LSU went into College Station Saturday night looking to see where they stood against the top teams in the SEC. The Tigers started their first test of top-10 matchups, when they faced the 5th ranked Texas A&M Aggies. They’ll battle top ranked Alabama and 6th ranked Florida coming up, but for for now all the focus was on A&M. LSU soon realized the Aggies were clearly the more talented and experienced team at least for this season.
The Tigers were held scoreless for 59 minutes, but a last second touchdown by Max Johnson broke the drought and the embarrassment of getting shutout. Once thought of as an embarrassment, the LSU defense looked completely different and actually showed the potential we were waiting for all season. A&M was held to 20 points on the night and just 7 in the 2nd half.
Overall, the Tigers likely played their ugliest game of the season, but ended it in a 13 point defeat.
We saw some improvements from the defense. Offensively it became apparent that Myles Brennan may be needed more than ever now. Max Johnson played efficiently at QB, but the A&M defense ate up both true freshman QBs getting three sacks on the night. We’ll look at the Tigers issues and what they’ll need to fix before they take on #1 Alabama next week.
I wasn’t expecting to give accolades to the Tigers defense, but they came to play for all four quarters. Cordale Flott was a ball hawk almost intercepting A&M QB Kellen Mond twice. Mond struggled to throw the ball resulting in just 105 yards passing. The Aggies, like LSU, were just 2 for 16 on 3rd downs.
Kudos to the LSU secondary for not giving up the big play. Last week against Arkansas, while the defense was improving, the big play was still an issue for the LSU DBs.
A&M running back Isaiah Spiller rushed for 141 yards, but it felt like he had over 200 by the way he continually broke tackles in the 1st half. But credit adjustments made by LSU’s defense; they came up huge in the second half allowing just 7 points.
LSU’s MVP this season continues to shine and that’s punter Zach Von Rosenberg. Usually it’s not a good sign when your punter is kicking eleven times, but his 40 yard punt average was enough to flip the field and keep the Aggies from gaining field position.
Von Rosenberg may have won the Ray Guy Award for his punt early in the 1st quarter that easily could have been blocked. His awareness and athletic ability resulted in a 36 yard punt, but could have been a big play resulting in points for A&M.
As a whole, the LSU offense was bad...every aspect. Both true freshman QBs couldn’t get into rhythm with their receivers, resulting in bad passes or overthrows. We saw TJ Finley throw a “pick six” in the 3rd quarter, which put him on the bench for the rest of the night.
The Tigers didn’t have much of a rushing game, only 36 yards total. A&M has one of the best defensive lines in the SEC and they held Ty Davis Price and John Emery in check, each earning less than 20 yards rushing.
The Tigers offensive line got pushed around and that’s never going to help when you have an inexperienced true freshman QB throwing the football. Offensive line play is something LSU hasn’t gotten fixed all year and it’s likely too late in the season especially considering the competition that awaits the Tigers.
If I had to grade LSU’s offense this week, it would be a D- only because they were able to get points and avoid the big zero on the road.
Just when you thought we were finished with the offense, there’s always more to critique. The worst part of the game was 3rd down conversions. This goes for both teams, because both the Tigers and Aggies finished the night 2 for 16.
One way to prolong a game and struggle to keep viewers is endless punting. Both teams combined for 33 punts and 893 total yards. Both offenses didn’t look in sync after the 1st quarter, and the rain definitely made things worse.
The Tigers had multiple chances to snatch the momentum from the Aggies but failed to do so. There was a two play sequence in which Finley threw a touchdown pass to Kayshon Boutte, but the call was reviewed and ruled incomplete. The following play Finley threw an interception killing any momentum.
This is a young Tiger team paying the price each week for a huge learning curve. They’re taking their lumps because of inexperience and questionable coaching. Unfortunately, things will likely get worse before they get better as up next for the Tigers are the two leading teams in the SEC.