by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
TY DAVIS-PRICE (RB / SOPHOMORE)
104 RUSHING YARDS
-349 RUSHING YARDS
(Two 100 Yard Games)
4.5 YARDS PER RUSH
For those still whining about John Emery Jr deserving the football?
John started vs Arkansas, was lucky to still be awarded possession after he spilled one of LSU's 5 fumbles on the day (only one lost) and ran for 33 yards from 12 rushes....he's been handed every opportunity and still runs with a tepid fear.
Receiving double the amount of John's carries and tripling his yards, Ty Davis-Price bruised and bullied his way through defenders, forcing the majority of Arkansas' 102 tackles as he wore Barry Odom into a pillar of salt.
For TDP's supporters, you'd be disgusted by his early usage:
His first carry burned through the Razorbacks for 7 yards, capped off by a sick spin move, setting the Tigers up nicely at 3rd and 3. The next play, Passing Game Coordinator Scott Linehan called a pass for Jaray Jenkins instead of trusting LSU's speedy bruiser and the drive was halted.
On another drive, TDP was finally given the full dose, taking 5 straight rushes for 39 yards, 3 first downs and headlined by a nasty cutback burst for 22 yards, LSU's OTs' Cam Wire and Austin Deculus deceiving / leading the way.
After his last carry grabbed 6 yards, John Emery Jr came back in the game.
Once again, TDP's complete running handed LSU's offense a highly favorable down and distance. On 2nd and 4, Finley telegraphed a bad screen pass to Emery on a route the sophomore couldn't sell and was smashed for a 5 yard loss...ripping the rug out from under such a promising drive.
Somehow some way, Finley kept the drive going by converting a magical 4th and short pass to Arik Gilbert, but Ty's unselfishness would take the cake here:
On a long touchdown pass to senior WR Racey McMath, his first of the season, Davis-Price lit up an Arkansas edge rusher, neutralizing the fool and freeing a confident T.J Finley to step into the perfect throw to a wide open McMath.
Many expected Curry or Emery to take Clyde's mantle, in fact both Chris and John "accepted the honor of following Clyde".... yet much like we predicted before the season, Tyrion Davis-Price isn't merely looking for acceptance, he's delivering the maximum.
Finally, Ensminger and Faulk stopped messing around, grinding Arkansas down with patient drives revolving around Ty's untouchable renegade moves, imposing will, nonstop drive, underrated speed and unceasing combat.
When Ty Davis-Price receives more than 11 carries, LSU wins the football game, Ty eclipses 100 yards and he scores....every time.
When Ty receives 20 carries, victory becomes automatic....and when Coach Ed Orgeron's Tigers deputize a 100 yard rusher, LSU rocks a 26-1 record.
In short.....GIVE TY THE FOOTBALL VS A&M.
T.J FINLEY (QB / FRESHMAN)
271 PASSING YARDS
1ST DOWN COMPLETIONS: 15
3RD DOWN COMPLETIONS: 7
679 PASSING YARDS
7.8 YARDS PER ATTEMPT
QB RATING: 139.4
Riding high and efficient vs Arkansas on Saturday, freshman T.J Finley's showing may have been more impressive than his debut vs South Carolina, summoning a special array of tight throws to Gilbert, Boutte, Jenkins and Marshall for some gutty 3rd down completions throughout the game.
His passing was brilliant, spreading the ball around through a dynamic opposing secondary and hitting 7 different receivers for multiple receptions in the process.
Finley wasn't afraid to scramble for positive gains either, picking up a few conversions with QB sneaks (18 huge rushing yards).
The freshman displays poise light years ahead of his age, and that intriguingly high ceiling forces many LSU fans to scream for Finley's promotion as full time starter heading into 2021....with a real, tangible spring / summer 2021 quarterback battle already guaranteeing mass controversy, one transfer and four worthy contenders.
Even after 2020, QB Myles Brennan could still have two years of eligibility left, Finley and Johnson could restart their freshman campaigns over from scratch, as well as 2021 juggernaut freshman Garrett Nussmeier looking primed for unmistakable greatness once he arrived on the scene last year (only improving to a dizzying degree of quarterbacking certainty, enrolling early for 2021 as well)....
Amidst such a group of talent, it's hard to crown T.J Finley so soon...but what we've seen from the Ponchatoula-native has been nothing short of blistering...mistakes and all.
His Achilles heel was turnovers: the woeful red zone pick he lobbed up for South Carolina (his debut performance's only blemish), T.J's game-changing pick six and fumble vs Auburn....coming into an early morning SEC battle facing a feisty, opportunistic Razorbacks' defense, Finley's propensity for turnovers was highlighted in big yellow marker...
Still, against a defense who caught 12 interceptions and forced 5 fumbles (recovering 4) Finley kept it clean and refused to allow Arkansas' defense a moment of reprieve:
When T.J wasn't skewering passes through the eye of a needle (frustrating Barry Odom's DBs to no end after sneaky throws on 3rd or 4th down to Gilbert, Marshall, Jenkins, Boutte, Kirklin) or barely missing Gilbert for what would've been a 60 yard score, Finley marshalled the ground game with expert cadence and mobility.
We now have the blueprint for victories under the local Louisiana freshman quarterback: grinding teams away with precision short passing and large doses of the running game.
The game winning touchdown pass from Finley to Jenkins was poetry in motion:
T.J buys himself time and then hops around in the pocket, shifting the angles; however, the end result is the same due to Finley's hulking body, expert football mind and cannon for a right arm:
He extended the play just enough for the comeback routes to begin, then bulleted the blue sky into Jenkins' chest for a touchdown, Jaray getting low to make a carpet crawling catch just off the floor, the eventual game-winning 27-24 touchdown.
Who knows what Finley can do against Texas A&M, but I feel we shouldn't shackle the young man either....I want to see more deep shots vs A&M's crappy secondary.
JAY WARD (CB / SOPHOMORE)
-1 BLOCKED FG
-3 TACKLES (2 SOLO)
-1 3RD DOWN STOP
16 TACKLES (11 SOLO)
1 BLOCKED FIELD GOAL
Ward's inclusion centers around his triumph above 2020...
Turning adversity into absolute majesty on the final two plays of Arkansas' final drive, Corey Raymond's sophomore cornerback announced himself on the big stage with two rampaging, playmaking interventions of maximum conquest.
Jay Ward had to listen to unfair criticism after the Mississippi State game: he was playing for the absent Stingley after missing 2 straight weeks due to an injury of his own, one which required ankle surgery...
In the wake of Week 1's shocker, we argued in our postgame piece that Ward was hung out to dry and shouldn't have been rushed out on to the field so soon after injury, especially when Dwight McGlothern and Raydarious Jones lay dormant on the bench (Ward still defended 3 passes in the game, a game-high for either team).
Ward sat for the Vandy and South Carolina victories due to injuries or potential 2020 illness, before returning for snatches of playing time in the last few games.
Now, as Jay appears at full strength for the first time this season, DBU's 2020 National Champion made an unorthodox statement of intent, just as other DBU greats before him:
Producing 3 tackles, 2 as a solo artist, 1 pass defended and 1 blocked field goal, Ward's 3rd Down and 3 heroics dislodged the football with a precisely executed Orwellian sledgehammer hit, the National Champion's gold helmet making immediate contact on the football and knocking possession loose....
This was a hit so clean and fantastically violent it was as if Blaine Bishop's cameo in the new Tarantino film was revealed early for Christmas.
The consequences of Ward's smashmouth DBU-Certified play?
On 4th down and 3, Arkansas kicker A.J Reed lined one up from 44 yards to tie the game at 27...
Here is where LSU Legends are made...
The second the ball was snapped, our eyes were diverted by Ali Gaye's Mutumbo arms rising up the middle, yet we heard the clap of contact far too early after the kick, the stunned shake of the professional cameramen, and then on replays we all see the white Bayou Blur of Jay Ward erasing in from the edge and getting a hand to the football.
On back to back defining plays, Jay Ward won this game for LSU as a one man wrecking crew.
As Arkansas drove all the way down to LSU's 27 yard line with 1:30 left on the clock, Franks had thrown for 12 yards and 7 (on 4th down), ran for a 13 yard gain...
LSU's defense had their backs completely against the wall without Ricks or Stingley, Ojulari couldn't get pressure for the first time this season, Gaye was rendered largely ineffective besides his first drive rejection,...who was geauxing to make the plays???
The answer was Jay Ward...
ANDRE ANTHONY (DE / SENIOR)
-2 SACKS (BOTH ON 3RD DOWN)
-16 TACKLES (9 SOLO)
-4 TACKLES FOR LOSS
-8 QB PRESSURES
-3 FORCED INCOMPLETIONS
Another applicable answer to our last question "Who Will Make the plays??"
ANDRE ANTHONY produced his greatest game in purple and gold on Saturday:
After grabbing 2 sacks over the first 5 games, Anthony made some great plays on 3rd down earlier this season, grabbing his first 2 sacks on the pressurized down....
Following 3 brilliant plays vs Arkansas on 3rd down (1 QB Hit / Pressure and 2 sacks), directly taking points off the board, it's no wonder LSU are now undefeated in games where Anthony grabs a sack (every sack on 3rd down).
The senior is stepping up just as Coach Ed Orgeron advertised and hyped before the season, grabbing his first multi-sack game in his LSU career, Anthony is quickly making up for lost time and watching his NFL stock rise by the pressure.
ZACH VON ROSENBERG (PUNTER)
PUNTS OF: 50, 58, 52, 61
PUNTS INSIDE 20: 5 (8 yard line x2, 9, 4, 7)
We were feeling Jabril Cox's interception (and 1/2 TD) or Terrace Marshall's 7 catches for 57 yards, but when you consider Terrace's fumble and Cox's lack of explosive plays outside of his interception, neither felt more impactful than Von Rosenberg.
Constantly pinning Arkansas in the worst field position possible, ZVR resumed his infini-god / Von Wilder escapades, booting the ball to his will.
From 7 total punts, ZVR pinged 6 punts inside the 10 yard line...this man is obviously the best punter in college football without question. His shortest punt was a strategic 38 yarder, rattling off 4/7 total punts over 50 yards....please stay another year, Zach.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2020 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
SHOUTOUTS: RIP Coach Gordon Bombay, dying at the age of 44 in a climbing accident in Snowdonia, the voice of Geddy Lee, Harry Kane's 11 assists and Gordy Rush's purple and golden left hand.