What were your thoughts on the game? How much of it met your expectations, and what did you like/not like?
My first thought is that the defense played great. Not good. Great. You can't ask a defense to play any better than ours did last night. They gave up less than 100 yards passing while also holding the running QB to negative rushing yards. Vandy got barely 200 yards of offense on the night, and were just over 25% on 3rd downs. They did it under some trying circumstances as the offense kept putting them in bad positions throughout the 2nd half.
Which brings me to my second thought, which is that the offense needs work. We went a long stretch of the game without a first down. Heck, we got negative possessions twice in a row. The offensive line still isn't getting much push, and while Vandy has a nice defensive line I don't think we can feel very good about not winning that battle in the trenches when we had the ball. This is what is causing Charles Scott to be ineffective. For whatever reason, and I may have more thoughts on this after I've had a chance to watch the replay, Keiland Williams has been more effective.
Kudos to Keiland. To repeat a cliché I used earlier about the defense, KW has answered the bell this year after he really struggled last year. Richard Murphy looked good in limited action too. As of this writing, I don't know the extent of his injury. I hope he will be OK because we could really use what he is bringing to the table right now.
Jordan Jefferson has yet to make a big mistake, but he is also not a particularly accurate passer yet. I hope he improves this area, because we had some open receivers that he just missed last night.
The first words that come to mind are solid but unspectacular -- but I consider that a definite improvement on week one.
Defensively, LSU played solid, fundamentally sound football, especially in the secondary. Missed tackles were still a problem, but even that slightly improved from last week. LSU isn't doing a lot of big things yet, but they're starting to do the little things better.
The weather affected both teams -- dropped passes, poor shotgun snaps, etc...A lot of people are pointing to the lack of a vertical passing attack, but I still think that's partially by design for now. LSU isn't running a lot of playaction, which has been a Miles/Crowton staple, and I expect things to slightly expand weekly till the heart of the SEC schedule. The first few series were the kind of up-tempo, high-octane game I expect to see more of - the throws were a little more downfield, and of course Russell Shepard got in on the act as well.
The offensive line is concerning me. LSU has a lighter line this year, and while that seems to be helping with some of the outside zone runs and option plays, it's looking like they sorely miss having Herman and Quinn Johnson to help pile-drive Charles Scott up the gut. Vanderbilt brought a lot of pressure, and Jefferson played with a conservative, game-manager style. But he throws too nice of a deep ball for me to believe we won't see the passing game continue to open up.
On special teams -- I was very pleased to see Josh Jasper do a solid job on field goals in the bad weather. He was a big source of concern over the summer. Derek Helton, again, showed some improvement, but that definitely has to continue. His 50-yarder in the second half was a thing of beauty, and if he can boom 'em like that more consistently he can become a heck of a weapon.
The defense saved our bacon all night. If you're a negative person, you bitched about the defense after Washington and now you're bitching about the offense. I've never been accused of being a walking-on-sunshine sort of optimist, but I feel pretty good about everything right now. We need to put it all together, but the pieces are all there. Peterson is an absolute beast. He is a lockdown corner already. I didn't think the line got much push, but they recorded three sacks and kept a mobile QB in the pocket for most of the game. And 210 yards is 210 yards. Vandy's offense was shut down.
LSU's offense hit some potholes, particularly in the third quarter. Those three straight three and outs were brutal to watch. Vandy stacked the box and dared Jefferson to throw deep and we kept trying to dink and dunk. There was simply no space. Yes, we can blame the blocking, but there was also some bad playcalling there. Throw it deep, just once. Please. The o-line is begging you.
I do think we're reaching a point where it's time to admit Keiland should be the feature back. Scott is a good power back and I'm comfortable with giving him the ball on third and two, but he just lacks the explosiveness on 1st and 10. Yes, some of it is the blocking, but Keiland is rushing for over 7 yards per carry behind the very same line.
I like that Miles is trying to get everyone involved and get everyone their touches. There's only one football, but he showed a lot more creativity against Vandy. I still don't think we've seen the whole playbook, but he did open it up a bit. We just need to finish up drives. Those field goals are fine against Vandy, not so much against Florida.
I really think we'll see the offense start to do more in the coming weeks. Think about it, so many of the plays that have consistently been staples of this attack were absent on Saturday -- play-action passing, those dig routes that Brandon LaFell runs so well, endzone fades (I think LSU threw one to Toliver but Myron Lewis did a solid job of breaking things up) and passes over the middle to the tight end. LSU has done all of these things too consistently year-to-year for me to believe they've been tossed out of the playbook.
The polls really don't matter yet, but it's becoming common to read that LSU is overranked. I disagree, actually. LSU has beaten two BCS teams, which is a better resume than most teams. And yes, it is just UW and Vandy, but I think both of those teams are being underrated. Neither will compete for the title or anything, but both will probably be around 500 this season. LSU is being maligned for comfortably beating, but not blowing out, mid-level BCS teams. Yet Penn State is being praised for beating Syracuse by 21. I think your level of comfort right now depends on how you view the teams LSU has beaten. I actually feel a lot better after this week than the last. LSU hasn't played a "complete" game yet, but all of the elements have shown up. Would LSU be more highly thought of had Miles tried for a meaningless touchdown so the final would be a more impressive-looking 30-9?