Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Auburn Realist: The LSU Review

Sometimes it's nice to be wrong. I know a lot of people were hoping I would be wrong about this game, at least the score anyway.

Alas, it wasn't to be. While I really would love to have seen Auburn win this game and I would happily accept being wrong, it just wasn't in the cards. The upside is, I was essentially correct on most every point from my LSU Preview Predictions. Good for at least one person...eh? Maybe. Unless you read about what I thought this loss would do for the team....

First off, we all saw the Auburn vs LSU usual fanfare about the fire game and the earthquake game. So, 1:1 to start off the night.  Considering some of my other predictions,like the Mississippi Game Review,  I will take being right whenever I can get it!


Offense
We read all week about taking the chains off of the offense and letting Marshall do his thing. I voiced my concern that I didn't expect there to be any functional difference to the offense this week as opposed to previous weeks aside from maybe letting him scramble and having a few more designed runs. I expected to see at least 2 deep balls get thrown and at least 1 of them to get caught, though I didn't really expect it to be for a TD. Correct on both accounts. Marshall threw the deep ball early but couldn't seem to connect in the first half. At times it was downright painful to see him throw the ball. Down by 21 coming out of the locker room, he continued to throw it deep and connected on several including a 52 yarder to Coates who is rapidly becoming his favorite deep receiver. But, like I said in the preview, LSU isn't a team that gets beat by a few long throws like most teams. The rain certainly hurt Marshall, who couldn't make the ball do anything right as long as the rain was coming down. At times the ball came out of his hands and nobody knew where it would go. The passes ranged from wildly inaccurate to dead-on perfect at times, specifically, the 52 yards to Coates. Marshall made a post game comment about his small hands. Having throwing a lot of football in my life, I can tell you that having small hands and throwing in the rain do not mix. His rushing wasn't earth-shattering, and while it certainly helped, it was game breaking. He was kept out of the endzone, which really is all that matters for the LSU defense. His long run of the night was 15 yards and he averaged only 3.3 yards. In all, Marshall had a pedestrian day with 0 TDs and 2 picks while throwing for 224 yards.His running, as stated, was ok though he added a fumble very early that really set the tone for the evening.

As I expected, Mason had a terrific game. The weakness of this LSU team is against the run, believe it or not. Mason averaged over 5 yards per carry with a long of 17. 132 total rushing yards and 2 TDs for the Junior in what may be his best single game so far. The middle of the LSU defense is weak against a dynamic RB.

As per the prediction, CAP and Grant were essentially non-factors although CAP did have a TD, which I really shouldn't downplay, I guess.

I wasn't on par with Marcus Davis who only had 2 catches.

Instead, Coates stepped up with 139 yards of receiving and the 52 yard bomb. That would have been nice to have gone to the house, though. I won't deny that I am pleased with his development. But, it still seems like if it isn't drops, it's badly thrown balls. Then again, I said it in the prediction...statistics say that they can't all be bad. He made good on what he could this week.

Defense
I have talked to at least 20 people about this game. I listened to what they said before I gave any synopsis. What did 100% of them say? "That guy at middle linebacker KILLED you." I was at a party Saturday night with fans from across the nation. What's absolutely PATHETIC to me is that they all know who Jake Holland is. And not because he is a stellar player, either. The guy must practice FANTASTIC during the week because he doesn't play worth anything during the game. The fullback, Copeland, absolutely abused him in the first quarter on two different plays. The 49 yarder was painful to watch because Holland stepped right in front of the block and never even extended an arm to make a play. Like we said in previous weeks...you have to get off the blocks. Don't believe me? Check out the vid.
Hill's 49 yarder

Or the 11 yarder after the fumbled punt? Yep. Copeland OWNED him in the hole. I mean, Holland was taken 5 yards out of the box.
Hill's 11 yarder

Did he do anything good? Yeah. He made a sack....and he struggled to get Mettenburger down on it.

The rest of the game on defense? Surprisingly pretty good. I mean, after the first quarter, Hill around had 2 TDs and a ton of yardage. While he did have a career night, a 4th down fumble and a fumbled punt really helped him out. Auburn did manage to nab an INT at the hands of Whitehead. They recorded a couple of sacks, and a fumble. They held a smokin' hot Mettenburger to a season low 229 yards in the air and only 1 passing TD when he had been on fire against other reams.

The Line
I predicted that each team would hit a field goal and the score would be 24-17. Neither team attempted a FG and LSU had the benefit of two early turnovers converted to TDs that turned the tide early. It's been a long time since Auburn has committed such a grievous mistake as dropping a punt on the goal line, and as good as I did with this game, I didn't see that happening. Nor did I see putting the ball on the dirt on a 4th and 1. Honestly though, I was much more upset at running a read-option on 4th down than the fumble. I still believe that was the  absolute wrong call to make. Simplicity and quickness are what I would have called myself. To be honest, I would have punted it and wouldn't have thought twice about it.

In fact, what's up with 5 4th down attempts, anyway? Hmm.....

Auburn killed themselves with their turnovers, but I had already set myself up with a Silver Lining.  I said that this would be a learning experience for this team and that a loss would be the best thing to help the team grow. I hold firm in that. The first quarter aside, this team went nose-to-nose in almost every stat category. They converted 3rd downs, though not enough. They held on to the ball. They played pretty good defense. Most importantly, this team didn't give up. The LSU fans were streaming out at half. I admit that I was already outside throwing Frisbee after the 1st quarter before my wife roped me back in for the 3rd quarter. Last years team would have been on the bus at halftime. This team came out and scored 21 points. And was inches from converting an onside kick that might have meant a world's amount of difference. I think Marshall sees that he has a team that won't quit on him. He sees playmakers that are deadly when he is patient with them. Most importantly, he sees that he alone can self-destruct a game when he tries to make things happen himself. I believe he will be nearly lights out for the rest of the season.

Defensively, this unit gets better and better...except that they have a gaping hole in the middle. If they can keep people from running right at the middle, they can be a force in every game. But, opposing coaches aren't in the bushiness of letting weaknesses go untested, are they?

While off on the score, I feel like I was nearly spot on with everything else. A Solid A for this weeks grade.