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LSU 33 - Arkansas 30: Snap Judgments

A win's a win.  I guess we've said that a few times this year.  For a team that was predicted before the season to be 9-3 at the end, this has been a very tumultuous 9-3 team.  It's a team that could well have been 6-6 (near losses to Washington, MSU, and Arkansas).  It could have beaten Ole Miss, and wasn't THAT far away from beating Alabama.  This is a team that, based on its play on the field, could have gone anywhere from 6-6 to 11-1.  9-3 is, I suppose, not that bad under those circumstances.  There will be some thoughts on that later; probably a lot of thoughts from a lot of different writers.  Anyway, a few snap judgments:

  • First, the final drive of regular time.  After taking a terrible sack, Jefferson came back and made some nice plays, but the final drive belonged to Stevan Ridley, Josh Jasper, and Derek Helton.  Derek Helton?  The snap on the field goal was terrible, but Helton snagged the high-and-outside pitch and got it down for Jasper to get a clean hit on it.  Tie game.
  • Jefferson was maddeningly inconsistent throughout the game, vacillating from stretches of brilliance (our touchdown drives) and strange decision-making/inaccuracy (most of the rest of the game).  This is a kid with the potential to be an excellent quarterback.  He just needs to accentuate the positive while eliminating the negative.  There's a lot of positive to work with there.
  • The overtime was a snoozer.  We went 3-and-out kind of pitifully, but got a medium-range field goal.  Arkansas nearly had to try a 45-yarder until they got a nice 8 yard gain on 3rd and 12 to set up a medium-range field goal, but missed it.  Drake Nevis and Lavar Edwards made great plays to set up the 3rd and long that ultimately decided the game.
  • Trindon Holliday was the MVP of the first half until he muffed that punt, scoring a special teams touchdown, putting us in good field position multiple times, and running effectively from scrimmage.  Then, after the muff, he completely disappeared.
  • Russell Shepard also disappeared after a little early activity.  This is one of the lesser-discussed but most maddening aspects of our suspect offense.  In the second half, we tend to tighten up and not put in the homerun hitters.
  • I did not like the helmet-to-helmet call on Chad Jones.  I'm not saying it was technically wrong, but it's been called so infrequently this year that it is surprising to me that it was called on a play where it appeared that Jones at least attempted to lead with his shoulder, and appeared to hit head-to-head only with a glancing blow.  We've seen much worse head-to-head hits go uncalled this year.
  • The defensive line got after it in the first half, then disappeared for long stretches in the second.  I don't think it's a coincidence that we did not get a single stop in the second half.  When we stopped getting pressure, Ryan Mallett started hitting receivers.  The decision to constantly go with a 3-man rush in the second half contributed to the problems, even though the 3-man rush had success in the first half.
  • The coverage teams were great tonight.  I can't wait to see more of Ryan Baker next year.
  • It was good to see Brandon Lafell walk off.  It would have been awful to see such a great Tiger blow a knee in overtime of Game 12 of his senior season.
  • The offensive line played pretty well this week.  Losing Ciron Black will hurt, but I think this could be a good unit next year.
  • Except for the helmet-to-helmet, I thought the officiating was pretty good tonight. 
  • The corner opposite Peterson continues to get picked on in every game.  I sure hope that Jai Eugene makes a big leap in his play next year, or that Morris Claiborne is ready to take over.
  • With Ole Miss losing, I think we are going to the Cap One, but nothing is official.  Who else would they take at this point?  Ole Miss?  South Carolina?  Tennessee?  Georgia?  We're not exactly a thrilling choice, but those others aren't either.  Actually, it will be really interesting to see how the bowls shake out.  As of press time, Georgia was still playing Georgia Tech.  If they win that one, there will be six, SIX!, teams with 7 wins in the SEC.  Ole Miss, at 8 wins, is the clear choice for Cotton, but the Outback and every bowl on down could go in literally any direction after that.