LSU’s 34-9 win over Tulane was far uglier than the score. If you hadn’t watched the game or reviewed the statistics, you might think LSU glided to an easy out of conference win, saving the big guns for next week’s showdown with Florida. But that’s obviously not what happened. The Tigers - mostly the offense - struggled mightily against an opponent that Vegas gave 40 points. Loyal Tulane fans with gambling tendencies made some money last night to ease the pain of what might have been…actually it was never going to be, but you can’t tell a fan that.
There will be much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands this week among the Tiger faithful - and for some valid reasons. LSU had 15 penalties, one resulting in a safety! Flynn was sacked six times and hurried another 12 or so. He looked harassed and immobile and he threw another long interception into coverage. The offensive line looked lost all of the first half and most of the game. Brandon LaFell pulled up lame after a long reception and played injured the remainder of the game. So, now our starting QB and our best two receivers are hurting. And the defense played tough but gave up above average points and offensive yards against, let’s face it, a team that ought to be playing in 1-AA. And next week, Florida comes to town with a talented team that will be hell bent on an upset to prove that their loss to Auburn yesterday was a fluke. Certainly we’d rather have had an overconfident Gator team coming to Baton Rouge next Saturday night than an angry, focused, desperate team.
There is, however, a very silver lining to yesterday’s results. I mean, besides the fact that a win is a win is a win.
First of all, LSU played what is arguably their worst football game in two years - and won easily. The depth, strength and conditioning of this team allowed them to withstand a firestorm in the first half and eventually wear the Green Wave down. Emotion can elevate a team’s play, but is almost impossible to sustain. LSU kept it’s collective cool and allowed the firestorm to burn itself out. Then, they beat Tulane in a business-like manner.
Second, the LSU defense continues to create opportunities and turnovers. Tulane punted TEN TIMES. That says two things to me: the LSU defense played a lot of football, and they played very well. Tulane also attempted a plethora of trick plays, mostly in the first half, none of which worked. Craig Steltz delivered another series of punishing hits. And the defensive front was stingy again, allowing only 88 yards rushing. Nine points is a fine result. Considering that two of those nine were given up by the offense, yesterday’s score looks even better from a defensive perspective.
Third, the running game eventually showed up. Once that happened, the offense was only stopped by themselves. Charles Scott looks very good. And who knew Trindon Holliday could not only break tackles but drag guys with him. Does he even weigh 150 pounds? What a fighter! I still think our offense is building up steam for a well-timed peak around the Kentucky game, plus or minus a game. If the line can stop killing themselves with penalties and protect the QB a little better, then I think we’re going to see an offensive surge in the second half of the season.
Fourth, although I’m not pumped about having to play a wounded and angry Gator team on Saturday, I am very pleased that we might not have to play them twice this year to make it through the SEC championship game. At this point, I’d much rather tempt fate with South Carolina or Kentucky. All of them are strong teams, but Florida is talented and dangerous, specifically on offense. And Tebow, as goofy as he is, is a dangerous QB - the kind of runner that can make the LSU defense look fallible.
So, my advice to the Tiger faithful is to look at the positives - LSU played what I hope will be its worst game of the season and won easily. Now that they’ve got that out of their system, the Tigers can chalk up a series of solid victories against a strong SEC lineup. Don’t participate in the orgy of worry that is bound to persist until next Saturday - beat it down wherever you find it.
This is a great team, with a great coaching staff. They believe in themselves and each other and they are taking this season one game at a time. The Tulane game is over. Those stupid uniforms are over. Now it’s Florida on a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. It doesn’t get any better than that.