Let’s just get over this, move past it and prepare for bigger things...
1. When I looked at the schedule prior to the beginning of the season, I figured this game to be a loss. Why? Young football teams tend to be schizophrenic, and often fail during their first true test, especially on the road. We have certainly seen inconsistencies in all of our victories leading up to this moment. We’ve seen slow starts, penalties, playing well in spurts, not playing well in spurts. That’ll get you to 6-0 when your schedule has largely been weak (LSU aside, none of our prior opponents have a winning record to date), but won’ t get you to 7-0 when you start slow and never get out of 2nd gear. Yesterday was a perfect storm of facing a pissed off LSU team in a hostile environment. We simply had a systemic failure from coaching to special teams. Oh, and LSU is a good football team who out-coached and out-played us.
What are we going to do about it going forward? That is the only thing I care about now.
1A. We needed those 3-points when Rodrigo Blankenship was asked to try the fake. Points on the road are crucial. I’d love to see Hot Rod try to score on a fake at home against a struggling team - like Auburn or Tech - in the kind of setting where it won’t have the same gravity if it fails. But not in Baton Rouge. Inexperience doesn’t just extend to the players.
LSU saw this fake coming all the way. pic.twitter.com/AfiIqNTVu1— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 13, 2018
Why this play here and now?
2. This was, by far, Jake Fromm’s worst game to date. He was simply off his mark from the start. Missing on a wide-open Mecole Hardman on our very first drive - who was running free and clear down the left sideline - was the type of big play opportunity you simply cannot miss when playing on the road, and the type of throw that Jake typically makes. It was there until it wasn’t. If we make this play, it could’ve opened up a ton of offensive possibilities.
3. Kirby didn’t suddenly become a bad coach. Neither did Sam Pittman nor Mel Tucker. I’d like to believe that Jim Chaney is much better at calling plays, but yesterday clouds that thought. As bad of a job as we did upstairs and downstairs, we still had a chance at the beginning of the 4th quarter to truly make a game of it.
4. Why are we calling for 3-straight pass plays backed up inside our own 5 yard line and not trying to run it out of there? Despite Fromm’s pick on 3rd down (and a great play by LSU’s Kristian Fulton), we hold them to 3 when the game could’ve been clinched there.
5. Despite that gaffe, we get the ball back, drive 75 yards and Elijah Holyfield scores on our best offensive play of the game from the 10. LSU then gets the ball back, has to punt on a quick 3 and out that uses less than a minute of clock, and Mecole Hardman returns the ball to the Tiger’s 38 yard line. Then, we do this:
- 1st and 10 at LSU’s 38 - Hardman jet sweep left for no gain.
- 2nd and 10 from LSU’s 38 - Brien Herrien 4 yard run to LSU’s 34.
- 3rd and 6, from LSU’s 34 - Jake Fromm sacked by JaCoby Stevens -9 yard loss and out of field goal range. Gotta get rid of the ball, Jake. That just can’t happen.
- After a delay of game on 4th down Jake Camarda unleashes a 34 yard punt.
What a disastrous series of calls.
6. There are a few great mysteries in the World that may never be answered: Who built the pyramids? What is Stonehenge? Is there really a Loch Ness Monster? Why did Elijah Holyfield only carry the ball 7 times in a game tailor made for his ever-improving talents? Swift and Holyfield carried combined for 19 carries and a 6.7 yard/per average. That’s good, right? These guys were not utilized properly at all - especially when we had hope early in the 4th quarter.
Elijah Holyfield takes LSU for a ride all the way into the end zone. pic.twitter.com/67ky5tHNMb— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 13, 2018
Holyfield is really doing a great job at anticipating holes, making cuts and bullying people.
7. Jake Camarda has got to do better. He’d better figure out his mechanics because there is something seriously wrong with it. On 6 punts, he averaged 35.5 yards, with a couple of real stinkers.
8. Defensively, we just got whipped in the run game. Not being able to stop the run has been the biggest concern since week 1. The stats don’t lie: 275 yards, 51 attempts, 5.4 ypc.
9. LSU got some favorable spots, but ultimately we could not stop them on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and as it turned out, especially 4th down. Their long drive to put ‘em up 26-9 after we closed within 10 sealed the deal. We just couldn’t get off the field after we finally got something going.
10. I have to wonder why we are so hesitant to at least give Justin Fields a true RPO, or some shotgun snaps where he can either throw it downfield or use his legs to get out of trouble. I refuse to believe that he’s still limited by the knowledge of the playbook at this point. If ever there was a time to take the wraps off the kid, yesterday was it. Anyway, Bill Connelly pretty much nails it. If the media insists we have a QB controversy then so be it. If we don’t have some meaningful packages inserted for Fields that involves the forward pass, then yeah...that’s a problem. Let’s see what the kid can do other than hand the ball off.
Riley Ridley displaying some superb route running.— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) October 13, 2018
You may have heard of his brother, Calvin. pic.twitter.com/tkDYYInJ1H
We really need to throw to this man more. Unfortunately, the “highlights” end here...
11. Defensively, we just aren’t stout enough on the line as we need to be, but our interior linebackers are getting muscled out of position or are just not in position to begin with. There were some flashes of good play. We officially registered 3 sacks, with D’Andre Walker getting to Joe Burrow once, Robert Beal (hello!) once, and Tyler Clark/Keyon Richardson splitting a sack. LSU registered 3 sacks, but it seemed like 9.
12. LSU deserves all the credit in the world. They out-coached us, were the more physical team, and didn’t lose their composure at any point. Kirby preaches discipline, composure and physicality. We had very little of this in any area of the the game, where LSU did.
13. As always, the bye week could not come at a better time. Walker got dinged and there are some guys who are gassed at this point of the season. We are really missing Ben Cleveland’s presence at his usual guard spot and here’s praying he’ll be back in time for The Cocktail Party.
14. In a perfect world, we’d get a rematch with LSU in Atlanta. A lot of good has to happen between now and then to even get there. This team had better grow up in 14 days. I have no doubt we have more talent that Florida, and I still believe we have more talent than LSU. But you have got to play every down in every game with a helluva lot more focus and effort than we did yesterday.
15. Will this team rebound, similar to how we responded after getting drubbed at Auburn last year? It is very difficult to know at the moment. What I do know is there is a Gator waiting for us in 2 weeks that is feeling fairly confident at the moment. They survived against Vandy yesterday and really like to run the ball.
So, now what?
It’s easy to Sunday-Monday morning quarterback and I’m as guilty as the next guy, and if I came across as too negative I’m only being honest on what I saw on this particular Saturday. We simply played a poor game that wasn’t helped by some poor coaching. I believe we’ll learn from this and take care of business in 2 weeks. LSU played with a chip on their shoulder all game long, and I’m of the opinion they’ve passed that chip on to us. Our team has great ability, and is as talented as anyone in America. The sky is not falling. We are still constructing a massive force in the SEC that will inevitably have some hiccups along the way. We simply aren’t there yet, but I’d like to believe we are close. Yesterday was just one of those days. It’s over. Move on. October 27 is the only thing that matters now.
- Auburn is on the road at Ole Miss next week. We are about to really find out how bad it is down on the Plains.
- I’d like to purchase an Iowa State shirt. Once again, they slayed a Big 12 front-runner in whipping West Virginia.
- I watched a good bit of Alabama and Missouri. I see some of the same defensive issues with Bama as I see with us. Bama is a QB injury away from disaster...and that quarterback is dinged.
- Why wasn’t Alabama’s Raekwon Davis ejected and suspended when he punched and kicked a Missouri lineman not once, not twice, but thrice? There’s a real double standard for the Crimson Tide and flagrant personal foul penalties - going back to the Natty. Well, he did apologize so I guess that makes it alright. What say you, Steve Shaw and Greg Sankey? Crickets? Thought so...
That’s all I got and about all I want to write.