By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
#17 LSU was handed their second upset loss of the season by the 0-2 Missouri Tigers, 45-41. After last week's bounce back win, we all hoped that the Tigers' fixed the defensive woes that haunted them in week one. Apparently not. Vanderbilt is and always will be Vanderbilt... All week long I said, "Looks like they have improved some, but don't forget, we played Vanderbilt"... Matter of fact, this one may have been uglier then the season opening loss to Mississippi State.
Saturday's game was suppose to be played in Tiger Stadium under the lights, instead it was relocated to Columbia, MO with a 11am kickoff thanks to Hurricane Delta.
Even though the Tigers couldn't establish a running game, (only managing 49 yards on the ground), they moved the ball well through the air. Myles Brennan and the LSU receivers, lead by Terrace Marshall Jr., made several big plays throughout the day during the seesaw affair. On the final drive of the game, the LSU offense would find themselves 1st and goal at the Mizzu one yard line with 44 seconds remaining. Missouri's defense would stand tall with a game winning goal line stand, keeping LSU out of the end zone on four straight plays from the one.
I don't put this loss on the offense, even though you would hope they could punch it in from the one yard line with four opportunities. But when you score 41 points, put up 479 yards of offense, and win the turnover battle 3-0, along with a turn over on downs and still lose, WHY? Because of very poor defense.
Bo Pelini's defensive scheme is as frightening to watch as a Nightmare on Elm Street movie marathon. For three weeks we have witnessed a LSU defense, loaded with talent, look lost and confused with a secondary that has given up countless big plays due to break downs in coverage. Not to mention the poor tackling and lack of aggression from the defensive front.
Missouri's running backs found gaping holes to run through, totaling 180 rushing yards on the day.
Redshirt freshman quarterback, Connor Bazelak picked the LSU secondary apart going 29-34, 406 yards passing, with four touchdown passes. The Tigers are now 1-2 for the first time since 1994.
Below is the game break down.....
Missouri would receive the opening kickoff and waste little time drawing first blood going 75 yards in only four plays capped off by a 58 yard touchdown pass from Connor Bazelak to Tauskie Dove on a flea flicker play that the Tigers' secondary bit on. Harrison Mevis would convert the PAT putting the Mizzu Tigers up 7-0.
The LSU offense would respond with a very nice 10 play, 75 yard scoring drive, as Myles Brennan would hit Terrace Marshall in the back corner of the end zone for a 6 yard touchdown. The key play of the drive came when Brennan would hit Arik Gilbert for a 17 yard gain on 4th and five from the Mizzu 38 yard line. Cade York would add the point after to tie things up at 7-7 with 8:03 left in the 1st quarter.
Missouri could only manage seven yard in three plays on their next possession. With it 4th and three at their own 47 yard line, Mizzu would keep their offense on the field, causing the Tigers to quickly called a timeout. As both teams lined back up Mizzu would send out their punt team. On the snap, the Tigers would try to run a fake as punter Grant McKinnis would throw an incomplete pass, turning the ball over on downs to the Bayou Bengals.
LSU quickly took advantage of the turnover as Myles Brennan would once again find Marshall in the end zone, this time from two yards out. The Tigers would go 47 yards in only five plays on the drive, leaving 3:45 to go on the game clock, increasing their lead to 14-7.
Bazelak would begin to have his way with the LSU secondary as he would dink and dunk the Mizzu offense down the field. The Tigers would answer LSU's score and pull even 14-14, when running back Tyler Badie would find a huge hole, then break a couple of tackles on his way to a 29 yard touchdown run. The scoring drive went for 75 yards in nine plays, eating 3:23 off the clock. LSU would take over their next possession with 22 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, sending us to the 2nd with the score 14-14.
LSU would take their next possession into the 2nd quarter but would go three-and-out. Zach Van Rosenberg would punt the ball away. As Kris Abrames-Draine fielded the punt for Mizzu, Racey McMath raced down, reached out, and pulled the ball loose. Quentin Skinner would recover the ball for the Bayou Bengals at the Mizzu 25 yard line. On 1st and 10 from the 25, Brennan would drop back to throw and find Arik Gilbert in the end zone for the score. York's kick would make it a 21-14 LSU lead early in the 2nd quarter.
The LSU defense would make one of their few big plays during the game on Missouri's next possession. On 3rd and 6 from the Mizzu 42 yard line, Bazelak would drop back to throw. BJ Ojulari would sack him, causing a fumble that Alie Gaye would recover at the Tigers' 31 yard line. However, the Bayou Bengals would sputter and settle for a 42 yard Cade York field goal extending the LSU lead to 24-14. At this point, it seemed that LSU had starting to take control of the game.
Missouri would refuse to crumble to the LSU lead and momentum shift. They would answer, going 75 yards in nine plays, highlighted by a huge 26 yard completion from Bazelak to wide open Jalen Knox. The Mizzu score would come on an end around trick play, with Knox taking it into the end zone from 16 yards out. Once again, the LSU defense missed tackles on a scoring play. The LSU lead was cut to 24-21 with 7:33 to go in the first half.
LSU struggle going three-and-out, punting the ball back to the Mizzu Tigers. The Missouri offense would continue to mix up their plays well, keeping the LSU defense guessing and playing back on their heels. LSU would finally stop the Tigers' drive at the 31 yard line, setting up a 52 yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 24. Harrison Mevis would push the ball through the uprights doing so with 1:56 left in the half.
LSU would go three-and-out, followed by Mizzu taking a knee to run out the game clock. Both teams would head into their locker room at halftime with the score knotted up at 24-24...
After only rushing for 1 total yard in the first half, LSU would come out trying to establish their running game. Ty Davis-Price would start the half with a nice 24 yard burst down to the LSU 49 yard line. But the Missouri defense would stop the drive there, setting up a LSU punt. Von Rosenberg would place a beautiful punt out of bounds at the Mizzu two yard line. On the next play, Todd Harris would cause a fumble that Jabril Cox would recover at the Tigers' five yard line, setting up an easy 1 yard touchdown run by Davis-Price. The score would put LSU up 31-24 with 12:25 left in the quarter.
On the next possession, Bazelak would continue to take full advantage of the mistakes made by the LSU secondary. Mizzu would begin at their own 25 yard line and easily work their way down to the LSU 41. On 2nd and one from the 41 yard line, the entire LSU secondary bit on the play action pass, allowing Micah Wilson to run free, wide open down the middle of the field. Bazelak would find him easily for a 41 yard touchdown pass. When Wilson caught the ball, the nearest LSU defender was 15 plus yards behind him. The scoring drive would take only four plays, covering 75 yards, in 1:39.
The seesaw battle would continue as LSU would start their next drive, 1st and 10 at the 25 after the Mizzu kickoff would go through the end zone. Brennan would drop back and throw deep down the middle of the field hitting Terrace Marshall in stride for a 75 yard touchdown. 38-31, LSU with 8:48 left in the quarter.
Both teams would exchange punts setting up Mizzu 1st and 10 from their own 17 yard line. From there Bazelak would again begin to find receivers running free through the LSU secondary as they would go 83 yards easily in seven plays, scoring on a 21 yard pass from Bazelak to Tyler Badie.
With the score tied at 38-38 with 2:36 left in the 3rd quarter, Brennan would drive LSU 42 yards in seven plays, to the Mizzu 19. A holding penalty would stall the drive and Cade York would kick a 51 yard field goal to once again give LSU the lead, 41-38 on the last play of the 3rd quarter. The highlight of the drive came on a nice 44 yard completion from Brennan to Terrace Marshall from the LSU 30 down to the Mizzu 26 yard line.
Missouri would begin the 4th quarter starting their drive at the 25 after a touchback. After two nice completions by Bazelak, running back Larry Roundtree would break off a 29 yard run down to the LSU 34 yard line after more missed tackles. A holding penalty would help assist the LSU defense with a much needed stop, forcing Missouri to attempt a 56 yard field goal. Harrison Mevis would miss the kick setting LSU up with great starting field position at their 39 yard line.
Myles Brennan would start the drive with a couple of nice first down completions to Kayshon Boutte. He would then hit Marshall for 11 yards down to the Mizzu 22 yard line. On the next play Brennan would hit Tory Carter in the hands in the end zone, but Carter would be unable to hang on dropping the pass. After a three yard sack and a delay of the game penalty, York would attempt a 45 yard field goal. The Tigers would come away empty handed as Missouri would block the kick keeping the score at 41-38 with 7:04 to go in the ball game.
Missouri would have it 2nd and 12 at their 21 yard line. Connor Bazelak would drop back to throw and find a wide open Chance Luper for a 69 yard completion down to the LSU 10 yard line. The LSU secondary would have another break down causing Luper to find himself all alone for Bazelak to easily find. Two plays later Bazelak would hit Neko Hea in the end zone from five yards out to give Missouri the lead, 45-41 with only 5:18 left in the contest.
Myles Brennan and the LSU offense would begin a beautiful drive starting from their own 25 yard line. The Tigers would go 74 yards in 8 plays finding themselves 1st and goal at the Mizzu one yard line with 44 seconds left. On first and second down, LSU would try to punch the ball in with Ty Davis-Price out of the shotgun. Both times, Davis-Price was stuffed for no gain by the Missouri defense. On 3rd down, still in the spread, Brennan attempted a swing pass to Marshall out of the backfield, but Nick Bolton would come across the line, reach up and slap the ball away setting up 4th and goal from the one with 22 seconds left. 4th down, Brennan would roll to his right a try to hit Marshall on a out route, but Mizzu defender, Josh Bledsoe would make a great play, diving and batting the ball away to save the 45-41 win for his team.
The LSU offense, while not perfect is getting the job done, scoring 27, 41, and 41 points respectfully in the first three weeks.
Myles Brennan has shown improvement in each game. At times against Missouri he
showed flashes of a Joe Burrow moment as he would buy time and make a great throw down field. He finished 29-48, 430 yards passing, and four touchdowns. No doubt Brennan has a very bright future ahead.
The running game was a huge disappointment on Saturday. John Emery only had two carries for seven yards after having a great game in Nashville last week surpassing 100 yards. Chris Curry started the game, but quickly disappeared after only managing 6 yards on 5 carries. Ty Davis-Price ended up leading the team in rushing with 38 yards on 9 carries and a touchdown.
The receivers continue to improve and play at a high level. Terrace Marshall finished with 11
catches, 235 yards, and 3 touchdown grabs. Arik Gilbert had a solid game catching 6 passes for 97 yards, and a nice touchdown catch. Overall eight different receivers had catches in the ball game. The two big knocks on this offense after three games is their lack of a productive running attack
and their 3rd down conversions. They were 0-10 on 3rd down against Mizzu and are now 9-39 on the season for only 23%.
It's obvious that whatever Bo Pelini is trying to do isn't working. The defense gave up 45 points and 596 total yards to Missouri, (180 rushing / 406 passing). The break downs in the secondary, all the missed tackles, all the confusion, it's all inexcusable.
This defense is very talented but very poorly coached. It brings back nightmarish memories
of dark defenses from LSU's past when things were at its worse. Nightmares of Phil Bennett's defense under Curley Hallman in 1994 and painful visions of Lou Tepper's defense that was a total disaster in 1998 and 1999 under Gerry DiNardo.
What upsets me and I'm sure most of you fans out there is the way Coach O seemed to defend Pelini after Saturday's game. At this point, in my opinion, a little more anger and urgency needs to be shown by a head coach. Orgeron was quoted saying after the game, "I love Bo. I think he is going to be a great defensive coordinator. He's done it before. But we've got to get better." ... Instead I would like to hear this type of response from Coach O in a all-business tone .... "I like Bo, But right now he's doing a very poor job with our defense. If improvements aren't made very soon, we will need to go in a different direction." ....
Meanwhile even with all the confusion, the players on defense are playing hard and deserve so much better from their coaches. Please Coach O, please fix this defense. It's not too late, but time is running out. and running out fast with the toughest part of the 2020 schedule on top of us. This team was expected to be 3-0 at this point despite the craziness of dealing with the COVID-19 situation.
Next up for the (1-2) Tigers is a trip to the Swamp to take on the (2-1) Florida Gators next Saturday. The game will be televised on CBS with a 2:30pm CST kickoff. Florida was upset this weekend, as they lost to Texas A&M in College Station, 41-38.
Photos By: LSU/SEC