LSU WINS "SHOE-OFF" VS FLORIDA



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By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips

          In a season of turbulent upheaval at every conceivable turn for Orgeron's Tigers, Saturday night's classic 37-34 victory (behind Cade York's impossibly brilliant 57 yard field goal in the Swampian fog) was beyond a tonic for a program in dire need of good news...it was a release.

          Emotions ran wild throughout the unbelievable game, injuries and opt-outs tested the depth of Orgeron's recruiting to the absolute breaking point, but the inner turmoil that rocked the Tigers took a backseat....even as Joey Galloway couldn't stop laughing on ESPN when asked about a score prediction, LSU's defense just grew angrier.

          In this pissed off fashion, the greatest test of Orgeron's tenure was passed with flying colors before the world, many who'd ripped on every decision or lifestyle choice the man had made in the last 12 months now left silent in their decrepitude...nothing was off the table when it came time for the Tiger Droppings panicfest to set in last week, everything from Brady vs Orgeron war stories to ridiculous rumors...


         In the face of this crap, Orgeron mobilized the Tigers he had left, under 50 available scholarship players with their backs against the wall completely, the entire college football world rooting for their imminent downfall like a bunch of Romans watching the gladiators face off against a pack of lions....instead, these players fought for the purple and gold in entertaining, spellbinding, spine-tingling, turnover-creating bliss.

          This was the game the Gators were licking their chops for all week, though thanks to some alchemy from Orgeron and the struggling Bo Pelini's throwback to 2007, what will forever be known as "The Shoe Game" became Dan Mullen's biggest embarrassment.

          LSU frustrated Florida to no end, sending Trask into a three turnover delirium and a litany of defensive players to freak out on the field  (culminating in a shoe throw which set up the York 57 yard attempt); these Gators were left gassed and bloodied by LSU's maligned offensive line, Ingram, Wire, senior Deculus, Hines and Cam Wire playing with renewed aggression and purpose. 

          There were highlights all over the field from freshmen wunderkinds such as Eli Ricks picking off Kyle Trask for his 4th INT (our exact preseason prediction) and 2nd returned for a score during 2020;

B.J Ojulari recovered 2 fumbles, quarterback Mad Max Johnson debuted as a starter and took down the Gators with mistake-free football, finishing with 239 yards passing, 52 rushing (a trio of 3rd down runs, 2 on fourth down) and tossing 3 touchdown passes to three different receivers...


         One of those WRs was freshman Kayshon Boutte, who once again demonstrated the makings of a dynamic receiving enterprise and playmaking machine, producing 21.6 yards per catch from 5 receptions for 108 and his 2nd TD of 2020 (we predicted a 167 yard game from Boutte); 

        CB Dwight "Nudie" McGlothern (who I've been wanting to see all season instead of Cordale Flott) was thrown into the fire and made 2 red zone pass breakups, one leading to an epic 1st half goal-line stand and the other a miraculous ricochet off his helmet (only a split second before his left foot stepped out of bounds), the ball plummeting into the grasp of sophomore Jay Ward for a huge red zone interception on Heisman candidate Kyle Trask...

          We witnessed some savage play from LSU's defensive line, ferocious and cannibalistic in how they blew up the edges of the Gators' offensive line, just as we'd predicted earlier last week and during our pregame show. Senior Andre Anthony continued his blistering campaign, registering 5 pressures and 3 QB Hits, every single backfield penetration proving critical; Senior Neil Farrell collapsed the Gators' line consistently, specifically allowing Stevens to shut down the 4th and goal call during the 1st quarter.


          Freshmen DT Jaquelin Roy played much of the game like a monster, delivering his first 2 LSU sacks and impressing Korey Foreman no doubt....imagine Foreman, Maason, Roy and Ojulari????

          LSU's heralded linebacker Jabril Cox went above and beyond for the purple and gold tonight, delivering 3 pressures (two on 3rd down, one forcing a 2nd half field goal, the other creating a punt) hauling 6 tackles, 5 being solo ventures, 1 Forced fumble, 2 PDs (headlined by a brilliant deflection on a long ball from Trask, the North Dakota State transfer showing his unmistakable coverage abilities), and 1 tackle for loss...

          ....an NFL level showing from Jabril.

          When Orgeron said "Cox will guard Pitts cause he's the best we have" so many LSU fans mocked Coach O. However, his words were proven true as Cox tracked the ball with the ravenous hunting elegance of a gazelle. 

There was atonement from Damone Clark, a young man I root for (led team with 9 tackles); we saw Jacoby Stevens being sent on blitz after blitz, affecting the line of scrimmage at will.


          LSU's defense allowed an atrocious 609 total yards of offense and were pinned deep constantly....but Pelini's men rose above every obstacle, keeping Mullen's squad to 5/13 on 3rd down (0/1 on 4th and goal) as well as batting down 8 passes (3 during the all important goal-line stand drive from the 1st quarter) and hitting Kyle Trask 8 times as well, the Florida record-breaker suffering his worst game of the season, regardless of the yards he produced.

        The Tigers scored from these 3 turnovers, highlighted by Eli Ricks pulling off an otherworldly read and edging in front of a Florida receiver for a game-changing pick six, turning around at the last second to let Trask know if Stingley wasn't there to pick him off, he would be.


         Just as Eli accomplished with his acrobatic diving INT vs Miss State, Ricks flipped the game towards LSU's favor with a divine intervention, one which may be the coolest play of the year.

        While Pelini's defense stemmed waves of injuries and Florida drives full of big plays, this embattled, historically inconsistent unit won the football game by possessing a spirited mentality for 60 full minutes...they never stopped taking it to the Gators, laying the wood constantly on Mullen's scared, bloated, overrated unit.

         Now that Pelini has 100% buy-in from his charges, this defense are flying around like besieged locals of Helm's Deep....could this be a 2021 forecast?

         Elsewhere, LSU's offensive line controlled the Gators and delivered the team's best rushing game since South Carolina by way of 179 rushing yards (55 from a steaming Ty Davis-Price (averaging 6.9 per carry before he went down), 64 bruising (though effective) yards from Chris Curry battling in front of his home state crowd on an emotional night, and finally 52 yards from Johnson burying Florida, Deculus, Ingram and co clearly dictating the tempo.


          This was what LSU fans wanted to witness: domination in the trenches...and what better night to play your best line game than at #6 Florida in the fog with no one giving you a chance in Don Henley hell and in front of Orgeron's biggest prospects, #1 OL Tristan Leigh and #1 DE Korey Foreman....        

          More than any stat could detail....

          Far above any play concerning the chucking of Kole Taylor's size 111 cleat on 4th and 8 with 1:51 remaining...


         Last night was about fight...

         The present may still have its ugly issues for Orgeron to navigate, although anyone doubting the ambitious future Orgeron has built over the past three recruiting cycles, I present to you the best cornerback in college football Eli Ricks, rising wizard Mad Max Johnson...a kid just sitting on the bench waiting to beat Florida (who else outside of Alabama or Clemson has that kind of roster?)...

         ....the moment Chase, Marshall and Gilbert left the team, Kayshon Boutte flew to new degrees of sharpness each time...B.J Ojulari didn't grab a sack and still he recovered two fumbles and maniacally harassed Trask all night, Jaray Jenkins caught his 2nd touchdown of the season...in only his 2nd reception (and 3rd involvement) of the season, RB Kevontre Bradford came off the bench to catch a lead-strangling TD once TDP and Emery went down...sophomore cornerback Jay Ward (fast becoming a superstar) amassed 8 tackles and created a turnover for the second consecutive game:

In what was another jaw-dropping play of wild insanity and one which will define the Shoe Game's legacy, Ward picked off a batted pass, the ricochet bouncing from a WR on to McGlothern's helmet before Ward pulled off the unthinkable, intercepting the ball using a surreal athletic balance of his knees...



....Louisianimal DT Jaquelin Roy ruptured the Gators center and bled Trask for his first career collegiate sacks, LSU's second freshman D-lineman to grab multiple sacks during 2020...

          Last night was about survival...

          While the world looked on to see another funereal banshee beat for Orgeron's Tigers, a program losing its grasp on their values, culture and ability to believe, all three fundamental pieces of our principles were reinstated on a thunderstruck Saturday night against an eternal enemy in an atmosphere straight out of a Stephen King novel, LSU gave Florida fans a nightmare they can't wake up from....for a second straight year.


         We ruined Florida's season...and during a year where little has felt good for LSU fans, drink this one down and kick back for a day or two...does it solve every problem at LSU?

          No....but it's a bridge...now Pelini and his defense look in sync and together on the sideline....now Orgeron and Pelini are communicating more during the game...the offensive line gave everything for Max Johnson, a kid who became a man last night....more than that, he may have just stolen the starting job for 2021...and Cade York??? Mark Rogers called McPhereson one of the best kickers in college football last night, however York IS the best and made a truly unbelievable kick...

The best part....I knew he'd bury it.

Seeds are sown...now they've grown...

        It's all just a bridge....but LSU is crossing through the fog together for the first time since July, forging forward through the criticism, madness and uncertainty with both feet now....

BLACK LIVES MATTER

by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips

COPYRIGHT 2020 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC

SHOUTOUTS: Brandon who called the score and LSU upset, Harold as well. FOR THE BELIEVERS IN COACH O. Tristan & Aidan, what up!

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© 2020 by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN, Uninterrupted Writings Inc.