Last Modified: Sunday, September 08, 2013 7:51 PM
BATON ROUGE — If LSU has a workable offense and the Saints suddenly have a reliable defense, this could be the dawn of a whole new and exciting age in the state of Louisiana, one with limitless possibilities, high entertainment and championship potential.
For the Saints, it’s just one week, but the Falcons are a pretty fair offense, and the Saints defense won and saved that season-opening game for them.
Encouraging, but we’ll need more data.
LSU, on the other hand, is already two games into the new Cam Cameron Era and it’s hard to find much fault in the Tigers’ overall play.
But we’ll try here, strictly in the spirit of leaving no nit unpicked.
FACT: LSU is 2-0.
COUNTER-NIT: What did you expect them to be at this point?
NIT-PICKING: It was only UAB, a team that won three games last year and collapsed the previous week to lose to Troy.
COUNTER-NIT: So. When did that ever matter? Not saying UAB is SEC-worthy. But LSU has had a curious habit in recent years of letting any ol’ body hang around for long stretches of games that, though not really in doubt, couldn’t be trusted to a bench-clearing until it’s too late for much quality playing time from youngsters.
NIT-PICKING: LSU didn’t score in the fourth quarter. If they had, the Tigers could have had some real fun, like Texas A&M did hanging up 65 or Baylor topping out at 70.
COUNTER-NIT: Nobody slams on the brakes like Miles can after hitting the mid-40s with a game in hand. The Tigers hit 56 purely by accident with a touchdown nobody could have predicted, or even dreamed up. You don’t expect six more when you send an Odell Beckham back to protect against a sneak pooch punt from a field goal formation. Then you look up to find him soaring past you.
NIT-PICKING: Zach Mettenberger looks improved, but that very same UAB secondary allowed a Troy quarterback to complete 30 of 32 passes last week. Mettenberger threw one more incompletion in 13 less attempts. How can you nickname them the Air Tigers when they were basically throwing against humid air?
COUNTER-NIT: Hitting 16 of 19 passes is remarkable, even against dry air, for the awkward LSU passing games of recent ilk. But don’t look at the numbers. Look at Mettenberger in the pocket. That’s a different quarterback from last season. He’s confident, he’s decisive, most of all he’s totally comfortable back there and his footwork has made leaps and bounds. Besides, LSU was throwing downfield, challenging the secondary, whereas the Troy offense is one of those that spends the game with quick outs and dump-offs that are really more akin to the running game.
NIT-PICKING: Speaking of which, when are they going to get the tight ends involved? And with all his NFL experience, it seems even Cameron can’t force-feed a screen pass into Les Miles’ head.
COUNTER-NIT: So now you’re going to tell me LSU is attacking downfield with the passing game too much? My, how times have changed.
NIT-PICKING: Eventually somebody is going to cover Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
COUNTER-NIT: Legitimate point. Although in the end nine different Tigers caught, when things were serious Mettenberger was looking for his big two.
NIT-PICKING: UAB actually out-rushed LSU 160-152.
COUNTER-NIT: Now teams know what can happen when, as is customary against LSU, you load up the box against the Tigers’ traditional running game. You risk getting get strafed.
NIT-PICKING: They were throwing against air.
COUNTER-NIT: Sometimes. But TCU wasn’t air. And Mettenberger was on dead on target against UAB, amazingly accurate. Even wide open targets seemed to be hit perfectly (OK, except that one time when Jarvis Landry was all by his lonesome in the end zone no more than 5 yards away.
NIT-PICKING: Jeremy Hill shouldn’t be playing.
COUNTER-NIT: Well, he is, whether you like it or not. His suspension is over. He sat out last week and the first quarter Saturday and got only five carries against UAB. But it was enough to remind everybody that he’s still the best running back on a team that has plenty of them.
NIT-PICKING: UAB outscored LSU 17-14 in the second quarter.
COUNTER-NIT: That was indeed curious. It looked the defense thought the game was over at 28-0 (well, it was) and took a brief nap. They must have gotten a stern talking-to. UAB never thought about scoring in the second half.
NIT-PICKING: They gave up too many big plays.
COUNTER-NIT: For a team of UAB’s pedigree, perhaps. But I don’t think we’re looking at LSU’s finished product on defense.
Miles has even been hinting at more true freshman getting real playing time. The defensive line rotation looks two-deep as usual, but they’re still sorting out the plethora of available linebackers and some promising new faces are likely to get some serious looks in the secondary.
NIT-PICKING: They won’t learn much more this week against Kent State.
COUNTER-NIT: Nothing they can do about that.
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Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: Hunter On: 9/9/2013
Title: Where's the Defense? UAB shouldn't have gotten 17 points.
Where's LSU's defense? UAB was able to get 17 points. What's going to happen when LSU has to go up against the likes of Alabma or the Texas Aggies? Poor defense will get you defeated every time, no matter how good your offense is. LSU's past defenseseem to be much better than this year..