|Stephon Francois does just enough on final play of game|
to win it for LSU. (Photo by: Erik S. Lesser/AP Photo)
LSU was controlling the pace of the game. Everything was going right for Les Miles because LSU was playing better in areas they were weak last season.
The defense forced turnovers, offense generated explosive plays down the field and special teams found a return man that will replace Trindon Holliday in Patrick Peterson.
But the most interesting unit of the night must go to the defense. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis was dialing up a masterpiece of plays against the Tar Heels.
All turnovers by the Tar Heels were a result of "The Cheif" mixing up his sets before the play even began. LSU played their base 4-3 package early, but mixed it up as the game moved along to more Nickel and Dime packages.
It did help the defensive line showed an immense amount of versatility. Pep Levingston and Michael Brockers seemed to make the transition to a 3-technique defensive tackle really well. Drake Nevis showed why single teaming him is not a bright idea and Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery played the running game better than I thought they would.
LSU's best defensive set on the night had to have been the innovative 3-2-6 formation.
I remember the Bayou Benglas playing this formation against Alabama last year in the first quarter. The defense was effective then and it still is effective now.
It caused major confusion. Pre-snap reads had to be changed by UNC quarterback T.J. Yates multiple times, causing him to make bad mistakes.
The biggest surprise of the night was the amount of freshmen used in the secondary.
Going into the game, most everyone knew the defensive line and linebackers were going to have a high number of freshman playing. But the defensive backfield looked really suspect tonight.
Part of the reason was because of them just being young.
True freshman Tyrann Matheiu played the Nickel back position at a high level tonight, but was exposed immediately when he played his first play at cornerback in the base formation.
He stepped in quick to make, what should have been, the last defensive play in the ball for the Tigers.
But I didn't like how the coaches played almost everyone in the secondary. Brandon Taylor, Jai Eugene, Derrick Bryant, Eric Reid, Craig Loston and Tharold Simon all played snaps at that position. LSU was winning comfortably, and it could have been that Chavis was testing to see who exactly is the best lineup for down the road.
LSU can't allow any quarterback to light them up for 274 yards in the second half, much less a guy who threw for 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season.
I will give this unit a B+ for the effort. They started off white hot and slacked off in the second half.
ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said it best this morning ESPN College Gameday. LSU, last year, was the best team in red zone defense while UNC was towards the bottom in the nation. It proved to be the difference tonight, despite the Tigers letting the Tar Heels back into the contest.
But hey, if they didn't slack, they wouldn't be the LSU Tigers.
And some people wonder why big-name networks love to broadcast their games. It's going to be close, Bayou Bengals are from all over the place and it easy to get fan footage because they will do anything to get on a camera.
LSU needs to learn how to close out games, because next time they might not be so lucky.