December 3, 2022

Struggles On Later Downs, Poor Special Teams Execution, and Other Takeaways That Plagued LSU In Its 40-13 Loss To Tennessee

It was a day to forget for the LSU Tigers in its 40-13 loss to Tennessee. There was not a lot that went right in the game from the opening kickoff to the final whistle as the number eight ranked Volunteers went on the road and had its traveling fans the only ones celebrating in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers fell to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. It was also the worse home loss of Brian Kelly’s FBS coaching career, but the Tigers have an opportunity to bounce back this Saturday on the road against Florida. Before focusing on the Gators’ matchup later this week, here are some of the problems that were frequently shown throughout the season that came back to bite the Tigers at home this past Saturday.

1. LSU’s Offense Stalls In Crucial Situations:

The key stat that made the difference in the lopsided loss was that Tennessee was 3 for 3 in fourth down conversions while LSU was 0 for 3 on the money down. Overall, LSU was decent on third downs converting seven of 16 attempts, but missed opportunities throughout the football game. Before halftime, Jayden Daniels did not connect with Jaray Jenkins on what looked like could be a big play. LSU also was just inches short of converting its first fourth down attempt as Kayshon Boutte tried to reach the ball across the first down mark, but was marked short leaving a potential three points off the board. Then, finally, at the end of the game, Daniels threw his first interception of the season as the Tigers looked to try to make the score more respectable towards the end of the game. All in all, LSU did show the ability to move the ball down the field at times as Jayden Daniels did show some more confidence in throwing the ball in tighter windows, but when it came to executing in later downs and in the red zone, that was when the offense just could not get over the hump in putting up more points.

LSU moved the football between the 20’s, but failed to move the chains when it mattered most. (Photo taken by Geralyn Thomassee)

2. Poor Special Teams Execution Continues To Be A Problem:

As it has been all season long, a different problem arises for the special teams unit. On Saturday, the problem came up right at the opening kickoff as the usually dependable Jack Bech muffs the kickoff and Tennessee recovers right at the start of the football game. That turnover quickly resulted in seven points and after going three and out, Jay Bramblett punts the football back to Tennessee where their returner had a big runback in which he was actually tackled by Bramblett to save six points. LSU’s defense would hold to only three points, but it was its special teams that put the Tigers in a big hole.

LSU’s special teams put the Tigers in an early 10-0 hole after two mistakes. (Photo taken by Geralyn Thomassee)

3. LSU Puts Themselves In Another Big Hole:

In speaking of big holes, the lead was added even more for Tennessee after scoring ten early points in the football game taking advantage of LSU’s poor special teams play. Still, both LSU’s offense and defense did not have great starts either. As mentioned earlier, LSU’s offense turned the ball over on downs in three different situations in the first half and on the first drive, Daniels and Boutte would not connect on the first third down of the opening drive. The defense had chances to get off the field in the later downs too, but Tennessee’s offense continued to extend drives in order to extend its lead throughout the game. Before LSU finally found the end zone, the Tigers would look up early in the football game being down 20-0. The Tigers were fortunate to overcome huge deficits against Auburn and Mississippi State, but against a team that is as hot as Tennessee is right now, they could not afford to be trailing by multiple scores early and unfortunately for the Tigers, that was the case.

LSU found itself in a 20-0 hole early in the football game against Tennessee. (Photo taken by Geralyn Thomassee)

4. Offensive Line Struggles In Pass Protection:

The LSU offensive line suffered a big hit the day before the game with Will Campbell having to be rushed to the hospital after collapsing due to dehydration in a Friday walk-through. Then, the front five got some more bad news when Garrett Dellinger left with a knee injury during the football game. LSU has been shuffling its offensive line throughout the early part of the season and the unfortunate part about the recent injuries was that the coaching staff was finally settling in on the offensive line combination. With backups in the football game, Tennessee’s defense was smelling blood and went after Jayden Daniels sacking him five times in the football game. Also, with the Tigers trailing the entire game, it forced the offense to abandon the run as the offense only had 55 yards on the ground. Now, all the sacks were not just on the offensive line, but some were on the quarterback as well with Daniels sometimes holding the football too long. After a rough game for the offensive line, the good news is that Will Campbell will return to start in the Florida game.

The Tennessee defensive line sacked Jayden Daniels five times in the backfield. (Photo taken by Geralyn Thomassee)

5. Defense Gets Gashed In The Running Game:

After being put in bad positions early in the football game based on the special teams blunders and the failed fourth down tries, it was not the defense’s fault that the team was down 20 points, but the defense did wear down as the game went on. The Volunteers had plenty of success on the ground running the football as the offense had 264 yards rushing and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. LSU’s defense was hanging on for dear life in the first half, but by the time the second half kicked off, it was too much for the unit to handle in playing one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

LSU’s defense struggled to stop the Tennessee running game allowing 264 yards on the ground. (Photo taken by Geralyn Thomassee)




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