I noticed that LSU's victory over Georgia Tech is the most lopsided of all the bowl games played so far. And we really did it entirely in one half. I was worried that Iowa would overtake us in that particular milestone, but South Carolina managed to stiffen up and play some in the 4th quarter to keep the margin of victory to a somewhat respectable 21 points.
I re-watched the game this morning. If you fast-forward through commercials, halftime, extra points, and the time between plays, you can watch an entire game in about an hour or so. Watching the game this morning, I was struck by some new observations:
First, I would really like an update on the players who got hurt. Demetrius Byrd, Charles Alexander, and Stefoin Francois all were injured in the game and I did not get a single update on their conditions. I would say this is another problem with the terrible broadcast, but I haven't seen any updates on the intertubes either. Someone posted a picture of Byrd dancing on the field after the game, but I have no confirmation of the picture's authenticity. Charles Alexander limped off the field, but with his myriad knee problems I fear he may have seriously hurt himself again.
Francois had a nice night on special teams (he recovered the onside kick), really contributing for the first time in his career, but then left with an injury. Stefoin Francois was a very highly regarded recruit from the 2007 class, and a lot of people expected him to be a standout player. He ran into a spot of off-field trouble in the offseason and seemed to struggle on the field as well. I sure would like to see him develop into the player everyone thought he would be. His play last night was very encouraging until he got hurt.
I'm not sure anyone else noticed this, but center Brett Helms left the game at some point after his holding penalty and did not return to the game. Once again, I heard no report of an injury, nor did I ever see him limp off the field. I am curious to know why he was held out.
Helms, Alexander, and Byrd are about to start getting ready for the NFL combines and then the Draft. It would be a shame if they weren't at their best.
- Crowton didn't lean as heavily on QB draws, and I think Jefferson benefited from that. Against Arkansas, it seemed like Jefferson was running a draw on every second down. I'm not sure that was the right way to go.
- It was good to see Ron Brooks used in the return game. He was another 2007 recruit who anticipated to be great with the ball in his hands. I'm glad he was finally used that way. He fielded the only returnable kickoff LSU got, and he didn't break it long, but I think he has the potential.
- Speaking of special teams, I am very impressed with the improvement the 2008 team has shown in special teams over the 2007 team. I think we covered kicks and punts significantly better, and our return game was better with Trindon Holliday splitting time returning punts. Special teams coordinator Joe Robinson was a new hire in the offseason, and while he is rumored to be moving on with the rest of the "defensive" coaching staff, I for one would not be at all upset to see him return. I'll have more on this in another post another day.
- While you can draw up a good list of LSU football players who had disappointing years for one reason or another (Jean-Francois, Kirston Pittman, Demetrius Byrd, Curtis Taylor, Harry Coleman, Danny McCray, etc.), I want to add another one to the list. Richard Murphy has been said to be on the verge of being a breakout star for two straight seasons now, and this year he actually took a step back in production. Last year he had 230 yards rushing with two touchdowns. This year he had 175 yards rushing with no touchdowns. His longest run of the season was 12 yards. His rate stats were down too. What's more, much like Keiland Williams, he often looked tentative running the ball.
- If the play of our youngsters are any indication, this team has a bright future. Karnell Hatcher has looked good whenever he's gotten on the field. Ryan Baker is a beast on special teams, and I would be surprised if he is not starting next year in Darry Beckwith's vacated spot (with either Riley or Sheppard sliding to the middle). Jordan Jefferson had a really nice game. Pep Levingston got in on some plays. Patrick Peterson is a total stud. Chad Jones is ready to break out. I really think that this team is going places.
- It will be very interesting to see who goes pro after this season. Charles Scott, Ciron Black, Richard Dickson, Brandon Lafell, and Ricky Jean-Francois all could, and Jean-Francois probably will, but it's unclear if anyone else will.
A lot of this might be fodder for more focused posts in the future, but I thought I'd get them out now.