STARKVILLE, Miss. — One game doesn’t make a season. But if LSU plays one more game like it did Saturday versus Mississippi State, it’s season might well be broken.
Nothing went right for LSU in its 37-7 loss to Mississippi State Saturday night in Starkville. Nothing. The offense couldn’t string together a drive. The defense couldn’t get off the field. Mississippi State trucked through LSU the way LSU trucked through BYU and Chattanooga. Every time it looked as if the Tigers were ready to put something together, things fell apart.
Third down penalties prolonged Mississippi State drives. Dropped passes turned LSU drives into 3-and-outs. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and running back Aeris Williams carved through LSU’s defense for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns, while LSU running back Derrius Guice was held under 100 yards and without a touchdown for the first time this season.
Saturday was the first time LSU lost in Starkville since 1999, and only the Tigers’ second loss against Mississippi State since the turn of the millennium. 37 is the most points Mississippi State has ever scored against the Tigers in Starkville and 7 is the fewest amount of points LSU has scored in Starkville since 1923.
Here’s a stock report of LSU’s dismal performance.
LSU stock up:
Josh Growden: LSU punted a lot Saturday. A lot. And to his credit, punter Josh Growden did a good job. He amassed 286 yards on seven punts for an average of 40.9 yards a pop. Two of his punts went longer than 50 yards and one was downed inside the 20. That’s not much of a solace, but it’s a solace nonetheless.
Christian LaCouture: LSU’s defensive line was barren Saturday. Defensive end Rashard Lawrence missed the game with an injury. Nose tackle Ed Alexander got hurt in the first half. Defensive end Neil Farrell got ejected for targeting in the second half. It was ugly. But senior DE Christian LaCouture led the team with 11 tackles and a QB hurry. So there was that.
LSU stock down:
Matt Canada, offensive genius: LSU’s offense was anemic Saturday. Quarterback Danny Etling only completed five passes through three quarters and finished the game with 137 passing yards. Sure, the Tigers rushed for better than 4.5 yards per carry. But 65 of LSU’s 133 rushing yards came on the Tigers’ one touchdown drive. After that drive? LSU amassed 23 total yards on its next five drives, going down 37-7 in the process. For as much hype as new LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada received in the offseason and against BYU and Chattanooga, he was out-schemed by Todd Grantham’s Mississippi State defense in every way.
Ed Orgeron, disciplinarian: LSU was supposed to fix the penalties. 10 flags in the first half versus Chattanooga was unacceptable. 21 in two games was unfathomable. So how’d Orgeron’s crew follow that up versus Mississippi State? Nine penalties, 112 yards, two ejections and two touchdowns called back. This isn’t a young player problem or an inexperience problem. Senior Donnie Alexander was ejected for targeting just like freshman Neil Farrell was. It’s a team problem. This team is committing an unacceptable amount of penalties. And unless Orgeron finds a way to reign this in, this problem doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away any time soon.
The trenches: Mississippi State’s offensive and defensive lines bullied LSU’s all night. At no point did Canada’s or defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s fronts control the point of attack. Mississippi State controlled LSU’s weakened defensive front all night, paving the way for Fitzgerald and Williams to run crazy. And the defensive line crushed Etling and Co. to the tune of two sacks, four tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries. It’s said that big men win football game. Mississippi State’s did just that.