LSU might be starting to hit its stride at the midway point of the season. The Tigers took down the No. 8 Florida Gators 35-28 thanks to a heroic touchdown from kicker Trent Domingue on a fake field goal. That play did salvage what was a lousy performance from LSU’s weakest link, its special teams units.
Here are the grades for LSU following its biggest win of the season:
LSU put up its most balanced offensive output of the season. Leonard Fournette was not the story of Saturday’s game. This week, Brandon Harris deserves the accolades for his performance. He completed 13 of 19 passes with 202 yards and two touchdowns. Fournette ran all over the nation’s 12th-ranked run defense (entering Saturday) with 180 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 31 carries. Malachi Dupre reeled in two touchdowns and the offense looked in sync for a good portion of the game. The Tigers also scored touchdowns on all four of their red-zone opportunities. This was the type of performance Tigers fans have been waiting for from this offense.
The defense could have done better against backup quarterback Treon Harris. The Tigers stifled Florida’s running game and limited the Gators to just 55 rushing yards on 31 carries. LSU did not force a turnover out of Harris and the Gators offense. Linebacker Deion Jones and defensive lineman Lewis Neal both had monstrous games. The duo led the team with 10 total tackles and were the catalysts on LSU’s ferocious front seven. Partly because of their play, the Tigers constantly won the battles in the trenches. Neal had three sacks and the Tigers had five altogether. LSU also shut the Gators out in the fourth quarter, as the defense closed this one out.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
The fake field goal bumped this up from a “D+” or “C-.” The grade should have been much worse, but the play that changed LSU’s season came from the special teams unit. The fake field goal was one of the few plays the special teams unit executed properly. Tre’Davious White cost the Tigers seven points after muffing a punt in the first quarter. LSU’s punt coverage also struggled. The Tigers surrendered a 70-yard punt return touchdown by Antonio Callaway that tied the game at 28. Special teams play for LSU’s did not get any better Saturday night.
LSU’s game plan was sound for the most part. But once again, LSU got punched in the mouth early in the second half. The Tigers failed to adjust in the halftime locker room and allowed the Gators to climb out of a 14-point hole. Miles earned a ton of credit for the gutsy fake field goal, while offensive coordinator Cam Cameron created a quality game plan that featured a flea flicker.
The Tigers picked up their best win of the season and staved off a very good team that was riding a wave of momentum. LSU has plenty to improve upon, especially on special teams. There were two key takeaways that should make LSU fans feel great about the rest of the season: Fournette proved he can run through anyone; and Brandon Harris is becoming an impact player on this offense.