Auburn vs. LSU: 10 Things We Learned in LSU Tigers' Win
Against the toughest opponent yet, the LSU Tigers proved that they are for real in the SEC.
In a 35-21 win against Auburn, LSU outplayed Auburn in every phase of the football game. However, the game was still close at the end.
Was the win impressive enough to declare LSU "for real" in the conference? Certainly—but that doesn't mean LSU is without need of improvement.
Here's what we learned after LSU's first SEC win of the season.
Why Jeremy Hill Starts
Jeremy Hill is the best running back on LSU's roster.
He may not be the most popular, but when he receives the handoff and breaks the line of scrimmage, he is a threat for scoring.
Heck, on his first two rushes of the game, he accumulated 59 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
With 140 rushing yards in the first half, Hill exploited Auburn's soft spot in the defense with downhill running. Hill versus Todd Gurley of the Georgia Bulldogs next week should be epic.
Adjustments Need to Be Made in Deep Coverage
Auburn completed one too many deep passes on LSU.
LSU safety Micah Eugene was burned on two deep passes by Sammie Coates, which led to two scores from Auburn.
You better believe this LSU defense will face better quarterbacks than Nick Marshall in the future, and Eugene's coverage can't open the doors for an aerial onslaught down the road.
The Tigers need to tighten up the coverage moving forward.
LSU's Speed on Defense Can Give Any Read-Option Team Fits
Gus Malzahn's offense is one big gimmick.
It's all about getting defenses off balance with reads and misdirecting speed plays with backs. If LSU stayed at home and won individual battles, this game was most likely going to get ugly.
Get ugly it did. LSU's linebackers ran sideline to sideline, while the defensive ends shifted direction and tracked down running backs from behind.
If teams want to run the read-option against LSU, they're going to have to find more creative ways to gain hard-fought yards.
LSU Will Take What the Defense Gives It
This might not seem like a big deal, but it is to LSU fans.
Under Cam Cameron, we've talked about how he's improved Zach Mettenberger, but one thing he's done significantly as a whole is take what the defense has given him.
Instead of hard-headedly running the football against a defense that puts eight men in the box, he's optioned to play-action passes and opened up the passing game.
Whenever Auburn stacked the box, Mettenberger threw over the top, and when the defense was vulnerable on the interior, Hill received the handoff and made Auburn pay. LSU is in the spirit of taking rather than giving this season.
Rain Plays to LSU's Favor
A sloppy playing field only slowed one team down on Saturday night.
Auburn was fumbling, mishandling snaps and losing its footing, while LSU players were staying on their feet and running into the end zone. Through the heavy rain, LSU ran and passed the ball effectively while refusing to have a slip-up in the secondary.
It might not have been the aerial attack that Tigers fans have come to expect in recent weeks, but LSU's ground-and-pound in the rain proved deadly.
Tre'Davious White Deserves to Start in the Secondary
The performance of the night goes to Tre'Davious White.
His sure tackling on the outside has given LSU a physical presence it desperately needed. Taking away short gains in the passing game was a huge help for LSU's dominant defensive performance.
Auburn was unable to create first downs with short throws on the outside like Kent State did last week, and it was because of stellar play from White. Dwayne Thomas helped with some great pass deflections and superb coverage all night. He'll likely see his playing time increase moving forward also.
Tigers Special Teams Is on Point
From punt coverage to kickoff coverage to Colby Delahoussaye's perfect season, LSU's special teams has not received the credit it deserves.
Sure, it was shaky in the opening game against TCU, but the unit as a whole has rebounded impressively.
Delahoussaye has not missed an extra point or field goal this season, Odell Beckham has been electrifying in punt returns, and the coverage on kicks since the opener has been unrelenting.
Right now, this LSU team is great in all three phases of the game.
Late-Game Vanilla Play-Calling Won't Cut It
This game was a lot closer than it should have been.
On LSU's last two offensive possessions, the Tigers ran it straight down the gut with plays that were easily defended.
That forced two three-and-outs and gave Auburn an opportunity to strike back. Luckily for LSU, Auburn failed to do so.
Look, I know LSU was trying to milk the clock, but just because the Tigers were pounding the rock doesn't mean LSU had to run it straight up the gut consecutively like that. The strategy was easily defended and kept the game within reach.
LSU Offense Is Capable of Answering When Needed
Though LSU jumped all over Auburn, the game turned out to have its seesaw moments.
Anytime Auburn scored or gained momentum, LSU marched right back onto the field and keep its lead. The 21-point margin seemed to be in effect all night, ever since the Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 lead.
That's important moving forward. You always want to know your team can respond to anything, and LSU's offense is capable of regaining momentum through the air and on the ground.
All the great teams are able to do this, and after the Auburn win, LSU proved it's capable as well.
LSU Is Making a Statement
So here's the deal—LSU sent a statement with a 35-21 win against Auburn.
Auburn was looking like a team with a lot of promise this season, and Gus Malzahn has his team believing in a possible SEC West title.
Well, LSU gave Auburn a reality check and subsequently told the entire SEC that the Tigers are the team to beat in this conference.
Right now, there's not a more frightening team in the country.