Last Saturday's game wasn't quite the paycheck slaughter that many expected, as EMU proved to be surprisingly frisky, even after falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter. I missed the game live (yes, I know) due to a family card tournament in which I had a respectable top 10 finish. I caught up with the replay the following day, secure in the knowledge LSU was going to win by three touchdowns. Made it a tad less stressful, I would imagine.
So let this also serve as my First Impressions, as Jake took the reins this weekend. It was a sloppy game, and boy, did the receivers stink up the joint, but this was also a few plays away from being a blowout. If LSU doesn't gift EMU with terrific field position in the second, we are looking at a likely 24-7 halftime, en route to a laugher. But it was not to be. Heck, even if LSU scores to close out its dominant fourth quarter drive which ended the game, then LSU wins 51-22, and the score doesn't even merit and eyebrow raise.
This is still the team's biggest issue: intensity. The question is whether they can flip that switch when bigger opponents come to town.
8:31. The time of possession on LSU's final drive. LSU got the ball, up 22 with eight and half minutes to play, pinned on its own two. With primarily the second teamers in the game, the offense marched down the field on 14 plays to cover 95 yards. That was a dominant drive to close out the game even before we thought the game could be closed off with one drive. You could frame that drive.
1. The number of turnovers. You knew it was coming, as LSU hadn't turned the ball over all season. And what a killer it was. EMU got the ball inside the five yard line and quickly converted it into points. At that point, LSU was moving the ball nearly at will and had built a 17-7 lead, pausing only for breath on an EMU drive. Suddenly, the game was within a field goal with halftime only two minutes away. That interception changed the entire complexion of the game.
0 for 2. LSU 3rd down conversions in the second half. LSU blew the game wide open not by converting its third downs, but by avoiding them entirely. LSU built a 17-0 lead the same way, facing precisely zero third downs in the first quarter.
4-15-1. Harris' completion/attempts/interception line is unspeakably awful. Now, his receivers spent most of the game hanging him out to dry by dropping catchable balls, particularly Dural who seemed to invent new ways to drop passes. No one is going to want to look at the game tape. Harris went 0-6 in the second half, as he spent most of the time just handed the ball off, not even attempting a pass in the fourth quarter. This is largely on the receiving corps, but still... 4 of 15. That's terrible.
479-255. LSU may have allowed EMU to complete 17/24 passing, and Harris might have only thrown for all of 80 yards, but let's not get confused: LSU crushed EMU by outgaining them at nearly a two to one margin. Gaining nearly 500 yards on just 64 plays is pretty impressive, as LSU averaged 7.5 yards/play. That's what you're supposed to do in a paycheck game, but it was nice to see the offense actually do it.
26. Fournette's total number of carries. LSU's Heisman contender did get to take most of the fourth quarter off, but he ended up touching the ball a whole heck of a lot more than I think anyone planned. With the passing game stuck in the mud, Fournette bailed the offense out with yet another 200 yard game. The guy is pretty good, but the number of carries is beginning to become a concern. You want your bell cow to be getting under 20 carries in a paycheck game. But, this one didn't go according to plan, and Miles needed to call on the franchise.
0. The number of LSU losses. We are only one weekend into October, and there are only three undefeated teams left in the SEC. If you had those three as Florida, Texas A&M, and LSU in your pool, then move to Vegas. The biggest events for LSU might have taken place outside of Tiger Stadium, as LSU found its tie for the lead in the West division a little less crowded.