SI Vault
 
THEY PLAY OFFENSE TOO IN BATON ROUGE
Stewart Mandel
January 16, 2008
MATT FLYNN AND THE RUNNING GAME STARRED IN A ROUT OF THE NO. 9 HOKIES
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 16, 2008

They Play Offense Too In Baton Rouge

MATT FLYNN AND THE RUNNING GAME STARRED IN A ROUT OF THE NO. 9 HOKIES

View CoverRead All Articles

From SI.COM, September 9, 2007

DON'T MAKE TOO MUCH OF THIS," TIGERS COACH LES MILES cautioned a roomful of reporters who had just watched his team demolish previously ninth-ranked Virginia Tech and put up 598 yards of offense against the nation's top-ranked defense the past two seasons. "We're so far away from being a second-ranked team, it's not even funny. 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, and most of us had already decided earlier in the week your guys were probably going to beat the Hokies. But 48-7?

We knew the Glenn Dorsey-led Bayou Bengals would field a dominant defense in 2007, but the true revelation of this game was quarterback Matt Flynn and the offense. A week after being accused of being too "vanilla" in its 45-0 opening win over Mississippi State, LSU unleashed a seemingly endless array of plays and formations.

Basically, the Tigers have a whole lot of speed—and coordinator Gary Crowton 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 than their opponent.

Brandon LaFell was Flynn's favorite target, catching seven passes for 125 yards. But LSU spread the ball around to six receivers in much the same way it distributes the rock among its deep stable of tailbacks.

Perhaps the most impressive facet of the Tigers' offense is the seemingly unpredictable fashion in which it rotates its tailbacks, each of whom has his own style. While Crowton scripts the plays, running backs coach Larry Porter decides who goes in, and, according to the sophomore speedster Williams, "sometimes he kind of makes a last-minute decision. He keeps us guessing." Williams himself finished with the most yardage of the group (127), and the powerful Hester got the most carries (12), bulldozing his way to 81 yards. Scott added 24 yards on four carries and, lest anyone forget about him, LSU inserted its fastest player of all, pint-sized receiver-return man Trindon Holliday, as a running back late in the game. Almost immediately he burst for a 22-yard gain.

If there's one lasting impression from Saturday's game, it's LSU's impressive versatility. Mix a veteran, quarterback with an unpredictable offense and a surplus of speed at seemingly every position, and it's easy to see why the Tigers are considered a favorite to reach the Superdome in January. Not that Miles would want us to say that.

SEPTEMBER 8 at Baton Rouge

VIRGINIA TECH 7
LSU 48

GAME 2
Kirston Pittman (49) and the LSU defense stuffed running back Branden Ore and teammates, allowing the Hokies only 71 yards on the ground, 78 yards through the air and 11 first downs. As for the LSU offense? It had 598 yards.

Continue Story
1 2