Where do I begin? That wasn’t very fun, both teams played ugly football, the abominable LSU offensive line moved ahead of the entire defense in the race for worst unit on the team, the quarterbacks played poorly, it was all bad. The defense didn’t do anything complicated, but they weren’t forced to. They did a great job in coverage, particularly Derek Stingley and Jabril Cox, who had terrific games, while Kellen Mond was woefully inaccurate all night.
Objectively, this was a pretty boring, uneventful football game with some bipartisan dreadful offense. It started with a three and out for Texas A&M, which LSU answered with a six-play turnover on downs on a Tyrion Davis-Price run that came up short. Texas A&M then busted off a couple of solid runs and stalled out, settling for a 41-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. LSU answered with a weak three and out.
The teams then traded two pairs of punts for a streak of four overall. The streak of mediocrity was broken by a long Isaiah Spiller TD run to put A&M up 10-0. After another LSU punt the Aggies drove a little bit, but fumbled it over on a fourth and one quarterback sneak. TJ Finley hit Terrace Marshall, who busted it for a 54-yard gain to get into striking distance, but a bad incomplete call on a touchdown to Kayshon Boutte gave TJ Finley the chance to throw an interception that handed the ball back to A&M.
Still 10 zip. A&M then went three and out and gave LSU the ball with good field position. LSU picked up a couple first downs and stalled out, missing a chip shot field goal attempt. The teams then punted back and forth until the end of the half. The second half started with an LSU punt, an A&M punt, and another LSU punt. LSU then forced another Texas A&M punt, but muffed it and handed it to A&M, who proceeded to punt. LSU took possession and threw an ugly pick six, putting them down 20-0. The teams then traded punt after punt after punt until LSU scored a useless touchdown with change remaining on the clock. 20-7 final.
Obviously that was a disaster, but the defense performed at an objectively high level. Sure they just played straight man to man the whole time, sure they got help from a horrendously inaccurate Kellen Mond, but they did great.
Jabril Cox played his best game as an LSU Tiger and just an absurd game overall. He was excellent in coverage against stud, NFL destined TE Jalen Wydermeyer, and he was asked to carry him all over the field, a feat not usually asked of linebackers.
All over the yard
The offense was just that, offensive. Horrendous all around except for Terrace Marshall.
Finley’s first interception was a combination of great scheme and inaccuracy. Texas A&M called simulated pressures bringing inside DBs the whole night, and it killed LSU. Here, they rotate the safety down to replace the blitzer and account for his vacated area. This works really well against this particular RPO and several of the quick concepts Steve Ensminger has had to use with Finley. Normally, the solution would be to check the protection and just have the back account for the guy but as it’s an RPO, there is no protection. Finley is forced to get rid of the ball a tick earlier than he’d like, but this ball needs to be more accurate, and it could have been out quicker. Finley’s accuracy has been inconsistent all year, horrible past 20 yards, and horrible the other night all over.
Here is a similar pressure and a similar result. They bring the same position but replace him from a different spot. The placement here by Finley is just awful, he didn’t even get hit after (not an excuse, you are expected to be accurate unless you are actually hit during the delivery). His delivery was not altered and the pocket was clean enough.
That said, the blitz spooked him and forced him to rush his process and panic a little. Finley would maybe say that he thought Gilbert was gonna sit there, as it was an option in the option route, but that wasn’t the read; Gilbert was right. It’s a great call against this option/dig concept that LSU calls so much with Finley—a good call for him—as he just reads the hook defender (the recovering linebacker in this case) and throws off that read in rhythm. They had the safety drop into the dig window in this coverage, another great call by Elko. As for the protection, this sim is nasty against anything but a full slide or 4×1 half slide. The left tackle has a guy head up on him so he has to account for that, as do Liam Shanahan and Ed Ingram. The guy Shanahan is head up on drops to replace the blitzer, so all three would either have to pass their guys off and move to the left in the heat of the moment to account for it all (without a back in to clean up the free rusher) or Shanahan has to go meet him (a brutal ask). That’s what happens.
Here LSU calls their 3 vert X under concept they used to great effect at times last season. Chasen Hines looks to be tasked with a dual read with them showing a 5-0 front. Hines’ first priority is the inside-most guy, the one with the most direct line to the quarterback. If he drops, go take the other guy. The first guy drops into coverage and he just doesn’t get there quick enough. The read has to be a little quicker and his feet have to be much quicker. A brutal, brutal game all around for Hines, who has had a really tough year. Great quaterbacks make this throw anyway though, and he could have gotten it out a hair earlier. An incredibly tough throw, but one I’d love to see made in a perfect world. I’m not upset about it though. If he had a bit more time, he’d have been able to work through the progression to Jaray Jenkins who had some space.
Stuff like this, and above, and below, were the story of the whole game for this offense, as they found themselves in obvious passing situations quite frequently. I’d have preferred they throw much more on early downs but even when they tried that, they didn’t have much success. The personnel limitations at quarterback and offensive line, and the subsequent schematic handcuffing really caught up to them as it did against Auburn.
A&M lines up overloaded to the field here, so they check into a full slide to that side. He tells Ty Davis-Price to block the backside end. Given how they’ve called sim pressures involving nickel corners the whole night, this is a brutal check by Finley or the sideline. I think it may have been Finley because he didn’t really look to the sideline but I’m not sure he has anywhere near the autonomy to make his own protection checks. You end up with a bluff to the field and two on one for the defense to the backside. This was Tywin Lannister’s strategy at the Green Fork but in the universe where it worked.
Everyone is accounted for in the protection, this isn’t an exotic pressure or anything (thank you standard downs), but Dare Rosenthal just gets beat. Finley does a really good job getting off the frontside of this concept but he’s just gotta eat the sack here. This really is a freshman type mistake, while some of the major accuracy issues kinda aren’t. Great scheme by Elko on the coverage as well.
Team’s very bad, the monolith disappeared, end of days.