Don't worry Mike. You didn't miss much.
Very odd game. It's hard to call a 51-point shutout underwhelming, but that was kind of the case for LSU-ULM. And that wasn't really a surprise, to be honest. I expected the emotional letdown, and I was skeptical of one great game suddenly reversing a season-plus of offensive struggles. The silver-lining to that is that we've seen the Tigers play detached football before and still not win by this much, against even worse competition. On to the observations:
- Surely people were expecting the play-calling to be that vanilla, right? Establish the run, keep the passing game rudimentary and see if you can generate some points? The passing game, unfortunately, was pretty nonchalant, even against some pretty slow DB's for the Warhawks. It wasn't surprising by any stretch, but it sure would have been encouraging to see the quarterbacks and receivers execute with some urgency. The play was bad, but it felt more like both quarterbacks were just going through the motions.
- I did, however, really enjoy seeing the offense get some of the youngsters involved. Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, James Wright, etc. The reps didn't show up in the form of great stats, but just getting the snaps has value for those guys. Both for the final three games (counting the bowl), and for next year.
- Obviously, every point on this list should include the caveat of poor competition, but kudos to Greg Shaw for another strong game at right tackle. The prospect of him seeing extended playing time was a scary one as of last spring, but he's acquitting himself very well.
- Defensively, I think the most impressive part of the team's play was that I didn't see a ton of intensity. Just a business-like approach. But to pitch a shutout, force five turnovers and score two touchdowns with that sort of mentality is pretty damn impressive.
- Defensive end play was outstanding in this game, with both Lavar Edwards and Chancey Aghayere doing a great job of holding the defensive edge when needed, and crashing down the line inside against the interior run. Outside linebackers Ryan Baker and Lamin Barrow were excellent as well at keeping some of the wide runs contained. Baker really is playing at an all-conference level.
- Ron Brooks' excellent play as a blitzing dime back paid off in a different way on his pick-six. Quarterbacks are so used to seeing him attack that Kolton Browning fired a pass right at him, thinking he'd be rushing up field. Easy play. And great to see it from Brooks, a formerly very well-regarded recruit who hasn't been a star, but has been an excellent backup and role-player.
- When the opposing team's quarterback takes a shot down the field and your immediate reaction is "Oh...well that wasn't a very smart decision," before the ball is anywhere near the receiver or the corner, that's how you know you have an elite cover man. Kneel. Before. Zod.
- At some point in meetings last week, somebody on the ULM coaching staff said "I don't care how badly we get beat, or how short we have to kick it. We are not punting the ball to Patrick Peterson. Ever."
- More on the young players theme, great job by T-Rex Mathieu, Eric Reid and Craig Loston, who all played a role in containing the ULM spread running attack. Browning came into this game averaging 260 yards of offense per outing and got just 71.
- I don't know how much actual coaching Joe Robinson does of LSU's kickers, but whatever he does works. In the last four years he's developed two of the best in LSU history in Colt David and Josh Jasper. And for that, he deserves some praise.