IN LIKE FLYNN: Matt Flynn named MOP

Admit it.

You were nervous about Matt Flynn making his first career start in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. 

 

It's ok. 

 

Everyone was. 

 

Most veteran quarterbacks rarely experience any level of success against Miami's defense. Everyone questioned him, including yours truly.  Everyone except Flynn, his coaches and teammates as it turns out.  "We had great confidence in Matt," said LSU head coach Les Miles. "We knew that he was going to come in having the ability to function on offense."

 

The Tiger's offense didn't just function with Flynn at the helm, they dominated, torching the nation's third-ranked defense for 468 total yards while scoring on eight consecutive possessions. Flynn finished 13-of-22 passing for 196 yards and two scores, carrying the LSU offense on his back and the Offensive MVP trophy out of the Georgia Dome with a 40-3 win against "The U" tucked in his pocket. "It's been a hard season. To end it this way feels great for all of us," said Flynn. 

 

Consider this: Flynn had appeared in eight contests this season, (mostly in mop-up duty for starter JaMarcus Russell) completing only 14 passes. He was thrust into the starting role against the team that has produced more first-round draft picks (43) than any other school since 1984; the program with this highest winning percentage (.830) since 1983; and a team that has won 22 of its last 27 games against ranked opponents. 

 

Coming off the Georgia debacle, the task of keeping up with Miami seemed daunting enough had the guy who had led LSU to a ten-win season been under center. 

 

Maybe that's why most of the Tiger fans that made the trek to Atlanta were not their usual rabid selves.  That might also explain why there were thousands of empty green seats in the upper level of the Georgia Dome as cannons boomed and flares shot into the rafters when the Tigers and Canes took the field.  Honestly, could you blame them?

 

Early in the game, it seemed as though many of their fears might come to fruition. LSU kicker Chris Jackson misfired on a 50-yard attempt on the opening drive which stalled after Flynn's third down pass attempt was batted at the line. Surely the 6-foot-6 Russell would have gotten that one over the defender. The Tiger defense bowed up and held Miami to a field goal from the 4-yard-line, but many spectators could not have honestly felt LSU would be able to keep pace with the speedy Miami offense all night. 

 

The Tigers went three and out on their second possession with another of Flynn's attempts being swatted by 6-foot-4 Baraka Atkins.

 

This was to be expected, right?

 

Flynn did not have the benefit of tuning up against the Arkansas State's of the world.  This was Miami. Apparently, Flynn didn't need rent-a-wins, all he needed was two drives. 

 

"I kind of got my feet under me after those first couple of drives," said Flynn. "I think all of us knew we could move the ball on them…and we started doing it."

 

The Tigers started and didn't stop.

 

With Joe Addai running through Katrina-sized holes paved by a veteran offensive line, Flynn's job became much easier. The junior even showed off his speed as he ran away from a pursuing Jon Beason for a 23-yard gain. 

 

Even though they settled for a field goal, the Tigers had proved they could move the ball against Miami as the first quarter came to a close with the game knotted at 3.  The next time the Tigers touched the ball, Flynn would need only four plays before finding Craig Davis sprinting down the middle of the field past Miami's Randy Phillips. Flynn hit Davis in stride for the 51-yard score in an end zone of elated Tiger fans.  That would be a familiar site.

 

"Our goal coming in was to dominate the line of scrimmage to make (Flynn's) job easier and we did that," said senior offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who made his 52nd consecutive start in his final game as a Tiger. 

 

Flynn acknowledged as much.

 

"I have to give all the credit to the offensive line and the guys around me," he said. "It made it easy on me when you can stay with second and short and third and short." 

 

Flynn's feet carried much of that load as well, as he rushed for 59 yards on five carries before 20 of those yards were negated by sacks.

 

JaMarcus Russell won't see his playing time negated because of injury.  Miles has already said as much. He also said the competition for the starting job has just reopened. 

 

"I think the competition will be renewed," Miles said, referring to his quarterbacks when spring practice starts.

 

Whoever winds up taking snaps under center for the Tigers when they take the field Sept. 2 against UL-Lafayette, he will be a proven winner. 

 

If you are an LSU fan, that is a good problem to have. 

 

Go ahead, admit it.

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