LSU vs Florida Three Observations: Burrow's Heisman statement, Rise of True Freshmen and a Dynamic Receiving Duo
Saturday night, under the lights in Death Valley, didn't disappoint as LSU pulled away late from the Florida Gators to pull off a 42-28 win.
It was only fitting that in one of the biggest games of the year, the stars shined brightest on a number of different Tigers en route to the win. Here were a few takeaways from an instant classic in Baton Rouge.
LSU receives major contributions from true freshmen
A momentum-swinging sack, a 33-yard touchdown run and a game-clinching interception. What did the three plays have in common?
How about the fact they were all made by LSU true freshmen in Saturday night's win.
It all started in the third quarter when the LSU defense surrendered another touchdown to open the second half and looked like it had no answers for the Gator offense. Facing a third-and-19, freshman safety Marcel Brooks blitzed up the middle, sacked quarterback Kyle Trask and got the defense off the field.
It only took four plays for the Tiger offense to capitalize on Brooks's play, with another freshman making an impact play. Still knotted up at 28 a piece, Joe Burrow handed the ball off to running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who scampered through an enormous hole created by the offensive line, 33 yards for what would become the game-winning touchdown.
Then there was the play of the game, a play that will be remembered in Baton Rouge for a long time. With Trask and the Florida offense methodically driving down the field in the fourth quarter, the LSU defense needed one more stop.
And Derek Stingley Jr. rose to the challenge. The freshman had been challenged all night by Trask, with the Gators having some success against the five-star freshman. On the opening drive in the third quarter, Stingley allowed four completions including a touchdown.
Then, on a third-and-1 play, with Florida at the LSU 16-yard line, Trask tried one more time to get a ball past Stingley, only this time the freshman was ready, intercepting his third ball in as many games, in the end zone to put the nail in the coffin.
"Big time players make big time plays in big time games," Ed Orgeron said. "He gave up some balls but he made the play when we needed him to."
Orgeron said all the freshmen deserve a ton of credit for the improvement in their games since arriving on campus.
"I do believe when you go back to recruiting, these guys have developed," Orgeron said. "Most of these guys have been in our camps and we know a lot about them. Our coaches do a good job of developing those guys and getting them ready. They're like veterans already."
Burrow adds to Heisman case
Another game, another Heisman worthy performance from LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
The stats speak for themselves, 21-of-24 passing for 293 yards and three touchdowns, against a defense that entered Saturday night allowing just 276 yards and 9.5 points per game.
With his latest performance against the Gators, Burrow is close to that 80 % completion percentage he's hovered around all season, tossing for 2,157 yards and 25 touchdowns with still half the season to go.
But after the game, Burrow was talking about the team and where this season could potentially lead them if the Tigers play their cards right.
"I made a comment in the locker room that essentially was don't let good enough get in the way of greatness," Burrow said. "That just means come back to work on Monday ready to go, there's still a lot of room to improve. We can't be complacent because we have so much more to accomplish and I really think we can get there."
Burrow has now thrown for 41 touchdowns in his LSU career, passing up Herb Tyler for third all time and trails only Jamarcus Russell (52) and Tommy Hodson (69) for most in program history.
The games get tougher from here on out, with SEC foes Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama over the next month of the season. And when the going gets tough, Burrow wants the ball in his hands for those situations.
"I always want the ball in my hands with the game on the line," Burrow said. "My coaches know that, my teammates know that and I think they trust me with the ball in my hands in those situations. I think our offense fits a lot of different situations so at the end of the day, we'll make the plays."
Chase, Jefferson continue unprecedented run for LSU receivers
With all the talk there's been about the sensational performance from Burrow this season, and rightfully so, the senior quarterback needs receivers to throw to and he possibly has two of the country's best in Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase.
The two were back at it again Saturday night against the Gators, with Jefferson bringing in 10 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown while Chase caught seven balls for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
"Their progression has been really fun to see," Burrow said. "Nobody can really stop them. I'm really excited because they have a chance to be really special."
The receivers are on pace to each have well over 1,000 yards receiving with double digit touchdowns as Jefferson has 670 yards and eight touchdowns on the season while Chase has 578 yards and eight touchdowns, in one less game.
"It's a phenomenal groove we're on," Jefferson said. "And to say we only run 48 plays, that's crazy. I don't think we've ever run that few plays and score as fast as we did. That just shows this offense is very dangerous."
Jefferson said he doesn't know how defenses are going to be able to stop the dynamic trio moving forward and after six games with this kind of production, he's not wrong.