- We make entirely too many mistakes; and
- You only have so much right to complain about winning a game on the road in the SEC.
Demetrius Byrd in man coverage = good things for LSU.I think this is exactly right. Byrd, to me, has been the biggest positive surprise of the midseason. I really didn't expect a late-arriving JUCO guy to be able to contribute at receiver on this team. After his underwhelming first couple of games (he had 4 catches total in his first 4 games), I figured he'd top out at a little-used supporting role player. Hoo boy was that wrong? He's easily our best wide receiver whose first name is not an adjective.
Tyson Jackson gets a lot of penalties for late hits, but he gets more batted-down passes. He's got great vision and knack for that.He's gotten two penalties for late hits that I can remember, but both were huge. One probably cost us the Kentucky game, and the second one almost cost us the Bama game. The Kentucky one was very clear. He hit the QB in the head twice on that play, and a call was certain. I didn't quite buy this one. Yeah, Wilson had thrown the ball. Yes, Jackson hit him hard. But I didn't think it was particularly late, or not late enough to draw a call. That penalty was pretty questionable and it ended up being HUGE.
Chad Jones made a few timely big plays. The coaches made a timely decision to put Doucet in to field punts after Jones bobbled one.This kid looks incredible. He will be an absolute stud next year and will be the best safety in the country as a junior. That said, I actually kind of like him as a punt returner. I know he bobbled one, but he's been the only punt returner to show any kind of gumption back there. I don't know why we can't seem to get any kind of explosion in the return game. With all the athletes we have, why don't we have one who can occasionally bust a return? Even Holliday isn't exactly tearing it up when he gets the ball on kickoffs, and Keiland has done almost nothing on kick returns.
Lafell deserved to be demoted, but he responded well when we finally got him the ball on those underneath routes late in the game. That should help his confidence.According to my brother, Lafell is the one who blew the tackle on the Arenas punt return. I haven't looked at it on replay yet, but he said we had it covered, with a wall of players there, but he ran right to Lafell who whiffed the tackle and then he was gone. That said, Lafell is going to be a heck of a player. He has size and speed and route-running ability. He just needs to get the drops out of his head. He reminds me some of Doucet/Bowe in 2005 when they dropped so many balls. I don't think he's got the talent of a Bowe or Doucet, but he's very solid, perhaps one notch below those guys. If he gets back into the game mentally, he'll have a future in the NFL.
One player I was very impressed with in this game was Darry Beckwith. He's been an unsung hero all year, but on Saturday I thought he was our 2nd best defensive player (I won't say who our best was, but he is VERY VERY big). I saw a post on Tigerdroppings calling him out and saying he was "exposed", and I wondered if this guy watched the same game I watched. I saw Beckwith all over the field making tackles. I also saw him playing despite a shoulder injury and a leg injury of some kind. He was much more visible than, say, Ali Highsmith, and if anyone was exposed or abused it was Danny McCray.
Speaking of McCray, I wouldn't be surprised to see young Mr. Jones take over his spot at nickel back. Several of Bama's big plays came when they caught McCray in single coverage against a receiver.
I don't really have much else to say about the action on the field. After the game, Nick Saban was very gracious on the field. He congratulated Matt Flynn and said, "I hope y'all do it," and he congratulated Les Miles. After this game, as far as I am concerned, the special animosity towards Saban and Bama is greatly diminished. I'm still looking forward to getting them in Tiger Stadium next year though. That will be fun.
Next we get La Tech. The Bulldogs are 4-5 on the season, with some close losses against decent teams (Hawaii, Boise State). They were blown out by Cal and by Ole Miss, and their best win was against New Mexico State. Statistically, nothing really stands out about them. They appear to be a somewhat balanced team offensively, with 1725 yards passing and 1589 yards rushing. They've played low-scoring games (losing 17-6 to Fresno State) and high scoring games (losing 45-44 to Hawaii and 45-31 to Boise). Sure, we're a better team, but this team doesn't look awful from where I'm sitting.
I want to see fundamental football. Avoid penalties and turnovers and put the game away early.