They can play offense, too
Tigers show they're more than a defensive juggernaut
Posted: Sunday September 9, 2007 3:00AM; Updated: Sunday September 9, 2007 3:16AM
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Les Miles would rather I not provide you my honest assessment of his team's 48-7 demolition of previously ninth-ranked Virginia Tech here Saturday night.
"Don't make too much of this," the Tigers' coach cautioned a room full of reporters who had just watched his team put up 598 yards of offense against the nation's top-ranked defense the past two seasons. "You can save the accolades for later in life, because all we've done is win two football games."
To adhere to the coach's wishes, I would probably have to end this column within the next two sentences -- because it's impossible to describe what happened here Saturday night without heaping all sorts of obsequious adjectives on the current No. 2 team in the country.
"We're so far away from being a second-ranked team, it's not even funny," Miles insisted. "We've got weeks to go."
Fair enough, coach, but someone's got to sit in that No. 2 spot when the new polls come out Sunday, and considering No. 1 USC did not play Saturday, I'd have to imagine it's going to be your team. While it's true most of us had already decided earlier in the week your guys were probably going to beat the Hokies ... 48-7? Seriously? Even your own quarterback, Matt Flynn, didn't see that one coming.
"He predicted we'd put up 35," Tigers receiver Brandon LaFell revealed after the fact. "We were joking around right before we got on the bus, and he stood up and said that." (Flynn was in the training room after the game receiving treatment for an ankle injury -- the one negative for LSU on Saturday, though its not believed to be serious -- and was not available to confirm said prediction.)
We knew the Glenn Dorsey-led Bayou Bengals would field a dominant defense in 2007, and indeed, the Tigers have now allowed just seven points in their first eight quarters of football. But the true revelation of Saturday night's game was Flynn and the offense. A week after being accused of being too "vanilla" in their 45-0 opening win over Mississippi State, the Tigers unleashed a seemingly endless array of plays and formations.
Basically, the Tigers have a whole lot of speed -- and coordinator Gary Crowton, LSU's offseason import from Oregon, has a whole bunch of different ways to use it. In the first half alone, we saw the shotgun, the power-I, the spread-option, screens, sweeps, shovel passes and a whole lot more.
We also saw one tailback, Jacob Hester, get the party started with his bruising, physical style, then give way to a second, shiftier tailback, Charles Scott, who was impressive in his own right before giving way to the Tigers' speediest runner yet, Keiland Williams, who, in the game's defining moment, took an option pitch from Flynn, hurdled one of his own linemen who'd been laid out, took a sharp cut to his left and raced 67 yards to the end zone.
That play put LSU up 24-0 just three minutes into the second quarter, and it was immediately clear the Tigers were playing on a whole other level from their opponent.
"I give all the credit to LSU," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said afterward. "What a good football team."