There are a couple of ways one could view LSU’s 23 – 9 win over Vandy on Saturday night. The cynical view would be that the Tigers under-performed against a weaker SEC team at home, and that portends bad things down the road. The believer’s view would be that the Tigers shut down an under-rated offense, held off a spunky SEC up-and-comer and didn’t fold in the face of a tough battle in tough conditions.
And I think the truth lies somewhere in between. Offensively, the Tigers were pretty conservative, but ultimately efficient enough to get the job done. I can’t really fault the coaches for not opening up the passing game on a rainy night with a young quarterback. It would have been comforting to see Jordan Jefferson have a 300-yard game or something, but if the strategy is to build this offense up slowly over our first four games (the easier ones), I’m fine with that. We saw a little bit from Russell Shepard, who learned about SEC hits and fumbles, Reuben Randle got more game experience – but still hasn’t been thrown to – and R.J. Jackson caught six passes on the night. The offense isn’t putting up big numbers (326 total yards on the night), but there are a lot of guys getting experience in the game. It would feel better to be putting up 40+ points, but I think the strategy is smart.
Defensively, the numbers weren’t bad even if the Tigers didn’t seem dominant. Just 210 total yards given up, 122 on the ground. If you buy Vandy as a legitimate offense, that’s not horrible. But there were still moments of confusion and missed assignments. We’ll see whether that gets fixed like one would expect, or lingers and becomes the team’s big problem like last year.
I get the feeling, though, that the mass exodus of fans in the middle of the game had as much to do with the memories of 2008 as the rain. And I can understand that. Right now I would not call LSU a serious contender for the SEC West, much less the conference title. But we’ll see where the team is come Oct. 3 in Athens.
Elsewhere in the SEC:
The Cocks and Dawgs running up 78 points, 956 yards of total offense and 735 in passing yards was, to say the least, a surprise. This one will take a bit of time to digest. Georgia gets Arkansas and then Arizona State in the next two weeks, so we’ll see if yesterday or the opening loss to Oklahoma State is the character of this team. Same for South Carolina. This game’s results and both teams’ openers does not compute.
Tennessee managed just 208 yards of offense against UCLA after throwing down 657 yards in their patsy opener. And despite holding the Bruins to 186 yards, the Vols didn’t have enough juice to close the deal. Pretty surprising turnaround, and not a good sign as the Vols head down to take on Florida this week. I had picked Tennessee here, but clearly they weren’t up to the task.
And then there’s Auburn putting up 49 points and 589 yards against Mississippi State after throwing 556 yards down against La. Tech. It’s too early in the season to mean much, but the War Eagles are ranked No. 4 nationally in total offense. Yeah, that’s a pretty big surprise and a strong start. If Auburn and Mississippi State are supposed to represent the middle or bottom of the SEC West, clearly Auburn is well ahead of MSU this season.
Alabama and Florida were playing the patsies this week and performed as expected. Not much to learn from either game.
For the week: 5-1; for the season 15-3