LSU turnaround a product of ‘old school’ football
He ran for 113 yards against Ole Miss, but the final 50 yards after the game may have been the toughest.
“Took at least 10 minutes to run off the field,” said LSU running back Leonard Fournette. “Everybody wanted to take pictures. It was a wonderful feeling.”
Three weeks after its worst loss in 15 years at Auburn, LSU football is experiencing an unexpected revival. The Tigers have reeled off wins at Florida and against Kentucky and Ole Miss.
As the Tigers prepare for Alabama, a source close to the program said the reasons for LSU’s turnaround are many. Defensively, freshman defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and sophomore linebacker Kendall Beckwith have shined. Beckwith has started the last three games. And, in wins over Kentucky and Ole Miss, he had 14 tackles, two for losses.
In the 10-7 win over Ole Miss, Beckwith made an NFL play in the fourth quarter. On third-and-2 from the LSU 48, Rebel running back l’Tavious Mathers ran left and was headed for open space. But Beckwith pursued and slammed Mathers to the ground for a one-yard gain.
On the next play, the Tigers stopped Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace on a fourth-and-1 sneak.
The source said Fournette, Terrence Magee, Kenny Hilliard and Darrell Williams all have accepted their roles in the running back rotation. Fournette pounds defenses early. Magee, Hilliard and Williams then enter later with fresh legs.
On LSU’s 95-yard, game-winning drive against Ole Miss, Hilliard had runs of 16, 8 and 18 yards against a tired Rebel defense. The rotation also allows LSU to have its experienced players, Magee and Hilliard, fresh in the fourth quarter.
The source said the progress of quarterback Anthony Jennings has been overlooked. Jennings has done a much better job calling protections and reading coverages. His maturation and recognition skills have allowed the LSU offense to operate much more consistently.
And, the source said, team chemistry and leadership have been a big part of the turnaround. After the loss at Auburn, at a team meeting, offensive tackle La’el Collins and Magee told the team that everyone had to hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability.
Left guard Vadal Alexander said LSU is doing what LSU does best.
“We had to play some old-school LSU football,” said Alexander. “We have to realize that we have the talent and power to do anything we choose to do.”
So, led by a resurgent defense and an old-school running attack, the Tigers prepare for the annual tussle with Alabama. It will be hard to top the drama of a Saturday night in Tiger Stadium against Ole Miss. The 95-yard touchdown drive by the Tigers will live forever in LSU lore.