You were nervous about Matt Flynn
making his first career start in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
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
Coming off the Georgia debacle, the task of keeping up with
daunting enough had the guy who had led LSU to a ten-win season been under
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
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
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
“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
“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
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.