ä KEVIN MINTER, LSU: If this was Minter’s last game at LSU, and as of this moment we can think of no reason for his not going to the NFL next year, then he finished his collegiate career with a masterpiece. He had 19 tackles, including 12 solos. He dominated the first half of the game with 14 tackles, which was more in one half than Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, a Heisman Trophy finalist, had in any game this season.
ä JEREMY HILL, LSU: Here is the best argument why running back Jeremy Hill deserves more carries and should not have to share time at running back next season: Hill rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Enough said. His 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter looked like something out of an Adrian Peterson highlight film. He deserves to have the training wheels taken off next season.
ä LSU DEFENSE: At first glance, this thumbs-up seems out of place. Clemson outgained LSU 445-219 and had a 32-9 edge in first downs. But the LSU defense was the reason why the game was as close as it was. The defense’s problem was that the offense left it on the field too long, and it eventually wore down like it did in the Florida loss.
ä LSU PLAY-CALLING: Sometimes LSU coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa get a bad rap for conservative play-calling and their inability to coax points out of an inconsisent offense, but they deserve all of the blame for the failures of the LSU offense in the Chick-fil-A bowl. They couldn’t decide if LSU was going to try to run the ball at Clemson. They called for two passes, which were incomplete, when LSU faced a second at 2 at its 47-yard line with less than three minutes remaining. That sequence had “run the ball” written all over it.
ä ZACH METTENBERGER: Playing on a national stage, Mettenberger had a chance to enhance his reputation. Instead, he came up with the kind of inconsistent game that LSU fans have seen from him all season long. He struggled with pocket awareness. He showed a lack of mobility. He couldn’t will his team to victory. If there were any doubts about him trying to go to the NFL, this game showed he needs to stay.
ä LSU intensity: Aside from the strong start, LSU did the unthinkable. It let a hungry
Clemson team, eager to show that it deserved to be considered among the best teams in the country, outplay it down the stretch.