LSU Wins As Visitor In Tiger Stadium
By John Ventola
LSU came up special this week. The university stepped up and came to the aid of a fellow conference institution in trouble, agreeing to use Tiger Stadium for its SEC tilt with the University of South Carolina, a school that saw its hometown of Columbia ravaged by flooding earlier in the week. Special arrangements were worked out between university officials of the two schools, LSU assuming the visitor role, agreeing to pay USC the game revenue, and making concessions (pun intended) that much of the money made on drinks and food would go to support South Carolina’s recovery.
Everything was special Saturday for LSU—everything but special teams.
The seventh-ranked Tigers used a punishing rushing attack to defeat the Gamecocks
Fournette 87-yard Touchdown Sparks Tigers
45-24, and send Coach Steve Spurrier’s squad to its fourth straight SEC loss of the year. LSU improved its record to 5-0, 3-0 in the SEC. South Carolina is now 2-4 overall.
While LSU ran for 396 yards in 54 attempts, South Carolina was able to stay in the game for almost three quarters because of sloppy special team play by the Tigers. Rashad Fenton returned a kickoff for 96 yards for a touchdown after short kickoffs earlier gave USC good field position. LSU has been weak on kickoff and punt coverage throughout the season, and needs to get this part of its game strengthened before facing its remaining SEC opponents.
Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette ran for 158 yards on 20 carries, giving the Tigers some breathing room on the second play of the third quarter with an 87-yard touchdown jaunt. Fournette’s score, his twelfth of the season, gave the Tigers a 24-10 lead. Fournette’s rushing yardage puts him at 1,022 yards for the campaign, the fifth highest total in FBS history for the first five games of a season.
To show LSU’s superiority on the ground Saturday, freshman Derrius Guice gained 161 yards on 16 carries, and Darrell Williams rushed for 61 yards in 10 rushing attempts
Guice Williams And Harris Contribute To 600-Yard Offensive Performance
. Carolina gained only 74 yards rushing for the game.
Quarterback Brandon Harris showed continued improvement by completing 18 of 28 passes for 228 touchdowns and two touchdowns. Travis Dural caught four passes for 109 yards, while Malachi Dupre had six receptions for 74 yards.
The 600-yard plus offensive effort more than made up for the special team mistakes and secondary breakdowns by the Tigers. South Carolina passed for 209 yards and two touchdowns. There is no bigger proponent of the intricate passing game than Spurrier, so overall the Tigers effort on the defensive side of the ball Saturday can be called a success.
With unbeaten Florida coming to Tiger Stadium next week, and SEC foes Ole Miss, Alabama, and Texas A & M waiting down the road, Coach Les Miles and his staff will have to tighten up some areas to avoid a late season swoon. Miles has a tendency of bringing at least one team a year into a game “flat”, or unprepared (Arkansas 17, LSU 0 last year).
This young team is talented, but it has shown a tendency to let up in focus and effort at
Tigers Will Have To Address Weaknesses Before Facing Remaining SEC Schedule
times (Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, and sometimes Saturday). For this team to get to the four team College Football Playoff, Miles will have to keep every player focused for each remaining game.
Fournette is easily the best running back I have seen wear the Purple and Gold in my sixty years of watching LSU football. He has amazing speed and power to go with an elusive running style. As I have written in other blogs, he is in the same class as Hershel Walker and Bo Jackson. Walker, Jackson, and Fournette are the three best backs in SEC history.
Fournette’s kind gesture of offering his game jersey (“as is”) to be raffled off for the relief efforts to help South Carolina flood victims was noble, but not thought out well. While Fournette was speaking from the heart in his post-game comments to a reporter, he should have run his idea past LSU officials before making such a statement.
All of the players are made familiar with certain NCAA rules that prohibit such a thing. School compliance officials meet with them regularly to make sure they understand what can be considered NCAA infractions. I am sure there was some quick action by
Fournette’s Post Game Gesture Genuine But Not Thought Out Well
LSU officials once the word spread in the LSU locker room about Fournette’s announcement. (I was stunned by his announcement and thought immediately it would raise some NCAA flags.)
Immediately after the game there was a lot of conjecture on whether or not Fournette had NCAA approval before he read his typed statement. Many said yes, some said no. I was originally in the “no” category, but began to doubt myself when I realized the statement could have been pre-approved and actually typed by an LSU official—-after all it is for a tremendous cause, and I am sure LSU and Fournette would agree they would not get any of the proceeds.
LSU officials acted quickly, as I originally said, and surely made an agreement that the jersey would be handled in such a manner with the NCAA. The NCAA then agreed that No. 7 could be raffled, but not before Fournette was sat down for a talk by Miles and others, I would think.
“Because of the situation, I think it’s possible it could get approval from the different agencies involved with this to donate the funds raised from auctioning his jersey to the relief fund,” said LSU senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar, the school’s former compliance coordinator. “I think it’s a possibility. We just need to make sure we do everything correctly so we can protect Leonard’s amateurism.”
Segar said LSU administrators appreciated Fournette’s offer, but said he did not consult the school’s compliance staff before making his announcement.
Fournette is getting a lot of attention, and all of the acclaim is well deserved. This blogger hopes he himself stays focused and keeps his mind on football. The Tigers will need him running at full throttle in the coming weeks.
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