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We surprised our Subscribers with multiple big time interviews this week, Tristan Leigh & Denean Whitehead (Corey Kiner's mother) & exclusive behind the scenes info before South Carolina.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
On Saturday night at Death Valley, the Tigers righted some serious wrongs (not all as we'll discuss) but more than enough to enjoy a smooth stomping of Muschamp's South Carolina.
Tonight, Steve Ensminger demonstrated exactly why he's the best play-caller in college football and why the Joe Brady talk needs to end now....this man is a force, gaining successful and record-setting performances out of three consecutive quarterbacks: one a Heisman winner, another who set LSU records in three passing categories during his first three starts and now "The Pride of Ponchatoula" T.J Finley, the local freshman quarterback only appearing to be his age during one play (a nervous INT in which he also stopped a pick six on the return with a nice tackle).
The rest was a dream debut near to what we predicted (we said 313) he finished 17/21 throwing for 265 yards (while being removed for Max Johnson with 9 minutes left); T.J threw 2 TDs to Terrace Marshall, ran for a score and 24 more yards, but more than anything else....T.J was commanding.
LSU were 5/7 on 3rd down at one point under Finley (finishing 8/10 overall), T.J tossed 12 first down throws to seven different receivers, a trio of 3rd down conversions (2 of which were touchdowns, another a huge play by Jaray Jenkins) and rushed for a 3rd down goal-line touchdown.
Finley distributed the ball well, finding Boutte for an exquisite slip screen for 19, hitting Koy Moore for 3 catches and 34 yards (including a tough grab by Koy in traffic, taking a big hit for the first down), Jaray Jenkins catching a few huge grabs and Terrace Marshall taking over the game once again, both in the red zone and taking off for his 4th long-range touchdown of the season (5 red zone grabs).
At 9 touchdowns after 4 games, Marshall is now only 4 touchdowns away from tying Dwayne Bowe's 26 all-time LSU touchdowns and 5 from breaking the former Kansas City Chief's 15 year old record...his goal is 21 TDs this year...and I took him at his word....now every DB in the SEC has to chase the tracers of his shadow.
All along, the "Pride of Ponchatoula" at quarterback was anchored by a feisty offensive line, led by an incredible Ed Ingram.
Tonight James Cregg's line were physical, imposing beasts of South Carolina's burden and Will Muschamp couldn't figure it out all night, leading to a huge day on the ground for the Tigers, 276 yards total.
Ty Davis-Price, who turned 20 on Friday, had his biggest ever LSU performance, shifting, plowing, tussling and wearing down South Carolina's defense for a wondrous 135 yards on 22 carries, a 35 yard long burst, averaging 6.1 per carry and he finished it all off with a touchdown, his second consecutive game with a score.
John Emery added his own breathtaking plays, flying over the trenches from 5 yards out, reaching out over the goal-line and scoring his own touchdown, producing some world class abilities after the tackle (88 yards from 18 carries, 1 TD). Emery and TDP escaped every tackle in sight, proving elusive at every turn as Will Muschamp's defense couldn't handle Kevin Faulk's backs behind James Cregg's line, both LSU coaches proving why they both wear Super Bowl rings.
Everyone seemed to get in on the rushing act, even Max Johnson plowed ahead for a 3rd down later on and trucked a defender out of his way, the return of powerhouse brickhouse left guard Ed Ingram boosting the rushing game to an elevated level.
Ed Ingram is a necessity for LSU success, such is his dominant will and iron clad protection. Next to left tackle Cam Wire, this line was imperious tonight.
Special teams also swung the game in LSU's favor, right when the Tigers needed a push:
After South Carolina started the second half strong with a touchdown, cutting the score to 31-17, sophomore receiver Trey Palmer returned a kickoff which will live long in the memory of Tiger fans:
The ball was booted straight to Trey and I immediately had a great feeling...the ball was coming to Trey on a line and he had a perfect compliment of blockers ahead. However....he forgot the ball.
Palmer dropped the ball and while we knew he'd recover possession, we felt the opportunity was lost. #33 scooped the ball and picked his head up, making one man miss as he slalomed forth until bursting through a gap, just as Nick Storz (and the South Carolina kicker) moved out of his way, Trey made three more miss before turning on the jets in open space, eating up more grass than Les Miles on his way towards the end zone....pulling off an improbable, incendiary and now iconic play in LSU history.
Trey now has 2 return touchdowns in his career at LSU and he doesn't look anywhere close to finished yet: If the electric speedster can become a trusted receiver, his ceiling is boundless.
On defense, LSU fans watched an overall improvement, even though there's still some ominous worrying signs that smacked us all right in the face straight outta the gates.
On their first drive, South Carolina ran the ball down LSU's throat in 3 plays, 76 yards and a score to even it up early, burning LSU's safeties and linebackers through the gaps yet again.
But here's where Pelini coached em up.
After the first awful drive, a furious Bo went over to his linebackers and went back to the drawing board, intent on getting this right. Finally at some point, Bo threw in the speedier Micha Baskerville over Damone Clark and #23 made some big open field stops, showing gap discipline.
Pelini raved about Micha all off-season and it appears his inclinations were correct.
We still watched some uncharacteristic errors from Stevens and more blown assignments and coverages by our safeties and linebackers, but the playmaking of our freshmen stole the show.
Eli "Pick Six" Ricks snuck on the inside of a route and stole a pass for his 3rd interception of the season...but he wasn't finished.
Just as we'd hoped, imagined and believed he would and could, Ricks is fulfilling his destiny at LSU and images of glory swirled as he took the ball to the house, pointing back in iconic "see ya" peace sign celebration.
Eli is a true champion, a history-taking, play-making stud who will now use this basis of DBU savagery to geaux for the ultimate...regardless of his age (3 interceptions and his first collegiate touchdown already on the campaign, half of Stingley's freshman tally...needing only 4 games).
Off the front, B.J Ojulari took over the game with 3 sacks (we predicted 2), an outrageous performance from the Nigerian Prince, eating South Carolina's line like wonder bread and showing just why he's Pro Football Focus's highest rated freshman in the country.
4 solo tackles, a hat trick of sacks, 3 TFL, 1 QB hurry joins his overall haul of 1 forced fumble, 4 total sacks and 9 solo tackles....Ojulari has backed up our preseason predictions of 9.5 sacks....he's nearly halfway there already...
LSU's defense definitely stiffened as a collective, holding South Carolina to 3/10 on 3rd down, forcing 4 field goals in the red zone (3 of which were missed and followed big plays) although Pelini's young men still surrendered 403 total yards, another 100 yard rusher and a 100 yard receiver (who only needed 2 catches to eclipse the century mark).
Many signs of improvement across the board, but still so much to fix...yet one would be harsh to accuse Pelini of not "giving it a proper geaux".
This was a feel good win for LSU tonight topping our 45-25 prediction with a 52-24 victory, a very good script after a week of hellish news, injuries, a suspended starter and a potential quarterback controversy, Coach Ed Orgeron steered his team to victory tonight, proving what an innovative, aggressive, ballsy leader he is.
Headlined by T.J Finley, Ty Davis-Price, Terrace Marshall, Myles continuing to heal, a coaching staff regaining its confidence and stars being born all over the field, Tiger fans can feel great about this one.....and a lot better about Auburn.
Due to the Waddle news, SEC-wide unrest (UGA Ray brawling with Dan Mullen), 2020's madness and LSU's current improvements, this thing ain't over yet.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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