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Friday, October 31, 2014
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Hobbs Column: Fun for all but defensive coordinators

Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 10:12 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

ATHENS, Ga. — OK. So this is the new world order in the Southeastern Conference, the league that has steadfastly tried to act like defense still matters and there’s something to be said for the traditional values of field position and working the clock.

I think the final score was 44-41, Georgia’s way, but I better double-check. Might have blinked and missed a few scores. It was hard to keep up sometimes.

If anything, it looked like way more than the combined 943 yards total offense that can be accounted for in the final stats.

It wasn’t like nobody saw this track meet coming. The possibility had been suggested well in advance, which is usually enough warning for SEC defensive coordinators to get their dander up and stuff some hot-shot offense in the nearest trash can.

But … wow.

Frankly, it feels like I just watched a 22-man ping-pong match, the lightning-quick kind that the Chinese Nationals and Forrest Gump play.

Ping-ping-ping-pong.

Maybe this is simply what happens when two defenses lose the bulk of their defenses to the NFL, yet bring back senior quarterbacks auditioning for the pro ranks.

Was that really football or were we watching a video game?

If the game had lasted another two minutes, LSU might well have won — but both teams could very well have been excommunicated to the Big 12 to join their silliness.

And you know what the really scary part was?

There was that nutty outbreak between Alabama and Texas A&M a few weeks ago, but that was the Aggies’ up-tempo shenanigans laced with that spread-option novelty act with a Johnny Hooding at quarterback.

But this, basically, was mirror-image teams playing straight, by-the-book pro-style offenses — with two stationary quarterbacks — and they barely took a deep breath between touchdowns.

Can anybody around this joint play defense?

Imagine if they’d gotten in a bigger hurry about it.

LSU had never in its long history scored 41 points in a regulation (non-overtime) game and managed to lose.

It is hard to do.

But — just a guess here — LSU may not be done with this type of game.

So if you’re looking for hope, the last time LSU gave up more yards than the 494 Georgia racked up — 533, against West Virginia in 2011 — the Tigers won and, in fact, won quite easily.

So it can be done.

But it sure leaves a lot to chance. It’s certainly not the LSU way (nor probably Georgia’s, either, for that matter).

But it was off to the races as two defensive coordinators looked on in horror, and also a bit powerless.

LSU head coach Les Miles, who seemed a bit stunned by what he’d just seen, was asked how his respected defensive coordinator, John Chavis, was holding up.

“He’s just sick,” Miles said.

It was different all right, and LSU fans might have to get used to it.

You may have to watch LSU football in a whole different light.

“We have some young guys that we want to put on the field that are very talented …” Miles said, his tone seemingly pleading for patience.

It’s starting to look like this Tiger defense might be suffering from more than just the normal growing pains. This is the fifth game of the year.

Maybe the canary in the coal mine should have been the 213 yards rushing that Auburn had last week, most of it in the second half.

But LSU still isn’t tackling very, well (when at all), occasionally gets pushed around physically like you never thought possible, and at times the young secondary looked like Shriners weaving around on itty-bitty motorbikes. As for pressure on the quarterback, nada. Georgia’s Aaron Murray should have left a nice for the Tigers’ defense for the gentle care they took of him all afternoon. It was everything but turn-down service.

Saturday wasn’t a few lapses. It was a defense that, really, was just holding on for dear life all afternoon, hoping for the best.

At least LSU picked the right year to upgrade its offense. Can you imagine the LSU offenses of the last few years trying to keep up with the fireworks that kept exploding Saturday?

Zach Mettenberger faced the most hostile environment he’s going to see in this lifetime and responded by playing the game of his life.

His day was complicated by far more pressure than Murray got from LSU, yet he stood in there.

His game was more impressive than the numbers — and 23 of 37 for 372 yards and three touchdowns and is world-class.

The degree of difficulty of some of the situations was off the charts, yet he kept overcoming third-and-forever and kept pace as best he could with Georgia.

Given the precision some of those throws required, it might have been the best quarterbacking display LSU has seen since Matt Flynn left after the 2007 national championship.

And it wasn’t enough. Oh, it was high entertainment for sure. They did put on a show.

In fact, Mettenberger was asked if, as a student of offense, he’d have enjoyed watching this game from a couch in his apartment.

“Considering I’m an LSU fan,” Mettenberger said. “Probably not.”

Well, there is that downside. You take your chances.

• • •

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

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