LSU report card: Tigers unravel during Magnolia Bowl
The wheels have officially come off the LSU wagon. The Tigers dropped their third consecutive game, a 38-17 drubbing at the hands of Ole Miss.
The Tigers have gone from College Football Playoff contenders to out of the New Year’s Six conversation entirely during a nasty November. LSU’s three-game skid is its first since 1999, and the report card features LSU’s worst marks of the semester.
LSU’s first six drives tell the tale for the Tigers offense: punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, punt, interception. Meanwhile, Ole Miss rang up 24 consecutive points before the Tigers could muster a crooked number.
Leonard Fournette struggled to get much going against the Land Shark defense, finishing with 108 yards on 25 carries. Quarterback Brandon Harris played arguably his worst game of the season: 26-of-51 for 324 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Plays like this pretty much defined LSU’s evening and led to the offense’s horrible grade.
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) November 22, 2015
LSU’s defense simply isn’t very good. The Tigers were gouged, once again, by Chad Kelly and the Rebels offense. Kelly tossed 280 yards and two touchdowns, and the Rebels ran for 152 yards.
The defense cost LSU when it mattered most. The Tigers climbed back into the game and cut the deficit to 24-17. However, LSU’s defense squelched all momentum and served up a seven-play, 83-yard drive that was capped by this Kelly touchdown run.
Holy Chad Kelly flip…also, there was a definite hold on this pic.twitter.com/j2Cc3nEikF
— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) November 21, 2015
LSU’s defense failed to garner any momentum and was rarely impactful. The Rebels’ 38 points were their most against LSU since 1999, according to The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger. To add the cherry on top, Dellenger said it was the first time since 2008 that LSU had surrendered 30 points in three consecutive contests. The stats don’t tell the entire story, but the Tigers could not handle the high-powered Rebels.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
It’s never good when LSU’s worst group all season ended up being its best Saturday night. Trent Domingue missed his first field goal of the year, and Derrius Guice averaged a mediocre 18.2 yards on five kick returns. The Tigers’ special teams came up with a big play when it recovered a fumble on a second-half kickoff return, but it was ultimately for naught.
It’s hard to defend Les Miles and his staff after that game. In a week in which Miles needed his team to get back on track, the Tigers faltered in sloppy fashion. LSU buried itself into a 24-0 hole, committed 13 penalties that cost it 95 yards and showed its only fight during an actual fight during the second half.
There were a couple of decisions that really buried Miles. The first came early in the game on a fourth-and-3 from the Ole Miss 37-yard line. Miles played the field position battle and elected to punt. Jamie Keehn responded by booting the ball into the end zone for a touchback. Eight plays later, Ole Miss was in the end zone and took a 10-0 lead.
The second decision may have been even worse. LSU trailed 31-17 midway through the third quarter. LSU had stopped Ole Miss on third down, but Miles accepted a holding penalty that pushed the Rebels out of field goal range, but also gave them another play. This is what happened next:
LSU accepts a third down penalty to give Ole Miss another crack and Kelly finds Ingram for the score. 38-17 Rebels pic.twitter.com/P962k4W81u
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) November 21, 2015
There will be plenty of debate over whether that was the right decision, but either way, the Tigers got burned. That play put the Rebels up 38-17 and they never looked back.
There’s not much else to say. LSU has lost three consecutive games for the first time since 1999, which was Gerry DiNardo’s final season. The Tigers went 3-8 that year.