After two games with their backs up against the wall and prevailing as underdogs, LSU went into Oxford on Saturday night looking to handle life as a favorite and make it three SEC wins on the trot. Derrius Guice made sure they handled it just fine, as he ran for 276 yards and 285 all purpose to carry the Tigers to a dominant victory over Ole Miss.
The start for LSU was almost as much improved from the start against Auburn as you could imagine. The defense forced a three-and-out and then the offense moved it all the way to the Ole Miss 5 in three plays. But trouble running between the tackles resurfaced and a sack on Danny Etling forced the Tigers to settle for a field goal. A disappointing result to a big first red zone chance, but Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams both looked as healthy as they have all year on the first series.
Ole Miss found much more success on their second series, as LSU’s defense basically gave Shea Patterson time to make a sandwich and eat it before he threw for a first down completion. For reasons completely defying logic, Ole Miss went for a field goal on 4th-and-1, and the Rebels 8th year senior kicker Gary Wunderlich made it 3-3.
I think it’s safe to say Derrius Guice is back. 10-3 LSU.
I also think it’s safe to say that Danny Etling is absolutely hopeless against pressure. And in the first quarter, it was completely evident that Ole Miss knew it. But the LSU defense was continuing their stellar play to make sure the Tigers continued to lead after one.
The offensive gameplan by Matt Canada was an effective one, a healthy diet of both Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams to a very strong effect, but several miscues by the offensive line and continued poor pass protection meant potential drives stalled. Fortunately, the LSU defense was not afraid whatsoever of what the Ole Miss passing attack was bringing too it, as Grant Delpit played center field to pick off a pass. Ever since that blown coverage against Auburn in the first quarter, Delpit has shown why Dave Aranda has so much faith in him.
A near perfect drive was pitched late in the first half, with more strong runs by Guice and Williams mixed in with a couple good throws by Etling setting up LSU deep in Ole Miss territory. However two perfect Etling throws - one on a post to the end zone to Stephen Sullivan and the other on a slant to Russell Gage - were incomplete, leaving LSU to settle for a field goal. When your average QB is making perfect throws and you’re not coming down with them, it’s going to be tough to have success. But 13-3 on the road when getting the ball to start the 2nd half is hardly a bad thing.
Or so it seemed, until the LSU defense decided to vomit all over themselves with Ole Miss’ back-up QB, who had never thrown a pass in his career, in the game. It was inexcusable defense, but thankfully they held the Rebels to a field goal to make it 13-6 in their favor at the break.
Derrius Guice continued to be great, the LSU offense in the red zone continued to be incredibly suspect, and Connor Culp continued to be close to perfect. 16-6 LSU early in the second half.
This is probably the proper space to say that I loved the hell out of the LSU defensive backs tonight and had quite a bit less love for the LSU front seven. Pass breakups are a lot nicer than missed tackles against a mediocre run game. I also love the hell out of Danny Etling. He has his limitations, and the lack of a great passing game is frustrating, but that dude plays with balls on every play. And in college football especially, that is fun to root for.
LSU’s front seven continued to be not fun to root for, but rather aggravating - though it should be stated Ole Miss got away with holding a fair bit - and Ole Miss immediately turned a two touchdown deficit back into a one touchdown one.
Derrius Guice is amazing and one of the greatest running backs I’ve ever seen, but HOLY CRAP LSU FINALLY HIT THE SHOVEL PASS EFFECTIVELY. The most fun part about Matt Canada’s offense, which LSU hadn’t hit on three or four attempts this season, finally got nailed to absolute perfection and I was dancing in my living room.
I tweeted out during the first half that Grant Delpit was a future All-SEC player. Watching everything he did in the second half, I begun to feel like he even has All-American potential. He’s the next Eric Reid for this LSU defense.
Ole Miss bit on a Danny Etling play action fake in the 4th Quarter like I bite on whatever I order at Popeyes. Aggressively and with no care in the world. Unfortunately for them, unlike me, Foster Moreau was running free to catch a 60 yard touchdown pass from Danny Etling, which essentially sealed the LSU victory.
Speaking of Eric Reid, Kevin Toliver made the gotdanged Eric Reid play from the Alabama game in 2011. Just absolutely stole the ball away from the Ole Miss receiver. Toliver has embodied the improvement of this LSU team over the last few weeks. After a rough season last year, he has ben maybe the best defensive back on a team full of great ones this year.
LSU wrapped up the win 40-24.
This was the Derrius Guice game. Very similarly to Leonard Fournette last year, Derrius Guice finally got healthy against Ole Miss, and ran for 276 yards, setting up virtually every LSU scoring drive. He went over 250 for the 3rd time in his career, and nearly broke his own record for most rushing yards in a game.
As a team, LSU piled up 594 yards of offense and the receivers contributed 14. 580 yards of offense from the running backs, fullbacks, and tight ends. I don’t have the words to describe how that makes me feel. Well, I do, but probably not in this particular forum. It is my personal nirvana. A beautiful gameplan by Matt Canada, executed to perfection by the LSU offense.
The Tigers are now 6-2, having won three straight SEC games when they left for dead. They control their own destiny with regards to everything with a month to go in this season. Can’t ask for much better.
Now time for a bye week, and then we go to Tuscaloosa to shake our fist at what likely will be an unmerciful God.