Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SOAPBOX: While I Was Out...

Well, if ANYONE is still reading this blog, I apologize. The short story is that I was sent on duty without internet access. I'm back now.

I'm so far behind that I'm not going to try to catch up completely. And, since I didn't even watch most of the Kentucky debacle, I won't even try to offer an intelligent analysis of that.

So, here's what I'm thinking.

OFFENSE: Matt Flynn, after a tough start, played very well against Auburn. Even with a few key LaDropped passes, Flynn's poise and leadership showed itself again and again as the game wore on. His running looked strong as well. Early Doucet, even less than 100%, proved how invaluable he is to the team. The offensive line continues to struggle protecting Flynn. And RP didn't really look like he contributed much. And, of course, he fumbled the damn ball at a critical time.

DEFENSE: The weakest link continues to be the lack of a credible pass rush combined with a linebacker corps that is strong against the run but not so strong covering the pass. Craig Steltz continues to make a lot of great plays and the secondary has, for the most part, avoided giving up the big play. But without a good pass rush, the Tigers will find it very tough to keep any reasonable quarterback from scoring. Plus the run will open up. And what is up with the missed tackles. I get the feeling that the defense is over-pursuing - allowing agile runners and QBs to step aside, make them miss, and turn a blown play into yardage. If we're blitzing, it doesn't seem to be working.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Fisher is a great punter. Crutchfield seems to be kicking well. David is a good field goal/extra point man. But the punt return team is mediocre bordering on scary. Kickoff returns have been modest at best as well.

OVERALL: I'm uneasy.

THE GOOD: LSU is 7-1, with wins against Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Florida and Auburn. The offense has pulled it together and Doucet seems to be back. Matt Flynn may be peaking at exactly the right time. Penalties are down as well. And our coaches aren't scared of taking chances. This team doesn't quit and I really think Flynn's poise has something to do with that.

THE BAD: It appears the gig is up on the defense. Their weaknesses have been exposed and they've been proven to be beatable, even the front four. Dorsey took a horrible chop block and we'll see how that plays out for him, but even with him the Tiger defense has had a tough year getting to the QB. Thank goodness our secondary has been able to provide good coverage.

THE UGLY: There isn't any ugly. Just an uneasy feeling that the rest of the season could go either way. I would hope that the week off will provide the defense with enough rest to return to some of its early season prowess. But I have a feeling Bo Pelini's schemes have been outed, and the D-line and linebackers aren't able to stop a decent QB.

CONCLUSION: The rest of the season will probably rise or set on the offense's ability to put up points. The defense will probably continue to put up one or two great 3 and outs per half, but they will also be had once or twice. I'm guessing Bama and Arkansas, for sure, will score more than 10. And Ole Miss has put points on some pretty decent opposition this season. But the offense has been productive, even when the defense has failed to come up with a stop.

So this season may come down to the offense coming through for the defense's weakness, which noone would have predicted at the beginning (or even first four weeks) of the season.

Based on the offensive production against Florida and Auburn, I think LSU still has a shot to win it all. But the defense is going to have to step up with a few more stops and a couple more sacks and takeaways per game.

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