When the offseason hallucinating about the imminent total demise of LSU football was in full swing, I asked the following question: If you are great defensively, and solid or better at quarterback, how can you be a bad team?
The Tigers answered many questions in a 33-17 rout of Miami.
Yes, they are better than many believed, and yes Miami was overrated.
All the hype about the “U” in the preseason couldn’t be based on how the Hurricanes finished the previous season. Miami lost its final three games, allowing 96 points.
Yes, they are a good team, and they will prove that during the season. ABC analyst Todd Blackledge, who had a stellar opening game, was right on it when he said Miami wouldn’t play a better defense all season unless they played Clemson.
“This is an elite level LSU defense,” said Blackledge.
Will the Tigers be good enough to overcome the loss of pass rush specialist K’Lavon Chaisson? Chaisson is lost for the year with a knee injury.
We will see if others step up.
But, if LSU has to send extra rushers at the passer, Dave Aranda can do so with excellent corners behind them.
In his first game since 2016, cornerback Kristian Fulton showed some solid cover skills.
And, he also showed catch up speed.
On a third and 11 play, Fulton covered the outside receiver, who turned inside and quickly spun to the boundary. Fulton fell down but still, with closing speed, made the tackle, short of the first down. It was an elite level play.
Quarterback Joe Burrow play solidly. On a throw that a Miami defender dropped, Ricky Jefferson ran the wrong route. There were some drops sprinkled in, including one over the middle by Derrick Dillon that would have resulted in a big gain.
Burrow also drew Miami offsides twice at critical junctures that resulted in Hurricane penalties.
LSU was looking for an answer at tailback and made have found it in senior Nick Brossette.
Brossette ran decisively, knowing when to put his head down and get three yards, and when to look to outside for additional yards.
After his fumble on the first play of the Troy game last season, Brossette was hustled off to the football version of Siberia, carrying the ball only six times the rest of the season.
He learned from that experience and promised that his senior season would be different. Check out his celebration after his 50 yard touchdown run. The smile was big, but the celebration was somewhat muted. Here’s an experienced player who understands not to get too high or too low.
Brossette knows that life in college football can change on a dime.
The LSU kicking game is where the Tigers made their biggest improvement.
Transfer kicker Cole Tracy was 4 for 4 on field goals with a long of 54. He made all three extra points.
Punter Zach Von Rosenberg averaged 46.7 yards a boot.
Miami punter Zach Feagles averaged 36.4 per punt.
LSU kickoff man Avery Atkins was outstanding.
Six of his 8 kickoffs went for touchbacks. The others were booted to the goal line and the three yard line. Atkins joined the Tigers as a preferred walk on in January. In the irony of ironies, he hails from Auburn, Alabama.
In four quarters, you got a glimpse of how Ed Orgeron plans to navigate one of the toughest schedules in college football.
Take care of the ball, be great on defense, and in the kicking game, and be efficient on offense.
The best comparison I can make is the Auburn teams when Tommy Tuberville was the head coach.
His teams won a lot of games by counting on his defense, a solid running game, and efficient quarterback play.
Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox was an efficient lefty, who could make good throws and run an offense.
He was good enough to beat Alabama three times.
As for the Tigers, they have the formula to be competitive, even against the elite teams in college football.
Run it, play great defense, win the field position battle, and when you get to the 25 yard line, at least come away with three.
It isn’t sexy, but it is winning football. Just ask the U.