As the teams lined up for the
opening kickoff, the south Baton Rouge sky filled with dark blue clouds that
were moving quickly toward the north. By the time ULM punter Joel Stelley put a
foot into his first kick following the Indians initial three-and-out, drops
started to fall.
The kick was shanked and fielded by
Ronnie Prude around midfield. As LSU’s offense took the field, the rain began to
fall harder. Three plays later, freshman kicker Ryan Gaudet lined up for a short
field goal. As he approached the ball, the rain was falling so hard that the
east side of the stadium was not visible from the press box on the west side of
It looked as if play would resume
through one of the hardest rainstorms these eyes have ever seen, but with the
first bolt of lightning, both teams were instructed to retreat into their
respective lock rooms. They would return some 45 minutes later.
The rout was on – sort
The Tigers returned to the field
and appeared awfully sluggish as the first quarter ended in a scoreless tie. It
wasn’t until the 7:00 mark in the second quarter did LSU get on the board when
Matt Mauck connected with Devery Henderson on a 8-yard touchdown pass, but from
then it began raining (pardon the pun) touchdowns as the Tigers hit paydirt
twice again before the half to secure a 21-0 lead at the
The second half was little more
than a glorified scrimmage as head coach Nick Saban shuttled players in and out
of the game with the frequency of a New York City subway train.
Coming out of the first game, this
is what we know:
- Matt Mauck is not as bad as his
numbers indicate. He did complete just 13-of-28 passes, but take into account
Mauck did have six dropped passes. Also, Marcus Randall was impressive in
reserve action. Let’s just say our prediction of him getting bumped to third
string has been put on ice for a while.
- Joseph Addai is a capable running
back as he ran with authority, but we are taking into consideration he was
playing against the 117th ranked team in America. Shyrone Carey will
be an electrifying return specialist, Justin Vincent is adequate right now and
Alley Broussard will be a star in a purple and gold uniform.
- The receiving corps is as
impressive as we thought they would be, however, the group of studs and
superstars to be underachieved on this night. Dropped balls were too plentiful
to call it a good night for the corps, but they will be better next time.
Michael Clayton strutted his stuff as usual – Dwayne Bowe’s one catch sold this
writer he is a big-time player.
- Saban has been looking for a pass
rush, and thanks to a few true freshmen, he might have found it. Kirston Pittman
was in ULM quarterback Stephen Jyles’ face early and often. And isn’t it ironic
that one of only two sacks came from true freshman LaRon Landry, the safety that
has been the object of Saban’s praise throughout fall camp. Also, true freshman
Jesse Daniels (also a sparkle in Saban’s eye) was second on the team with four
solo tackles. Oh yeah, and about Pittman, remember he has been putting pressure
on Marquise Hill at defensive end. Hill’s jersey was as white as snow after
Saturday’s muddy affair, I think you get the picture.
- The Eric Alexander/Adrian Mayes
project looks to be heading in the right direction. The converted safety turned
linebacker duo accounted for six tackles and a sack on Saturday.
- Kudos to Jack Hunt. After taking
so much abuse after being dragged up and down the field at the Cotton Bowl last
year by Texas’ Roy Williams, Hunt got some redemption picking off a Jyles and
returning it 31 yards for his first collegiate touchdown.
Finally, the kickers. Saban may say
Gaudet is more accurate on short kicks and true freshman Chris Jackson will be
used for long field goals and kickoffs, but from what Jackson showed Saturday,
he has the leg and poise to kick at this level. All he needs is game experience
to solidify his job as the Tigers next great kicker.
On a personal note, I would
like to send out a great big thank you the LSU Alumni Association Birmingham
Chapter for inviting me to attend their preseason gathering on August 23. The
folks in Birmingham were very gracious in asking me to play in their chapter
golf tournament at Highland Park Golf Course. I also was asked to speak about
LSU football at a dinner held later that evening. Special thanks go out to
Richard Coston and Ken Lowe for asking me to attend as well as my host, Kenny
Haynes. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Greg Evans and Gary Ascani,
who were in my golfing group. I had a great time guys. Thanks, Matt.