was 20 yards, so there were no outliers skewing the stats.  He earned each one of those yards, and was a great chains mover.
  2. Brandon Lafell:  7 catches, 100 yards, and should have had a touchdown except that he fumbled it going into the end zone because he wasn't holding the ball right.  He also recovered an onside kick.  He is clearly the go-to receiver on this team and he has stepped up his play this season to help his young quarterbacks.
  3. Jarrett Lee:  Quietly had a 261 yard throwing night with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.  He even got the ball to Terrance Toliver.  
  4. The offensive line:  Opened holes for Scott, and kept Lee mostly clean all night.  This is a great unit.  I did notice that Josh Dworaczyk got in the game for Lyle Hitt.  Don't know if Hitt was injured or if they just wanted to get a look at Dworaczyk.

The bad was:

  1. In the 2nd Half, we couldn't get the defense off the field:  We gave up an 18 play touchdown drive.  Of course, that drive pretty much ended MSU's chances because they ran too much clock when they were behind by 3 scores.  They couldn't make the big 3rd down stop and seemed to give up the short pass to the running backs all night, which were consistently turned up field for 6 or 7 yards.
  2. We seemed to lose offensive intensity at times:  We had a couple of turnovers at the end of the first half, including an interception and a fumble.  I'm not sure who was at fault for the interception, because the ball was thrown where Dickson could catch it, but he wasn't ready for it.  Did Lee throw too early, or did Dickson not focus?  I can't tell.  The fumble?  Well, that's the sort of thing that's going to happen sometimes when you hand the ball to the fullback.  
  3. Injuries to Charles Alexander and Ricky Jean-Francois:  RJF was reported to be a groin strain.  It sounds not that serious, but I did not hear a report on Charles Alexander.  He got rolled by Al Woods and appeared to injure his knee.  When we lost him last year, our defense was never the same again.  Hopefully it's not serious, because he's one of our best players regardless of position.  Neither Jean-Francois nor Alexander played again after leaving the game.

I think part of it was that we played very conservatively on defense once we got a big lead.  We stopped blitzing entirely and mostly played keep-it-in-front of you defense.  I guess the purpose was not to show anything to Florida.

In a week where 7 teams in the top 25 suffered upsets, including three top-5 teams, I suppose any W looks alright.  If you're a poll watcher or a "style points" cop, you might not like this result.  We're supposed to blow out Mississippi State, but I don't really care.  My goal this year is to win the SEC, and we're one game closer to fulfilling that goal.