For the last two weeks the LSU Tigers have not played like a team that could compete for a national championship this season.
Yes, the Tigers have won the last two games 12-10 over Auburn and 38-22 over Towson, but the sloppy play, turnovers, fumbles, dropped passes, penalties, missed tackles and watching quarterback Zach Mettenberger have moments of brilliance and moments of bewilderment all raise the question of whether LSU can turn up the intensity knob this week against Florida.
Against Towson, the one real bright spot was seeing wide receiver Odell Beckham finally play like an all-SEC performer for the first time this season. Early on the speedy Beckham struggled holding on to the ball and didnít seem to be on the same page as quarterback Zach Mettenberger. But against Towson Beckham caught 5 passes for 128 yards and two scores.
He was one of the few bright spots in a game that was played sloppily at best. It has been very apparent just how much the Tigers have missed former Hahnville High School standout running back Alfred Blue over the last two weeks and also just how much they have struggled to fill the huge void left by the season-ending knee injury to starting left tackle Chris Faulk.
The Tigers have a bevy of talented backs, but last week the running backs fumbled the ball four times and Mettenberger put it on the turf once himself. Blue had become the "Lightning" to Kenny Hilliardís "Thunder" in the Tiger backfield and his loss has been noticeable, but the Tigers have depth at running back. That canít be said for the left tackle spot where it is obvious they will have to move senior right tackle Alex Hurst to the left side.
Right now the Tigers need a jump start to get some energy back on their football team. While the defense did not play well against Towson, I donít think that will be a long term issue. Right now the Tigers need to find some consistency in the passing game and that means good protection and for Mettenberger to throw the ball with better accuracy and touch when he has wide open receivers downfield. The last two weeks Mettenberger has struggled to connect on easy throws and you just canít leave those sort of opportunities on the field.
Florida will take advantage of those miscues by the Tigers and this will be the first test of the 2012 season to see just how much the young quarterback has grown.
The reality is that the Tigers are missing the likes of Alfred Blue, Chris Faulk, Tyrann Mathieu, J.C. Copeland (who was injured in the second half against Towson) and outside linebacker Tahj Jones, who was lost for the season due to academics.
Saturday is the first real test to see if the Tigers can bounce back after two disappointing efforts.
Reed leads NFL in
INT return yardage
Former Destrehan High School and future NFL Hall of Fame free safety Ed Reed continues to be recognized as arguably the greatest safety to ever play pro football. Despite playing 11 seasons in the NFL and suffering through some injuries the last few years, Reed has continued to play at a high level and his record-breaking performances continue to mount up.
Reed now has 59 career pass interceptions, 101 pass deflections, 11 forced fumbles and is now the NFL all-time leader with interception return yardage with 1,506.
The perennial All-Pro with the Baltimore Ravens quickly got the attention of rookie Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
"Watching how he plays on film is remarkable," the Browns rookie quarterback said. "I have watched him for years on television, but watching what he does on film and today in person is like watching a master of his craft. He is so good at baiting you to throw where you think you have a chance to make a play and he gets there to break up the pass.
"Everyone says it, but you really donít appreciate it until you play against him just how talented he really is. Reed is truly a one of a kind football player."