By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
For the first time in 2021, LSU's collective greatness overwhelmed an opponent in stunning fashion, with a litany of great plays or impressive team sequences throughout their 4 dominant quarters over Central Michigan.
Yes, it will anger the Tigers to surrender 21 points to Head Coach Jim McElwain's CMU, however our defense only gave up two touchdowns, both from silly / pathetic 2020-esque individual errors amid continuous offensive dominance; On the other side of the coin, our offensive staff will be disgusted with how we threw a pick six due to a simple, avoidable miscommunication between quarterback and receiver...
Still, those gripes can be saved for the angry people...we aren't one of them...we believe this team can achieve some very intriguing, ambitious goals if they continue to trust in their brigade of unstoppable freshmen and sophomores, and maintain our offensive onslaught while limiting defensive errors.
LSU now have the most sacks of any team in division I with 17, Max Johnson's 11 TD passes ranks second in the nation, B.J Ojulari's 4.5 sacks lead the country, and WR Kayshon Boutte has a 1st place 6 TDs through three games.
Not bad for a team who were embarrassed in Week 1 by UCLA.
I believe this team has such an inescapable level of talent that who knows what can be achieved....
This is the formation of a very special nucleus at LSU...the next wave who may finally be able to turn the page on 2019...forging a new identity & way forward:
DEREK STINGLEY JR (CB)
4 TACKLES (3 SOLO)
1 DEF. TD CREATED
0 COMPLETIONS ALLOWED
Despite his lack of a gaudy stat-line on the surface, his inclusion is a must:
During the first 2 quarters, the venomous, "kickin' your ass" hits from Derek Stingley Jr set the tone for the entire evening:
Not only did LSU's #7 Thorpe nominee blow up the Central Michigan backfield for 3 explosive hits which created negative plays, Stingley displayed his Heisman potential once again when he influenced the aggression on both sides of the ball.
Taking cues from the offense's attack-minded opening drive, Stingley opened the game with some wicked hits on the edge, wrapping up running backs or blasting receivers into the dirt, and earning a tackle for loss in his 3rd straight appearance.
Derek has resumed his explosive greatness & evolved, showing off his complete playmaking ability and influencer status when his 2nd vicious hit jarred the ball loose, bouncing fortuitously straight toward DE Andre Anthony.
Following Stingley's violent hit flipping the ball carrier up into the air, LSU's defensive end scooped up the ball, scampered down the sidelines and avoided a low hit toward his legs in order to score LSU's first defensive touchdown of 2021....all started by the "executioner declaration" from Derek Stingley Jr.
Still waiting for his 1st interception since December 2019, our #7 hasn't stopped creating turnovers:
Recovering 3 fumbles and forcing 2 since the SEC Championship Game, a FR vs Clemson (2019/2020 CFP title game) from Grant Delpit's hit on Trevor Lawrence, his brilliant FF strip & FR in the end zone off WR Seth Williams vs Auburn and a FR (thanks to Jay Ward's punch out on Slade Bolden) vs Alabama during last season.....but now Stingley Jr's playing at his maximum, without needing many targets his way to make an impact.
There were two passes attempted his way over the night, one being an errant throw from Jacob Sirmon due to the LSU #7's glove-like coverage; the other was Stingley's second consecutive appearance with a flag;
Regardless of the rare targets coming his way, or the funny flags, Derek has been immense for LSU and we needed him to guide us with his playmaking light...
COREY KINER (RB)
6.2 YARDS PER CARRY
Freshman Corey Kiner took over and made his opportunity count, posting 12 carries for 74 yards and his second consecutive game with a touchdown, creating a true controversy at the running back spot.
More than producing the goods, it's the way Kiner delivered out there that made eyebrows rise and voices raise for change in the LSU backfield:
Pummeling over defenders, stiff arming linebackers into the ground...literally and with shocking authority from a teenager, pile driving all comers in his path, speeding through and snaking around blockers, then, to top it all off, as if we hadn't already seen enough to call the freshman a heavy favorite to take over the #1 running back role, he sealed that notion when he spun a defender into the next millennium on his touchdown run, drawing straight from Clyde Edwards-Helaire's 2019 playbook.
And who would comment on the young man's Instagram post on Sunday?
Mr. Clyde Edwards-Helaire himself, posting his respect and admiration for the young Tiger running back's brilliant performances over consecutive weeks.
Looking to be the hungriest and most available back on LSU's roster, Corey Kiner may just be LSU's starting running back when the SEC schedule begins this next week in Starkville.
B.J OJULARI (DE)
3 TACKLES (2 SOLO)
3 QB HITS
In the wake of his 2.5 sack Saturday night showcase, second year DE B.J Ojulari now leads college football with a tyrannical 4.5 sacks, also adding 10 tackles, 12 pressures and 4.5 TFLs to his resume.
Pressuring QB Jacob Sirmon 4 times while issuing 3 QB hits, Ojulari was a relentless madman up front for the Tigers, also adding 3 solo stops in the running game as LSU held Central Michigan under 2 yards per carry all night.
The Georgia native just watched his older brother Azeez sack quarterbacks on national television this past Thursday, and B.J was no doubt influenced by the family's competitive nature:
Ojulari is far too athletic to be contained, and it's very intriguing that once DE Ali Gaye's injury forced Ojulari into an every down spot, he responded with sack after sack, now holding at least 1 Sack in all 3 games.
We wondered why LSU were sacrificing Ojulari for both Anthony & Gaye's presence vs UCLA, especially when the Tigers best defensive reps vs the Bruins came when Anthony was kicked inside to DT and both Ojulari and Gaye were on the flanks.
Now, with both Gaye & Anthony injured (Anthony's is looking to be season-threatening), Ojulari's value and importance as a leader and anchor up front is more paramount than ever before.
MAX JOHNSON (QB)
17 FIRST DOWN COMPLETIONS
LSU's starting quarterback went medieval on the Chippewas, making world class throws toward the sideline, expert dump offs into space over the middle, even silencing questions of his deep ball prowess, Max Johnson will have felt plenty confident after his riveting display:
The way Max threw the ball surely surprised his detractors, clipping off a quick 5/6 on the first drive of the game, capped off by Deion Smith's long, leaping touchdown grab.
Jake Peetz's offensive scheme finally matched the tempo and rhythm that fits Max Johnson's comfort and skills, utilizing his quarterback's quick-striking rocket arm to the tune of 17 first down completions, two on 3rd down.
Only missing 5 passes during the first half, Johnson completed 20 passes throughout LSU's first half assault, blasting Central Michigan with one huge gain after another, although this wasn't just dink and dunk from Max:
We witnessed some illustrious side to side passing from Max, hitting Boutte with a pass on 3rd down for 12 yards, an NFL-level pass that would've made Trent Dilfer grin; His long ball down the sideline to freshman wideout Brian Thomas Jr was especially accurate, putting air and touch on his passes.
Following 8 drops last week, Johnson demanded more from his receivers and Boutte and company responded in kind, Max finding Kayshon for his 6th TD of the season and 11th as a duo together (dating back to 10/31/20 vs Auburn).
The pair are electric, however the offense is expanding and Boutte is finally receiving some backup....and it's from the freshmen wideouts winning the battle over the veterans:
Johnson has been especially keen to hit Bech and now Deion Smith, appearing in his second game as a Tiger, put on an all world performance, all due to Max's trust in their abilities and accuracy with the football.
For Maximus, it was a career night....and we were all entertained.
Surrounding Johnson with this talent, this tempo of play-calling, variety of plays....due to his character and willingness to improve, the sky is the limit.
JACK BECH (WR)
5 FIRST DOWN CATCHES
As we predicted in our Central Michigan preview piece, Jack Bech caught his first ever LSU touchdown....and although we said he'd catch "his first 2 TDs as a Tiger", the one TD grab was worth the price of two:
Topping off his 5 catches for 81 yards by way of a skyscraping one handed / one armed TD grab, reaching high above a Chippewas DB with stunning athleticism, Lafayette's Jack Bech displayed the exact reasons why we wrote this piece containing this title.
All 5 grabs went for first downs, Bech becoming a high octane / high value safety valve on one play before suddenly turning into a monumental aerial threat 25 seconds later....it was impossible for the Chippewas to not only guard Jack, but also account for him.
Chipping through the line of scrimmage, throwing some nice time consuming blocks, Jack rolled out in the flat beautifully, and Max has begun to habitually find or target the freshman hybrid....producing devastating results.
Bech is only beginning his reign of terror on all of the SEC, proving to be as big of a mismatch and offensive weapon in year one as LSU Odyssey projected, and judging by his press conference words, "they're all gonna feel us", Jack has sky high belief....and we back him 100% here at LSU Odyssey, on and off the field.
Wearing eyeblack adorned with words of love and tribute to Popps (his grandfather), "G" and Kat (Walker Howard's mother), Jack is playing for a higher calling, a responsibility he not only accepts, but willingly invites.
What a dood.
DEION SMITH (WR)
27.0 PER CATCH
Ripping down one catch after another full of salacious potential, the #1 overall ranked player out of Mississippi's 2021 class put on a spellbinding performance that showcased his tremendous abilities across the board.
Hauling down the first 5 targets which came his way, all for 15+ yards, earning 5 first downs and 2 TDs, Deion Smith announced himself on the national stage as a breakout SEC freshman, scoring his first Tiger TDs and hitting his first career 100+ yard day with 135 yards.
Miraculously, Deion's first two catches were touchdowns, both long balls to the end zone, the first featuring a 50/50 pass hurled up for Smith to attack at its apex. Towering and overlooking the corner at the perfect moment, Deion stole the ball over his head, yanking the ball into his grasp through & above his outstretched arms.
There was an immediate gasp of "WTF?! Did he just catch that?!" throughout Tigers Stadium, #6 smiling and dipping his head down in shy acknowledgement:
"YES! THAT'S ME! YOU'RE FLYING DEION AIRWAYS!"
#1 WR Kayshon Boutte immediately met him facemask to facemask in respect, QB Max Johnson went bonkers, and Death Valley was rocking like crazy.
Only a drive later, Johnson found Deion for his second catch....yet another long touchdown as he burned his man streaking down the sideline. Max picked him out in stride and Deion did the rest, laying out his two hands (which we noted were "the best among the freshmen 5 group") to receive his 2nd score of the game.
After the 1st quarter, Deion already had 2 TDs and 68 yards from 2 catches....it was a wondrous start to his Tigers career.
More than just a breathtaking big play machine, Deion also moved the chains for the offense, grabbing nice passes over the middle for 15+ yards, breaking through tackles and making opponents pay the price.
But his final catch was also a divine piece of playmaking:
While heavily guarded and thrown towards the sideline some 25 yards down field, Deion reached back to impossibly collect a pass down by his hip, cradling the ball in and tapping a toe down before stepping out.........initially the play was called incomplete.
Suddenly, the catch was under review and the replays conclusively showed for all to see...in awe-inspiring slow motion: what an incredible receiver LSU have on their hands.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: DON CANNNNNON!!!