What a game. It's the one we've been waiting for. A complete effort in all three phases against a highly capable opponent. After taking one on the chin from Alabama, LSU put the bye week into good use, revitalized themselves, got ready mentally and physically and absolutely dominated this one from the opening whistle. Poseur commented that this was a return to LSU football. But I'll say, this was even more than LSU getting back to its roots. This is what LSU football looks like at full potential. This is a dominant rushing attack paired with competent passing. This was elite level defense matched with elite level offense. This was effort meets focus meets execution. I drank about half of a Newcastle DraughtKeg, took a couple of shots of Tequila, and forced my wife to babysit me for the rest of the evening. We grabbed some sushi for dinner and she informed me the next day that I kept repeating, "What a game." That's what type of game this was.
To the bullets.
- You can't be anything but thrilled with the defensive effort in this game. A&M entered the game averaging 578 yards and and 49.2 points per game. They were averaging 7.64 yards per play. On Saturday? 299 yards. 10 points. 5.06 yards per play. LSU didn't just hang on against Johnny Football. They put Johnny in a corner. And no one puts Johnny in a corner.
- Hat tip to D.J. Welter who played the finest game of his Tiger career. Everyone's favorite whipping boy, Welter excelled in timed blitzes, mostly maintaining his rushing lanes and forcing Manziel to step up into the trash rather than break the hashes and get outside. It proved doubly effective to limit his long runs and also reduce his throwing lanes. Welter finished with six tackles and three QBHs. Good on you, kid.
- Speaking of maintaining rush lanes, where LSU really excelled on Saturday was in keeping gap discipline. The DL didn't finish with gaudy numbers, but Hunter, Rasco, Johnson and Ego did a superb job of making Manziel uncomfortable. By the 2nd quarter, he was already pressing. Six hurries, two sacks and a couple of batted down passes, and it was readily apparent early on that things just weren't going to come easy for the Aggies on Saturday.
- Let it also be noted that LSU simply out-executed A&M. A&M suffered from a few early drops, but what was most encouraging is that there were never players running wide and free. Nearly every catch was contested. LSU almost always had bodies right there on their receivers to limit the YAC they've excelled with all season. Hell, even the long TD had good coverage and was simply the byproduct of Tre White slipping on the play.
- Those young corners, though. Manziel completed less than 50% of his passes and threw a pair of awful INTs trying to make something, anything happen. The referees let both the receivers and corners play physical and a 170-pound-dripping-wet true freshman that didn't get to join the team until August showed up and manhandled a guy many project to be the top WR in this year's NFL draft. I've long loved Robinson, and he certainly brings a chip in the way he plays the game. He not only plays bigger than his size, his absurd length allows him to limit the catch radius of a WR. This kid is gonna be a great one.
- Hey, the offense showed up too. It's less surprising that LSU was able to muscle up on an A&M defense that gets steamrolled on a daily basis, but it sure was nice to see LSU grind on an opponent in the running game. We've talked before about the rushing attack being a bit of a boom or bust entity, but on Saturday they had their cake and ate it too. Big plays by Terrance Magee, tough yards by Hill and Blue, we had it all. Most of all though, this one had the signature of every great LSU rushing attack we've seen under Les Miles. An array of backs coming at you from all angles. Our RBs are ramping up while your defense is wearing down.
- The blocking on Magee's 65-yard scamper sure was textbook. Good on the coaches for letting the kid get his six, too, even if it took three tries.
- Shout out to Delahoussaye for keeping composure and making one of the strangest, ugliest XPs in LSU history.
- Just a random thought here, but is LSU built for the modern era? We've faced two excellent spread offenses this season and kept them both in check, if not outright dominated them. Let's not forget that A&M put up OVER twice the yards and four times the points on the vaunted Alabama defense. This is an equation that Nick Saban seems to still be trying to figure out. It'll be interesting to see what answers he has for Auburn this Saturday. Our coaches conscious decision to play smaller, more athletic players really shows up against teams that try and spread us out. Now if we can just get some muscle to match, like we had in 2011... we'll be in serious business.
- With two games left, LSU is right in line for another 10-win season and another top 10 finish in the polls. I'm not going to get ahead of myself, but outside of the disappointing Ole Miss loss, I think we finished pretty much as expected this season. Beating A&M somewhat redeems that albatross. Finish strong.