There were few surprises at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge today, as the LSU Tigers easily handled the Kentucky Wildcats 35-7 in a game remarkable mostly for the defense played by both teams. LSU was especially tough on Kentucky's passing game, or rather, lack thereof, which is notable since the West Virginia Mountaineers reeled off
180 463 yards through the air against LSU's highly ranked defense.
Kentucky's futility on offense this year has been truly epic, and this game was no exception. Morgan Newton was so hapless in the first half that grayshirt freshman Max Smith was given the start in the second half. Unfortunately, Smith was even more wretched than Newton was, producing zero completions and -23 yards on a variety of sacks.
LSU played this game very conservatively, and Les Miles & Co. gave Kentucky very few opportunities for big plays or turnovers on defense. LSU essentially just played the "3 yards and a cloud of dust" game, aided by two big plays and several egregiously poor calls by the officials. In fact, I think the official's efforts can be credited with no less than 8 points and possibly as many as 14, assuming LSU's kicker would miss a chip-shot field goal.
Of course, the official's abdication of their duties did not impact the outcome other than in terms of respectability -- LSU would have easily won this football game if every single close call had gone Kentucky's way, so I mention it only for the salt it rubs in a fairly raw wound.
For Kentucky, we saw exactly what we have seen all year -- a decent SEC defense left on the field far too often, eventually tiring and giving up points reluctantly, to go along with one of the most inept offenses since Bill Curry stalked the sidelines. It is certainly artless to say that the Wildcats suck on offense, but they do, and they are showing very little improvement quarter to quarter and game to game.
- Kentucky managed 89 yards running and 66 yards passing. That's just debilitating.
- Morgan Newton continues to struggle to get rid of the football, and locks on to his receivers. For as highly touted as Newton was out of high school, he has developed into a disappointment on par with Aaron Boyd.
- Winston Guy and Danny Trevathan are tackling machines. 12 and 13 respectively, along with 11 for Ronnie Snead. They had lots and lots of opportunities, though.
- Kentucky's defense was very good, and if UK had an offense like we had in 2007, this would have been a real football game. Unfortunately, Andrè Woodson and Keenan Burton ain't walkin' through that door.
- 3 whole 3rd down conversions? Yeah, that's about as bad as it gets.
- I keep waiting for the offense to become at least competent. I am forced to admit that it may never happen.
- Once again, the lack of imagination and flair in the playcalling was striking. LSU was as well, but they don't need imagination or flair -- they have brute force on their side and an endless supply of talented backs.
- At this point in the season, I think the line is getting tired of blocking for Newton. He's making them look bad, and nobody wants to look bad. The receivers are as much to blame as Newton is, as they are not getting open. Many of these sacks (5 today) are not the fault of the line, but they'll get blamed anyway.
- I don't know whether to blame Newton or the receivers for the horrible throws that often fly down the field at random, seemingly to nobody in particular.
- The good news? Well, the defense played pretty well, and UK only turned the ball over once on an all-out blitz (for an LSU touchdown, of course) that Max Smith somehow failed to detect in spite of LSU having 11 guys on the line of scrimmage within 12 feet of him.
- More good news -- LSU's defense did not outscore UK's offense.
- Even more good news -- Matt Roark caught more balls than he dropped.
- The best news of all -- UK appears to have come through the game without any injuries.
What does this mean for our next game with the South Carolina Gamecocks? Well, the Gamecocks are surprisingly impotent on offense despite having Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery. I suppose that gives Kentucky a chance, but if history is any guide, the Wildcats are so stupefyingly bad on offense that the only hope they have of outscoring even a weak USC offensive performance is if they hypnotize them punting the ball over and over again. I thought I saw a couple of LSU players nodding off out there today.
Well, we are what we are -- an SEC defense (as long as we aren't playing Florida, in which case we are an FCS defense) and a Division III offense, and that may be flattering the offense quite a bit.