Apparently LSU likes doing things in twos this season —- and that’s not a reference to repeating as national champion.
The Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC), ranked No. 13 in the first BCS standings, are using the buddy system as they prepare for Saturday’s visit from No. 7 Georgia (6-1, 3-1). When the Bulldogs arrive in Baton Rouge, they will face two quarterbacks, two tailbacks and a defense coached by two coordinators.
Duplication certainly worked well for LSU this past weekend. The Tigers got better-than-usual production in all three areas en route to a hard-fought 24-17 win at South Carolina.
LSU coach Les Miles held his weekly news conference Monday, and here’s what he said regarding the Tigers’ two-pronged approach.
The Tigers, who dismissed starter Ryan Perrilloux in the summer, are utilizing two. One, Jarrett Lee, is considered the passing quarterback. The other, Andrew Hatch, is considered the runner.
What made them particularly effective against the Gamecocks is that they swapped roles a few times.
Lee is considered the starter and plays the majority of the downs. He has been erratic —- 68-for-115 for 852 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions —- and was again on Saturday with a few poorly thrown passes and an interception that led to a South Carolina touchdown. But he completed 16-for-26 passes for 189 yards and engineered another game-winning drive.
Hatch, a junior walk-on and transfer from Harvard, rushed five times for 19 yards and completed 2 of 3 passes for 10. He’s known for having a calming influence.
“I think both guys bring different characteristics and qualities to our offense, and that’s something we need,” Miles said. “I like the way Lee throws it, and I certainly like the way Hatch handles certain situations allowing us to gut it out.”
Before Saturday, LSU has been all about junior tailback Charles Scott, who was getting early Heisman Trophy mention as the SEC’s leading rusher and the undisputed primary weapon for the Tigers.
But that changed against the Gamecocks. Scott, who was held to 35 yards on 12 carries against Florida, split his carries with junior Keiland Williams. Williams ran 15 times for 72 yards; Scott had 16 for 61 and scored two touchdowns.
More notable was the fact that the 5-foot-11, 221-pound Scott lined up at fullback several times. It’s a look Miles likes.
“We went a little bit more with Keiland Williams because it appeared to us like he had the hot hand and was freshest. I think that’s what we need to do, to put the most ready back on the field,” Miles said. “Charles Scott will still be our starter and will still get the lion’s share of the work. But I like what we do with Charles at the fullback spot. We’ll throw it, we’ll run it, he’ll block from there, and he’ll carry the football from there.”
The Tigers went with two men —- Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale —- as co-defensive coordinators to replace Bo Pelini, who left to become Nebraska’s head coach. Before this past Saturday, that duo had absorbed double the criticism.
Normally one of the SEC’s most dominant units, the Tigers’ defense gave up 51 points at Florida and went into the South Carolina game ranked ninth in the league in total defense (303.6 ypg).
But LSU unveiled some new wrinkles, going with four defensive ends on the line and employing a third defensive back on passing downs. The Tigers recorded six sacks and limited South Carolina to 42 yards in the second half.
“That’s something that the defensive staff came up with and looked for the opportunity to get our best rushers on the field,” Miles said of Kirston Pittman and Rahim Alem on the outside and Tyson Jackson and Tremaine Johnson on the inside. “And, boy, it paid some dividends.”