Well…I Guess We Said It: A Look At What We’ve Said About LSU This Year
Here are some thoughts we published previously on the LSU Tigers. Enjoy and get ready. Chad the intern (@Chad_Floyd) and Andrew Hall (@DudeYouCrazy) will be bringing live coverage from Athens starting around 9 a.m. via the Tweeting Mechanism. So follow along. Also, follow this guy for a good laugh.
From Andrew Hall’s “A Way Too Early Look at Georgia vs. LSU” (Feb. 18, 2013)
- I don’t really know how good the LSU Tigers were in 2012. I thought I had them pegged at the season’s midpoint – they were a bipolar squad (a la Georgia) that could play with the best or the worst on any given day. They pushed Alabama to the brink before falling short 21-17. But, they beat Auburn by the abysmal score of 12-10.
- My gut tells me that LSU’s offense struggles (against just about everybody) and that a young Georgia defense playing in its fourth overall game and third game against a top-15 opponent will be able to hold its own. My gut says that the loss of two running backs (Spencer Ware and Michael Ford) and four offensive linemen to the NFL Draft is going to put a lot of pressure on Zach Mettenberger. And, my gut tells me that Georgia’s seasoned offense is going to take advantage of a defense that is missing eight starters from 2012.
- This game is going to come down to Zach Mettenberger’s ability to “take the next step.” It may be that simple. The whole Murray vs. Mettenberger storyling is already making me nauseous. I’m tired of hearing about it.
From Chad Floyd’s “Three Keys to Each Game of Georgia’s September Gauntlet” (May 31, 2013)
- LSU has established its reputation as a big, mean, fast, physical team in the Nick Saban and Les Miles eras. With powerful backs Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, and Kenny Hilliard running at a young Georgia defense, it is critical that the three calendar weeks between South Carolina and LSU (bye, UNT, practice) be used to find 8-10 capable bodies to neutralize the running attack. Barring an 0-2 Georgia start, this will be the 3:30 CBS game that day, and staying fresh into the 4th quarter is critical.
- I’m not going to rehash 2011 SEC Championship memories on this column after causing PTSD with the S.C. breakdown, but LSU is always strong in special teams. While there is no established Patrick Peterson or Tyrann Mathieu returning kicks for the Tigers yet, it does not mean one will not emerge.
- Also, Les Miles is not afraid to allow special teams to determine the outcome of the game. Punter Brad Wing (the only punter I’ve ever known to declare for the NFL early) is gone, but you can count on at least one crazy fake field goal or punt on this big stage. If you’re not familiar with Wing, he’s in some ways punting’s equivalent to Sebastian Janikowski. Strong leg, trouble child, suspended for a bowl game, and famously scoring a 52-yard touchdown against Florida that was called back for excessive celebration.
- While modern-day LSU is characterized by the Mad Hatter being the luckiest man in sports, I think there is something to be said in the theory that preparation can create luck. Expecting the unexpected against the Tigers is a must. If the game is within 10 points in the final 7-10 minutes, there is really no telling what could happen.
- QB Zach Mettenberger is famously (more likely infamously) making his return to Sanford Stadium, and adding to the intrigue is the fact that he’ll likely want to make his presence known to Bulldog fans. While an overly-hyped Mettenberger could be a blessing for the Dawgs, the combination of him and Les Miles’ uncanny ability to pull wins from where the sun don’t shine would make for a very nervous crowd of 92,000 in the closing minutes of this game.
From Andrew Hall’s “Previewing LSU: A great team, a great schedule…great success?” (Aug. 7, 2013)
- I opened this preview series with Alabama for no other reason than my own lack of creativity and my over-reliance on alphabetic order. But, if I had started with the best team in the SEC, I also would have started with the Tide. And, if that was the case and the window I was examining was the past four years, LSU would have been second on the list.
To understand how good LSU has been over the past four years, you have to understand how good Alabama has been. I think I established that last week, but for a quick recap:
- Alabama has won two consecutive National Championships.
- Alabama has won three of the last four National Championships.
- Alabama has lost just five games over the last four years.
Two of those losses came to LSU. In the past four years, Alabama has a .600 winning percentage against the Tigers and a .939 winning percentage against the rest of the world. LSU has won two of its last three regular season matchups with the Tide. With the exception of the National Championship Game in January of 2012 (a game that found LSU in the middle of a lockerroom power struggle), none of these matchups has been decided by more than nine points. The last four regular season battles have been split and Alabama holds an overall scoring edge of just 72-65.
- LSU lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball. I talked at length about that here. But, unlike other schools (Georgia for instance), LSU reloads its defense. There is no rebuilding. I have no doubt that LSU’s defense will reload despite losing seven big contributors from a year ago.
- LSU once again faces a brutal schedule. The Tigers do as well as anybody when scheduling out-of-conference games, and this year they open with TCU in Dallas. They draw Florida and Georgia (two of the East’s three best teams) and have to travel to Alabama. That’s no easy group, but those games are spread out quite nicely. TCU comes on August 31st at Cowboy Stadium. Four weeks later the Tigers come to Athens, GA. Two weeks later, the Gators come to Baton Rouge. Four weeks later LSU plays at Alabama. Two weeks later Texas A&M comes to the Bayou.
- Depending on the outcome of the Georgia game, LSU wins either 10 or 11 games.
From Chad Floyd’s “A Big, Purple Roadblock: Previewing LSU” (Sept. 26)
- LSU has yet to be challenged in opening 4-0, and no the final score against Auburn (35-21) does not tell the story of the (LSU) Tigers manhandling Auburn and going into cruise control once up 3 TD’s. This is the strongest opponent Georgia will face all year, even with a defense with no established stars yet.
- The keys for Georgia are threefold: 1) keep the LSU offense off schedule on 1st and 2nd down, where run accounts for 73% of their plays. On third and long, Mettenberger isn’t a threat to scramble for many first downs, so doubling the two wideouts and perhaps bringing a number of disguised blitzes from all over the place (and using the speed of the defense against big, slow linemen) is the best way to get off the field. I trust Todd Grantham to have some interesting looks dialed up.
This brings up 2) make Zach Mettenberger uncomfortable. This is the same guy who looked downright awful for 2/3 of the season last year, and he will be playing a homecoming game with a (WILL BE OVERUSED AS A STORYLINE CLICHE ALERT) chip on his shoulder, wanting to make Georgia regret letting him go. Using his adrenaline and aggressiveness to its advantage, Georgia could hope for some overthrows and forces if it can rattle the ‘stache early.
3) Unfortunately, LSU WILL stay on schedule with the run more often than not. In third and short, LSU is at its most dangerous. Hill is a one-cut terror who can run over or around DB’s, and is a threat to go the distance against a stacked box if players don’t win their individual battles or maintain gap discipline. The Tigers also employ a one-step quick slant to both Landry and Beckham against man, and it’s almost impossible to stop. In these situations, pressing at the line and playing the safeties deep in case something goes wrong is the best bet.
- We know the strength of Georgia’s offense at this point, and that is balance. Aaron Murray is throwing for a ludicrous 12.6 yards per ATTEMPT thus far this season, and I’ll disagree with colleague Daniel Palmer’s evaluation that a lack of a true #1 receiver hurts the Bulldogs. JSW, Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, and Arthur Lynch can all become de-facto #1′s based on what the defense is giving them, and I expect Murray to find out who that is early on and make him an integral part of the passing attack early.
Personnel-wise, much has been made about LSU’s loss of 11 guys to the NFL draft on defense. However, they still boast the best pair of tackles in the league (Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson), so running between the tackles may not be as viable an option as it has been the first month of the season. I think I speak for all of us when I say I want to see Keith Marshall employed outside the tackles, and this could be the week he gets loose (or so I hope after 3 games of banging heads against a wall with him between the tackles). The Tigers also possess two headhunters at safety (Craig Loston at 6’2 209 and Ronald Martin at 6’1 219). Loston is good enough in coverage to be a problem, but isolating Martin 1-on-1 may prove fruitful for the Dawgs.
I’m not worried about Georgia having success on offense, as this should go down as LSU’s worst defensive performance of the season. As long as we don’t get too cute with the playcalling and substitutions (looking your way, offensive line) enough points to win the game will be available.
- Barring any egregious, game-changing mistakes by Georgia’s special teams (NOTE: we’re not due for any until about 2017), I think Georgia wins on the strength of an underappreciatedly-historically-good offense and a raucous capacity crowd.
Let’s call it Georgia 30, LSU 24, and about 19 hours of fun in Athens on Saturday.