by Jeff Pizzo
Both LSU and the Saints earned it this weekend, although both teams did it in extremely different ways. LSU came back from a 10 point 4th quarter deficit to beat Florida 28-24 in what was, in my opinion, the best damn football game I've ever seen. Follow that up with the Saints performance on Sunday afternoon, which was the complete opposite.
What transpired Saturday night in Tiger Stadium between LSU and Florida was
a game that two teams refused to lose, but one team had a raucous home crowd behind them and the extra effort to do whatever it took in order to win the game. I watched Jacob Hester essentially carry the team on his back in the 4th quarter. When he broke off a long run and barreled down a Florida defender doing so, the Tiger bench and crowd erupted. It was almost an omen of what was going to happen a few plays later. Hester seems to embody the character of the team and its coach - work hard, pretty much keep quiet and let the scoreboard say the rest. His will and effort helped provide LSU the victory on Saturday night. The five-for-five on 4th downs also helped, but the majority of those came from who? Mr. Hester.
He may not be as talented as Keiland Williams, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy, but what he does not have in "talent" he has in intelligence. Hester seems to make all the right reads, picks up blocks in pass protection and is averaging five yards per carry. So, regardless of your opinion of whether he touches the ball too much, the bottom line is Hester is productive every time he touches the ball and even when he doesn't touch the ball. When evaluating Miles' decision to use Hester as often as he does, make sure that you watch the 4th quarter of the Florida game and glance at LSU's current win/loss record. Case closed.
Next week the Tigers visit the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. I'm sure the phrase "let-down game" will come up this week. We'll see what transpires with practice throughout the week and what Miles says regarding injuries and such - especially with WR Early Doucet. My only hope is that against Kentucky, QB Ryan Perrilloux throws the ball while he is in the game because at the current rate, defenses know that he's running it when he checks in the game. More on this Friday.
What can be said about the Saints' situation? It's hard to fathom this is pretty much the same team that was in the NFC Championship game a year ago. I still maintain that they are really trying too hard to get that first win and the proverbial monkey off their backs. They don't play smart and just don't seem to have that swagger that they had a year ago. I'm not sure if that's coaching or confidence.
When Drew Brees says, "This is happening for a reason," I do believe in that. Everything happens for a reason and the terrible thing about that is we have no idea what the next day or game holds in store. Chip Lohmiller, er, Olindo Mare is abysmal, penalties occur too much and at inopportune times, play calling is suspect and so on. I could go on for a few more paragraphs about the current state of affairs regarding the team on Airline Drive, but I'll trust that if you're reading this, you watched what happened on Sunday in the Superdome.
We'll see what happens next week with LSU and the Saints. Two wins from both of them would be very nice. LSU, with a win, would still be undefeated and have Auburn coming into town, while the Saints would get their first win of the year. Hopefully, both teams will "earn it."