But LSU’s 24-7 win over Vanderbilt
on Saturday resembled another typical performance by these Tigers as of late.
Saturday’s 17-point victory cannot be categorized as another ugly win because
the Tigers played very well in some spots.
Just to mention the bright spots in
The Tigers ground game, which was anemic last week against
up 273 yards rushing on 44 trips.
The special teams produced its first touchdown of the
season when Skyler Green brought back a punt 65 yards for a third quarter
The defense produced five sacks and 11 tackles for losses
led by Claude Wroten’s two sacks and three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Wideout Craig Davis made one of the more impressive catches
these eyes have seen in Tiger Stadium in quite some and ESPN thought so as well
third quarter TD grab as one of the top plays of the week.
With highlights like those, why the
glum, hangover type feeling after a double-digit victory?
Well first of all, this could
possibly be the worst home schedule any LSU football team has played in the
109-year history of the program. It is bad enough the home slate includes the
likes of Troy, Arkansas State and Mississippi State, but to sandwich games
against the Trojans and Vanderbilt with a pair of open dates in the thick of the
college football season, a season in which LSU is the defending national
champions quickly becomes almost an afterthought.
While referring to the season as an
afterthought may be a bit brash and insulting to the players and coaches who
dedicate so much time to the program, but for those folks who did bother to show
up on campus Saturday, no one will argue with the fact the atmosphere, which is
regarded as the bets in college football, is absolutely dead this season.
Tailgaters are out in record-low
numbers this season. The atmosphere around campus is glaringly lacking and by
the look of the empty seats in the stadium, you could almost mistake the crowd
as one from the Curley Hallman era – not from the defending national champions.
Saturday’s announced crowd of 90,825 brought giggles in the press box as a rough
estimate brought guesses of no more than 85,000 in attendance.
Empty seats dotted the grandstands
in every area of the stadium, not to mention three giant-sized gaping holes in
the top of the north end zone student section.
While the play of the team might
have something to do with the lack of enthusiasm, it is understandable by the
level of competition which the Tigers are facing in this midseason slot. Toss in
the fact LSU was out of the SEC title picture after a loss to Auburn, not to mention a 45-16 thrashing at
Georgia, the year-after
effect is definitely rearing its ugly head in Baton Rouge.
As we mentioned above, there were
some good things that came from Saturday’s game. But for every optimistic aspect
there can be a negative slant as well. Yes, LSU did rush for 273 yards, but
Tiger quarterbacks attempted just 11 passes, completing six, for 102
Oh yes, the defense sacked
Vanderbilt quarterbacks five times (knocking starter Jay Cutler from the game in
the third quarter) and 11 times stopped a Commodore for a loss of yardage, but
in the meantime, the Tiger defense surrendered 289 yards of total offense to
Toss in the fact players, coaches
and fans looked as senior center Ben Wilkerson’s career at LSU came to an abrupt
end on the last play of the game. The 6-4, 300-pound Hemphill, Texas native got rolled up on the last play of
the game and was tended to in the minutes following. He left the field on his
own, but a full-leg splint was applied as Wilkerson grimaced in pain as he
limped to the locker room. It was reported Sunday he will undergo surgery to
repair a ruptured patella tendon. Wilkerson, who started 41 games in his LSU
career, has played his last down in the purple and gold.
And if losing Wilkerson wasn’t bad
enough, freshman speedster Xavier Carter will miss 4-6 weeks (possibly the rest
of the season) with a broken clavicle (collar bone). Carter was hit hard on a
first half kick return and left the field not to return.
As the Tigers head into their
second and final open date of the season, fans can look forward to two much
better home games (against Alabama and Ole Miss) than the past three.
However, with these key injuries, LSU must play better than they have in the
past two games if they hope to win out and reach the program’s fourth straight
New Year’s Day bowl game.
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag Magazine. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org