LSU plays hard and well for beleaguered Orgeron to stun Florida

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If Ed Orgeron’s job status is in peril, which it would appear to be to most observers, Saturday’s game with heavily favored Florida would go a long way toward gauging the temperature of his banged-up team in relation to how it felt about its coach.

The available players provided a resounding example of support.

For the second straight year, a short-handed, beleaguered LSU team shocked a nationally ranked Florida team, this time in a 49-42 shootout at Tiger Stadium.

LSU did it by making big plays on defense and by bludgeoning the Florida defensive front, which had previously been good against the run, to the tune of 321 yards rushing.

The Tigers came up with four Gator turnovers while Tyrion Davis-Price ran hard, ran to daylight, and pounded Florida for 36 carries for 287 yards and three touchdowns, setting a school record in the process for yards rushing in a game.

The final interception by LSU was by Damone Clark inside of two minutes to play in the game and sealed the verdict.

A team captain, Clark played like it, recording a team-high 11 tackles to go with his interception.

Davis-Price, in his last two games, is a different runner.

In previous games, Davis -Price would simply run at the designed hole and run into people, more often than not. Of course, much of that was not of his own doing.

Still, what we have seen recently from Davis-Price is a runner who waits patiently for blocks to develop, sees the hole and hits it decisively. That approach is paying off.

When you win up front, you win football games.

LSU came in with an excellent game plan, employing an extra offensive lineman at tight end and using Jack Mashburn as a second, excellent, road-grating tight end. The plan worked to perfection.

For once, the game was not completely on Max Johnson, who has taken a ton of hits this year and has been asked to throw the ball much too much, against teams getting pressure and teams dropping seven and eight men into coverage.

Johnson did his job well Saturday, with a workmanlike, mistake-free performance, going 14-of-24 for 133 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson was sacked just once.

In the absence of Kayshon Boutte, Jaray Jenkins, who has had some issues with drops, caught the ball very well and made his catches count, snaring four passes for 50 yards and three touchdowns.

It was a strange game for the LSU defense, which gave up 488 yards to Florida and were totally mesmerized by the presence of reserve quarterback Anthony Richardson, who riddled the Tigers with big pass plays and runs, accounting for three passing touchdowns and one rushing in less than a half.

LSU finally got the stop it needed when, with pressure up the middle, Richardson committed the big mistake, throwing the interception to Clark.

Richardson relieved Emery Jones, who struggled mightily against an inspired Tiger defense.

Once again, LSU was short-handed in large fashion against Florida, just like at Gainesville a year ago. This time, the Tigers were without Ali Gaye, Andre Anthony, Eli Ricks, Derrick Stingley Jr., Major Burns, Joseph Evans, Jared Small and Boutte.

They were already without John Emery and Myles Brennan.

As was the case in Gainesville, LSU prevailed again.

Orgeron may still be short-term at LSU. Perhaps if his team can rally and continue to play inspired football, that mindset and the minds that matter will think otherwise.

Then again, perhaps the dye is cast.

Regardless of which of those premises is true, LSU fans left the premises of Tiger Stadium smiling Saturday, beating a heated, even hated rival and helping send the Gators season further into oblivion with three losses, the same number at LSU.

In the process, Orgeron avoided fading further into the oblivion of a former hero turned potential outcast.

You cannot help but feel good for Coach O, who gets an A for the preparation and execution of his team Saturday. As he said, his team came to fight on this day, perhaps fighting for the coach and his job.

Now, we wait to see if that fight continues at Oxford against potent Ole Miss next Saturday in what should be another shootout, just like last season.

LSU would gladly accept that type of game if the Tigers can get the same result and see history repeat itself in beating the Gators and Rebels in consecutive weeks.

As bad as things have been at times, LSU blew its game with Auburn. How much different would 5-2 and 3-1 in the SEC look as opposed to 4-3 and 2-2?

For now, we will continue to hear the gravelly voice of “Go Tigers” and it certainly sounded good, not hollow, on Saturday.

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Ken Trahan

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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