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Hobbs Column: Mystery solved: Defense finally looks like Tigers of old

Last Modified: Monday, October 14, 2013 2:05 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

BATON ROUGE — On Saturday LSU’s dynamic offense was held to season lows in points, passing yards, total yards, time of possession and Sports Center highlights.

The Tigers never looked better.

Oh, LSU’s offense can play better than it did in Saturday’s 17-6 victory over Florida.

The hectic pace it set through the season’s first six games was probably going to be hard to maintain anyway. No matter how much fun it was to watch.

It will be welcomed back at any time, with proper fanfare, and surely sometime this season the Tigers might need to squeeze off a quick 40 points or so. It will be there, we know that.

Saturday wasn’t that day.

And the Tigers never looked better. It was their most impressive game this season.

Notice, I said the “Tigers” never looked better — not the offense, not the defense, not special teams or the Golden Girls or the tuba section — the team. T-E-A-M.

That’s what it’s supposed to be.

That’s what it was Saturday.

Discounting the farces of playing Kent State and UAB, in other games this season the Tigers looked like a great offense trying to baby-sit a young, wayward defense. You know, entertaining them with stunts, sort of like a teenager showing off for his little brother.

Saturday, everything was on equal terms. Little brother grew up right before their very eyes.

It was truly a team effort. Oh, the offense had been letting the defense stand in for those heartwarming sing-a-longs — the postgame ritual where Les Miles & Co. butcher the alma mater in a blatant show of team-bonding — but the defenders probably had to stand in the back.

Saturday they could all mingle as one big happy family, without avoiding eye contact.

“That’s kind of just how it’s supposed to look,” Miles said of the game. “Offense won, defense won, special teams won. If that recipe holds up, we’ll be awfully good.”

He did NOT say the days of 40-50 points and Air Mettenberger were over. Far from it.

But LSU needed some kind of balance on this team, and Saturday they got it with it a defense that suddenly looked like Tigers again.

As players from both sides commented afterwards, they saw a game that was played in the trenches and won at the line of scrimmage.

Call it old school, if you like.

Frankly, I didn’t think LSU was up for that kind of party — offensively or defensively.

“Did I think we could win like this,” Miles asked rhetorically when asked that very question. “You betcha.”

Of course, he’s always been optimistic. He’s said for weeks that the defensive problems were “easily correctable.”

Maybe he was finally right.

No need to go into details.

They tackled, they covered, they pressured, they batted down passes, they grew up.

For reference, just think about LSU defenses in recent years. That’s all you have to know. That’s what it was. That’s what was back Saturday.

They were, for the first time this season, playing in concert with the offense, each complementing the other.

It wasn’t an offense in a mad-cap dash to score again to cover up another defensive miscue. It was two factions both controlling the game in their own way, both having each other’s backs.

Maybe the offense would have ripped off another couple of touchdowns if needed. The feel of the game was that LSU could have scored whenever it wanted if absolutely necessary.

The Tigers probably would have scored at least one more if the ball hadn’t slipped out of quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s hands to end a promising drive.

It has nothing really to do with the overall scheme, but it’s still bugging me.

Miles said the fumble, a dropped ball, really, was because the ball was wet.

“It happens,” he said.

I asked Miles how in the world the ball got wet on a crispy dry day in Tiger Stadium, but by then he was scream-humming an old Simon & Garfunkel tune, something about how’d he rather be a hammer than a nail.

So the wet ball will have to be a mystery for another day.

It can wait. Apparently the mystery of the missing defense was solved.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

Posted By: Bryan On: 10/15/2013

Title: Mystery solved?

It could have possibly been that it was sweat. It happens

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