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Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason report: LSU

By Sam Khan Jr.

Talk about a role reversal.

It was a changeup from the usual LSU narrative, which typically has the Tigers winning games with a dominant defense. For the first six games of the season, the talk was more about the offense, while the defense didn't quite resemble what Tigers fans have become accustomed to. The point totals looked more like something you'd expect from Oregon or Texas A&M: 37, 56, 45, 35, 41, 59.

But in Saturday’s win over Florida, the Tigers showed they still can win the old-fashioned way, their old-fashioned way. Against the Gators, the offense wasn't nearly as explosive as it had been but the defense was physical and dominating, staying in Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy's face virtually all day en route to a 17-6 victory.

So the Tigers, it appears, can win multiple ways. And that can only bode well for the future.

There are weapons all over the place on offense, from quarterback Zach Mettenberger, to running back Jeremy Hill to perhaps the SEC's best receiving tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has employed them beautifully.

On defense, there were struggles, and the improvement is ongoing. The defensive line and linebacker Lamin Barrow had impactful performances against the Gators. In recent weeks, Kwon Alexander continued to show why he's considered to be special. Defensive coordinator John Chavis showed pride in the way his unit responded against the Gators.

At 6-1 (3-1 in the SEC), and with No. 1 Alabama and No. 7 Texas A&M still on the schedule, LSU still controls its own destiny in the SEC West. Win and the Tigers can get where they want to go.

But now, the Tigers at least know there is more than one way that they can win football games.

Offensive MVP: Zach Mettenberger
If you were told before the season that Mettenberger would be leading the SEC in passing yards this deep into the year, would you have believed it? Mettenberger leads the league in not only that category, but in yards per attempt and passing efficiency. He's completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,890 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions and has been the lynchpin in the emergence of LSU's offense.

Defensive MVP: Anthony Johnson
It's hard to single out one player because A) the Tigers haven't played up to their defensive standards until recently and B) once they have, several players have shined. But we'll give the nod to Johnson who had strong performances against Mississippi State and Florida. Johnson leads the team in tackles for loss (5.5) and tied for the lead in sacks (two) and has a memorable interception in the first half of the loss to Georgia.