LSU / SEC Week 5 Recap

I was, until Saturday, a pessimist about LSU’s 2009 season. There was, quite frankly, not much to be enthusiastic about. And with the October games against Georgia, Florida and Auburn on the horizon, I hadn’t seen much at all to project a lot of success.

And while I am still not ready to predict greatness for this team, I saw things in Athens Saturday that give me a lot more hope and have me looking forward to more than just good food, drinks and seeing friends this weekend in Baton Rouge.

LSU had drives of 54, 37, 56, 65 and 19 yards in the first half. Georgia had drives of 7, 3, 33, 4 and 2 yards. Yes, LSU came away with just a 6-0 lead after that, but dominance on both sides of the ball has been hard to come by this year. Net difference of 182 yards in LSU drives over UGA drives in the first half. Compare that to LSU’s net difference in first-half drive yards against MSU (-37), USL (15), Vandy (112) and Washington (-91) to understand the difference. A great team turns that half into something like a 24-0 lead, which is quite helpful to manage the kind of drought LSU had in the third quarter (producing -7 yards on just two drives and yielding the lead to Georgia on a 7:32 drive that went 60 yards).

But LSU answered with an 88-yard touchdown drive and the winning penalty/Holliday/Scott drive in the fourth quarter. And after giving up two long touchdown drives to Georgia snuffed out the Dawgs’ final effort.

Dominated a half, but failed to fully capitalize. Held Georgia to 17 more yards and three more points than they got against Oklahoma State. Rang up its highest total offense numbers of the season against the toughest opponent so far. All in all, a lot of progress and leaves a reasonable amount of hope for a good game against Florida.

As for my suggestion about how LSU could win this game – we had more success (early) running in the middle than I would have thought, but the big hits on the ground were Jefferson’s scramble and Scott’s touchdown runs in the 4th quarter. Both of which were on the edges. Russell Shepard was also effective (6 carries, 32 yards – 5.3 average), but mysteriously disappeared from the game for most of the second half. I think he might have been being punished for his “fumble” as I saw him away from the coaches with his helmet off when LSU had the ball a lot after that.

We did throw the ball in the middle a lot, with more short and intermediate routes than home-run balls. But overall it was a pretty conservative air attack.

Defensively, A.J. Green was, of course, the key to UGA’s attack. He did account for 36% of the Bulldogs’ total offense, but caught just 27% of Georgia’s receptions (he was averaging 37% of catches and 30% of total offense). LSU contained him to 1.25 fewer catches and 8 fewer yards that his average going in to the game. That LSU held him to that while also giving up 67 fewer rushing yards than Georgia had been averaging is success.

So I’m happy today. And I’m really looking forward to the Florida game now.

Some random thoughts:

The Green penalty. I think the celebration rule as written is stupid, so of course I think that call was stupid. But for any Dawg fans who feel cheated out of a win, please consider:

- UGA takes the lead; gets ridiculous unsportsmanlike penalty; kicks from the 15 with 1:17 left.
- LSU returned the ensuing kick 40 yards and got another 5 from a UGA illegal procedure on the kick.
- LSU starts at UGA 38 with 1:02 left.
- LSU scores in two plays totaling 8 seconds on the game clock.
- LSU takes the lead; gets ridiculous unsportsmanlike penalty; kicks from the 15 with 54 seconds left.
- UGA returned the ensuing kick 10 yards.
- UGA starts at their own 33 with 42 seconds left.
- UGA loses six yards, throws an incompletion then throws a pick.

Execution, not excuses.

The scene. I’ll admit I have a fairly negative view of Georgia nowadays. It’s in large part a factor of having to live among their fans and also a factor of Mark Richt seeming very much like these Promise Keeper types that inhabit the Atlanta suburbs and whom I’m not very fond of. Then there’s the whole stupid “blackout” stuff.

But Athens is a great place for some football. Sanford Stadium is my third-favorite SEC venue (behind Tiger Stadium and The Swamp), but it was pretty dead for most of the game. And unlike The Swamp and Tiger Stadium, I think it’s a place that looks and feels best in the afternoon. Watching the TV version in HD, you see a really great SEC scene with the red of the stadium and UGA players and the white jerseys and purple and gold of LSU out in the sunshine. Beautiful, and it’s a shame that it’s been five years since I’ve been there – but that’s how the West/East schedule crumbles.

And since it’ll probably be another five years before I go back, here’s a tip for intown Atlantans – take the Stone Mountain Freeway. Yes, lots of red-lights for a while, but nobody goes that way. We may have seen a dozen other game-bound cars on our way out before hitting the solid wall of traffic when we came together with Ga. 316.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Auburn piled up 459 yards on Tennessee, a full 136 more yards than Florida threw down on the Vols. Of course, the War Eagles also gave the Vols 200 more yards than Florida did. But Auburn couldn’t ask to be in a better position than they are right now, and even over a weak Tennessee, this was a big win.

Alabama wore down Kentucky, but I really don’t know that much about the game. But the Tide still sits high up in SEC rankings in offense and defense, so they’re doing OK.

Ole Miss beat Vandy pretty well, but it was expected. They get Bama this week.

Georgia Tech outlasted Mississippi State, with the Jackets surprisingly putting up more offense in the air than on the ground, more than doubling their previous passing average and coming in 50 yards under their rushing average. Not sure I understand that, but OK.

Arkansas dispatched Texas A&M as I suspected, though the Hogs’ defense fared better than I expected.

South Carolina beat their patsy.

For the week: 7-0; for the season 38-4.

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One Response to “LSU / SEC Week 5 Recap”

  1. Howard Fore says:

    If I’m not picking up anyone on the north side of town, I usually take I-20 east to the Ga 138 exit in Conyers, then follow that north to US 78, then to 316 and the Athens “by-pass”.

    I was really unhappy for most of the game, the Dogs couldn’t get anything going. The LSU defense was by far the best we’ve seen this season. As well as the Georgia defense did at keeping the Tigers out of the endzone I thought that LSU’s “hurry-up” style of offense really kept the defense on edge.

    I don’t feel cheated, but I think it was a stupid penalty, even the ref that called it has come out and said that he feels sorry about it. But then refs only have their own viewpoint when they’re at the game, not the benefit of multiple camera angles. And Georgia compounded it by lining up incorrectly for the kickoff.

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