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Behind the Box Score: Vanderbilt

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About that defense....

LSU v Vanderbilt
The special teams god
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Let’s not kid ourselves: we’re new to this. I’ve got an idea of what is important in his new-fangled world we live in which LSU scores points by the bunches but allows over 30, and it’s not that big of a deal.

Still, my intuition is a bit off. It doesn’t feel right, and it’s going to take some getting used to. LSU isn’t supposed to look like this, but here we are. Let’s try and make sense of this brave new world, and I swear, maybe talk ourselves off the ledge about the defense.

6. Joe Burrow touchdown passes. Let’s start with the school record. Burrow’s been knocking on the door all season, but he finally owns the single game passing record all his lonesome. He threw six TD passes and didn’t even look like he was stressed about it. He took the fourth quarter off and, had this game been close, might have been in the conversation for 8 or 9 touchdown passes. Just something to watch for. This might not be the record by season’s end.

2. Vanderbilt defensive touchdowns scored. Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat allowing 38 points. The defense needs to tighten up, as that effort won’t get it done. But before we mash the panic button, Vandy scored on the first drive of each half before the defense largely shut the door for the rest of the half. It was the offense who, in the process of scoring 66 points, gave away 14, including a pick six allowed by Myles Brennan with less than two minutes to go in the game. Okay, Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fumble near the end of the first half was significant at the time, keeping the game somewhat close, but that last touchdown was about as meaningless as a touchdown could be.

2. Tyler Shelvin pass break ups. Shelvin finished second on the team in pass break-ups, thanks to two batted passes. That’s just a weird quirk of the scoring, but we should never fail to recognize a defensive lineman scoring multiple PBUs in a game.

1. Yards shy of the goal line for Micah Baskerville’s kickoff return. Baskerville picked up the opening onside kick of the second half and returned it 46 yards, just one measly yard shy of a touchdown. Had Baskerville scored, he would have become the first LSU player to score two special teams touchdowns in a game since Tommy Casanova. The only other player to pull it off was Pinky Rohm in 1947. Pinky Rohm is still the LSU all-time season leader in punt returns and Tommy Casanova is, well, Tommy Casanova. Those are the sort of guys who score two special teams touchdowns in a game, not a linebacker who doesn’t even return kicks. Micah Baskerville was a yard away from immortality.

201. LSU rushing yards, taking out the sack yardage. There has been legitimate concern over the running game, but the LSU backs averaged 5.0 yards by carry, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the way with a 7.6 yard average and 106 total rushing yards. The fumble looms large, but the running game came through in the first SEC game.

229. Ja’Marr Chase receiving yards. Chase had 10 catches, four of them for touchdowns. He’s a human cheat code. I don’t know what to say about the guy other than up up down down left right left right B A START.

5.1. Vanderbilt’s yard per play. That’s not a stellar defensive effort, but it’s not a travesty either. Riley Neal completed under 50 percent of his passes (15-31-206) and while Ke’Shawn Vaughn busted some big runs en route to rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns, the Commodores only averaged 4.3 yards per carry. The defense was down five starters including every expected starting pass rusher. It wasn’t a great performance, but it wasn’t as bad as you thought, and there’s a pretty good excuse. Let’s reserve judgment until the Florida game. Then, by all means, panic.