Scooter Hobbs column: LSU likes to make it interesting

Published 6:55 am Monday, October 17, 2022

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Certainly, there was no need Saturday night for that much late angst and hand-wringing in a 45-35 victory over Florida that could have been wrapped up with a purple-and-gold ribbon much sooner.

So look at this way: the Tigers were a 3-point underdog. Heading into the game in a tough environment, they would have taken any flavor victory and hopped on the team charter home without question.

That would have been the easy way after doing everything right — except more special teams blunders — en route to a 42-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But at this point in the season, it’s hard to quibble with a victory.

Kayshon Boutte finally got introduced to the offense — six catches, 115 yards, a touchdown.

Running backs contributed to, of all the things, the running game — 106 yards for Josh Williams.

Jayden Daniels, you know him. He’s kind of been LSU’s offense, such that it was.

But where did that Jayden Daniels come from?

Suffice it to say, head coach Brian Kelly won’t get any pesky questions this week about the possibility of testing another quarterback, you know, maybe a more traditional drop-back thrower.

All Daniels did was account for all six LSU touchdowns — three via his arm, three with his legs — but — and this is important — don’t just look at the numbers like 349 yards passing on 23-32 attempts.

All you had to do was look at Daniels. He looked like an honest quarterback, still with good legs.

He was in control of a workable offense, not desperately trying to make something happen. He went through proper progressions and, lo and behold, found eager targets awaiting.

He took his shots downfield when he had the numbers and good things happened, like completions of 24, 26, 40 yards, not to mention a 54-yard perfectly thrown touchdown strike to Jaray Jenkins.

LSU looks a lot better all around at 5-2, 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference, and not just the record.

The Tigers might even be fun to watch.

Just don’t get too comfortable.

It’s always something.

The usual special teams foul-ups were there, of course, but this time they were just a nuisance. They were minor setbacks and didn’t really get in the way of that elusive fast start, the one the Tigers have been searching for against breathing competition.

And LSU did find a nice work-around by not tempting a punt until the fourth quarter.

So how did it still get semi-queasy trying to finish a 42-21 lead after three quarters?

The story will be — and it could have ben epic — that it was all due to Gainesville’s respect for late native son Tom Petty and the “Won’t Back Down” tribute/celebration between the third and fourth quarters.

I would submit that the LSU defense’s foolhardy decision to “Won’t Wrap Up” had more to do with it.

Anyway, the game’s tone did change, and the crowd woke up after after Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson twisted and turned for 81 full yards and a score on the fourth quarter’s second play.

LSU’s defense didn’t pursue him so much as it escorted him. A half dozen or so Tigers took awkward shots at trying to dislodge the ball when wrapping up and putting him on the ground would have been the prudent move.

Maybe it was a teachable moment not involving special teams.

That’s part of what made things seem all the more dicey in the final minutes, even as the LSU offense looked well on its way to running out the clock with a 42-35 lead.

That would have been the easy way home, one more answer, as they’d been doing all night, to everything the Gators did to get back in the game.

And a third-and-1 conversion deep in Gators territory would have done it, but two consecutive false starts forced LSU to throw caution to wind and kick a field goal. Remember the extra point that would have tied the Florida State game?

Not to worry. The kick was perfect, and it brought kick off coverage into the equation.

Mission accomplished there. And it meant the Gators would have had to attempt an onside kick even if they could have scored.

But would anybody have trusted the Tigers’ special teams to handle that kind of haphazard foolishness?

Probably not. But it never came to it.

So the Tigers flew back to Baton Rouge feeling a lot better about themselves.

They now have a bar set higher for how good they really can play.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

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