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Carl Dubois
Pacific Northwest
Member since Apr 2009
326 posts

LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test

During a long Saturday of college football, I saw LSU's past, present, future and the near future it should have instead of the one I think it will have.

On my way to Thibodaux to cover Ryan Perrilloux's return to Louisiana, I listened to Jim Hawthorne and Doug Moreau call the first half of LSU's 30-26 victory at Mississippi State. In the press box at John L. Guidry Stadium at Nicholls State, I watched the second half on my laptop.

Back home in Baton Rouge, I watched the game again thanks to DVR technology. Most of the day and night I kept telling myself I still saw an 8-4 team wearing purple and gold, and at times I was convinced this would be one of the four losses.

But back to my first sentence. Perrilloux was the ghost of LSU championships past, the haunting reminder of LSU's struggles at quarterback since 2007 and a display of the talent and fifth-year-senior leadership the Tigers could be taking to Georgia next weekend.

He was by far the best player on the field in Jacksonville State's 60-10 victory at Nicholls State. Adjusted for inflation and the lack of an SEC supporting cast around him, Perrilloux still showed why LSU would be a championship contender if he'd taken care of business and done his growing up in Baton Rouge instead of in Alabama.

An edited version of the story I wrote for The Associated Press talks a little bit about that. There's more later in this piece.

Meanwhile, LSU is 4-0, probably will be ranked in the top five by this afternoon -- and is quite delighted the Houston Astros didn't make Chad Jones an offer he couldn't refuse in the summer of 2007. Jones returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown and made two consecutive goal-line plays on defense, all of which changed the outcome Saturday.

The rain and wet ball affected this game, to be sure, and we'll never fully know the role weather did and didn't play in making it a close one, so let's not dwell on it. We also shouldn't spend much thought on LSU's Friday night and Saturday wakeup routine being severely altered by a morning kickoff -- and how lightning cut short the usual pregame warmups.

Teams whose coaches and players say their standard is championships, as Les Miles and the Tigers have been, don't use excuses about losing a few hours here and there. So let's treat them like a championship contender for now. Toss the early start out of the discussion.

The good

LSU did things worth celebrating Saturday. Patrick Peterson's interception return for a touchdown was a big play, and it probably owes more than many realize to Harry Coleman's effort and success in affecting the play.

The return game got the jumpstart it needed, and it came from Jones, a player Miles challenged to make his move. He did.

Jordan Jefferson's timing with Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver continues gliding in the right direction, and the passing game hit on long balls that helped give LSU cushion the Tigers would later need. There was a 40-yard pass to Toliver, and the deep post route LaFell ran in synch with Jefferson will play an ever bigger role in forcing opposing defenses to give more cushion than we've seen in the first month of the season.

Jefferson is improving in some of the subtleties that separate great quarterbacks from good ones. I don't think he's done.

The bad and the ugly

There was all of that and more, but LSU did things worth criticizing Saturday.

Jefferson was under too much pressure from State's defense. There was a time during LSU's baseball season when I thought opposing teams should have bunted on the Tigers again and again to make LSU prove it could consistently defend the short game, and I wonder if we're about to see a football version of that.

I wonder if we're about to see SEC defenses blitz the LSU football team again and again. Had Jefferson and his receivers not made strides in keeping State honest with the vertical passing game, I'd have said to bet the farm on it. We'll see.

A good bit of "fancy" on offense seemed unnecessary on a wet day -- and didn't fool State's defense. LSU's lack of dominant line play means it can't be the power running team Miles would love the Tigers to be, and they're not clicking enough to be the explosive air game their talent suggests they can be.

Balance and timing, therefore, are crucial -- as is good judgment on play calls.

Is there an outside running game?

I'll ascribe snap, hold and kick problems largely to the wet conditions, but it's still a concern.

State should not have been able to turn a busted play into a 50-yard touchdown pass and celebration against this LSU defense. Not like that.

LSU had four takeaways in the first half and couldn't knock out Mississippi State. That's telling.

Speaking of the Bulldogs ... Dan Mullen's offense was impressive. BUT ...

You don't give it to your power back, Anthony Dixon, on either third-and-inches or fourth-and-inches? Bad. Real bad.

Quarterback Tyson Lee is going to learn to extend the ball when he's that close. All it has to do is break the plane of the goal line, and if someone knocks it loose after that, it means nothing. So, that's your ballgame right there.

Watching a game in person at Manning Field at Nicholls State while watching the LSU game on the Internet reminded me how Archie won his first game with the New Orleans Saints by lunging and sticking the ball across the plane. The Los Angeles Rams popped it from his grip, but too late. He'd scored the winning touchdown.

If Mullen is the caretaker of quarterbacks his reputation says he is, he's already had that conversation with Lee.

Final thoughts about Perrilloux

As I've said before, a veteran Perrilloux who plays for his teammates and makes decisions with them in mind would be a tremendous asset at LSU this season and would cover up a lot of growing pains.

"We had a game we played at home (last year), and it was the open week for LSU, and I'm over there talking to Ryan and look up, and there must have been 15 LSU players right up there above him," Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe said Saturday. "He's had a chemistry with every football team he's ever been with. He's got a chemistry with this one.

"He can lead a football team. He can make the plays. He's a great player. He's got me in his corner, I can tell you that."

Crowe said he's never heard Perrilloux say a negative word about anyone he's played with or played for, despite the troubles he had before enrolling at Jacksonville State.

"That's classy to me," Crowe said. "The thing that started making a big mark with me that I could trust him was because he wasn't looking to find somebody to blame his problems on."

Crowe said Perrilloux is good enough to play anywhere in the country, despite any perception he's had to settle for playing at a program with a low profile.

"He was the No. 1 player in the country coming out, right?" Crowe said. "I love you, LSU, but if you had him he'd be the No. 1 player for your team too."

The past was water under the little bayou bridge near the Nicholls State campus Saturday, and yet you could still feel the ripple effects in LSU's program.

Final thoughts about the Tigers

Jones was the hero, with his punt return, his pass breakup on State's third-and-goal play and his stop on the fourth-and-goal option. After teammates checked Lee's initial progress, Dreadlocks of Doom drove him back, preventing any second effort.

There is something to be said for surviving a game like this one, and I suspect it built more character and confidence than many would have wagered before they went to bed Saturday night.

Now, finally, the season is here. Georgia. Florida. Auburn.

Between the Tulane and Louisiana Tech games, Alabama. Then, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

What's going to happen? I still lean toward 8-4, but I don't have a crystal ball. LSU has two.

With an eye to the future, I can say this: What sinks a major program is never anything external. This program -- players, coaches and fans included -- would eat itself or implode before a rival could have a chance to do anything to torpedo it.

With an eye to the past, I can say this: Ten years ago, when I arrived on the LSU beat, a 4-0 start and a top-five ranking would have been celebrated. If Halloween came at the start of October instead of at the end, the hot costume in town this year would feature Dreadlocks of Dread.

I suppose that's a measure of how far LSU has come in a decade. I suspect the next month will have a lot to say about how far the Tigers may have slipped in two years.

.

Carl Dubois
has written or blogged about LSU sports since 1999. You can contact him at carl1061 'at' gmail.com, but don't expect a reply before noon Sunday. He plans to sleep in after a tiring Saturday.


Raparooot
LSU Fan
Central, LA
Member since Jan 2009
3622 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Dubois - Another good read but I'm a little surprised that you didn't mention Shepard in your article. He was THE MAN in the first half and was not used in the second half. Sound familiar? Remember how Charles Scott ripped through Kentucky in the first half of the 2007 game and only had a few carries the second half?
Shepard has proven he can handle the load and is averaging at least 7 yards per touch so he has to have the ball. Your 8-4 prediction still looks solid if they don't get their act together. Thanks for the read.


Bayou
LSU Fan
CenLA
Member since Feb 2005
34746 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
I'll continue with my 9-3 prediction


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OTIS2
LSU Fan
NoLA
Member since Jul 2008
48444 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Always a good read.Thanks.


Thomas the Tiger
LSU Fan
Member since Jan 2009
1311 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
quote:

Dubois - Another good read but I'm a little surprised that you didn't mention Shepard in your article. He was THE MAN in the first half and was not used in the second half. Sound familiar? Remember how Charles Scott ripped through Kentucky in the first half of the 2007 game and only had a few carries the second half?


you make good points, hes a weapon, hes also very young, but i agree he needs more touches. I have noticed that since 2006, this team has been loaded with offensive talent and with the exception of 2007 - (Hester use) - this offense seems to forget about some of its most dangerous weapons , Murphey, K. Williams T. Holiday, just saying talent is a great problem to have, but these coaches get paid alot to utilize that talent


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ApexTiger
LSU Fan
cary nc
Member since Oct 2003
52391 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Thanks Carl, good read as always..

Something is missing, we all know it... Just a matter of time before Miles seat gets real hot!

We all hope we are wrong... We have players. but the mental toughness and focus or intensity, something is missing.. We can't put anybody away.


One quick thought... one series it appeared maybe Shep stopped the flow of the drive, but on the 2 others, he was explosive making big plays.. he never got back in the game in the 2nd half? why?

The top teams in America are starting true freshman all over the feild, especial skill positions...

Shep needs more touches... Les needs to spread defenses out and start putting pressure on Defenses with a vertical passing game and Shep running nuts in open field.

we can't run off tackle this year, lets move on!


Hot Stuff
Tulane Fan
Chocolate City
Member since Feb 2009
364 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
What bowl is Ryan Perriloux takin his team to this year?


mcpotiger
LSU Fan
Missouri
Member since Mar 2005
5992 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Good read. I can easily see 8-4. TO be honest I think 7-5 may be more likely...


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LSUGradATL
UNO Fan
Warsawa/ATL
Member since Jul 2007
10497 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
quote:

Something is missing, we all know it...


"Swagga"


2007lsuno1
LSU Fan
Marietta, GA
Member since Aug 2009
6692 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Carl, another great read. I too, like most of you become a little frustrated with the Tigers not being able to consistantly score and put people away. But let's remember, LSU GAVE Miss ST 9 points too.
This coming weekend is gonna be scary. With the likes of Georgia, Florida, Alabama etc, LSU can not continue with this same kind of play. While every fiber of my being wants to beleive we are a top 5 team, I have to admit, if we don't make a huge change in the way we play, 8-5 is probably right on (that hurts). It's show time folks, let the games begin.


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edmonstg
LSU Fan
Member since Apr 2009
10 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Sad to say it but undefeated comes to an end this Saturday.

LSU is going to lose between the hedges and find itself looking up at Boise State, fresh from its victory over Cal Davis.

Boise is three losses away from No. 1. The absurdity of the polls may soon have its perfect storm.

LSU may lose the rest of its SEC games.

Earlier this year, I'm the guy who said LSU didn't have the pitching to go to Omaha.



TenTex
LSU Fan
Member since Jan 2008
15949 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Good read. I hope this team is gelling before it's too late.


TigerWoody
LSU Fan
btwn where I was & where I will be
Member since Dec 2007
11387 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
I like the subtle jab at LSU fans at the end of the article, Carl...then low and behold along comes Taparoot as the first response giving full credence to your point. Good stuff Carl!


CunningLinguist
Florida State Fan
Dallas, TX
Member since Mar 2006
18160 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
quote:


Earlier this year, I'm the guy who said LSU didn't have the pitching to go to Omaha.


Where? You've got one freaking post.
I do think LSU has a shot at UGA next week only because UGA is a team struggling just as much as LSU right now. Maybe this win will let LSU rally the troops and pull off the "upset" on the road.


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Hoodatt
LSU Fan
Member since Feb 2005
2579 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Carl, I appreciate your observations and musings. I look forward to reading your articles.

Just one point to contend with:

quote:

State should not have been able to turn a busted play into a 50-yard touchdown pass and celebration against this LSU defense. Not like that.


The game announcers said it was a design play that almost got busted, not a busted play. The back, #32, lined up on the right end spot, hit his block and ran out to the flat. Kind of like the play we ran with Dickson last year for a touchdown against the Gamecocks.

It does not excuse us from not defending the play, but it was a gimmick play designed to catch us off-guard on a fourth and inches situation, kind of like the third-down pass on the goal line.


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SOCAL TIGER
LSU Fan
SOCAL
Member since Jan 2005
10420 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
Great read and I hope that all the talk of saving plays, players, shcemes and intensity are true. We will find out in this next month if Les is the man to lead this program. If we are 7-1 at the end of October then we can all fell better. This month will shape our season.


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NewYorkTiger
LSU Fan
new york
Member since Jan 2007
171 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
quote:

With an eye to the past, I can say this: Ten years ago, when I arrived on the LSU beat, a 4-0 start and a top-five ranking would have been celebrated.


Enjoyed your piece. I found the second to last paragraph the most telling. Back in the day, we would have been celebrating the incredible goal line stand. Now, everyone is talking about how underachieving and bad the team is. I guess that's what comes with success, but it's unfortunate and, frankly, depressing


LSUGradATL
UNO Fan
Warsawa/ATL
Member since Jul 2007
10497 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
quote:

I like the subtle jab at LSU fans at the end of the article


Dont forget, in the end the fans have the power. Joe Dean refused to fire Curley until game after game of a half filled stadium. Money talks, BS walks. Just saying...


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zeebo
LSU Fan
Hammond
Member since Jan 2008
5016 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
7-5 or 12-0, or anything in between. enjoy the ride.


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sml71
LSU Fan
Run if you hear banjos.
Member since Dec 2005
4146 posts

re: LSU: 4-0, highly ranked and about to be put to the test
RP is a real talent and all, but LSU would still have had a pourous defense last year with RP at QB. LSU would still have issues on both lines this year with RP at QB...so don't get to wistful about what "woudl've been" had RP kept his nose clean and been able to stay at LSU.


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