And so ends the 2014 season. Not with a bang, but a whimper. It's hard to imagine LSU playing worse, but then again, Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams had terrific games. They are exempt from any criticism. Everyone else? Blech.
The game was played amidst rumors that John Chavis had already accepted the Texas A&M job, and boy did he coach that way, and his defense responded in kind. Early in the game, Zaire scrambled on fourth and long for a first down with three LSU defenders in pursuit. Kwon literally pulled up and never fully committed to the play. That was a sign of things to come. It was lazy, half-assed effort. Notre Dame wanted it more, and it showed. The Irish scratched and clawed for every yard and LSU sort of indifferently stood around and waited for 60 minutes to run off the clock so the season would end they could go home.
LSU, a team that has thrived on ball possession all season, lost the time of possession battle 37:00 to 23:00. That's with LSU throwing all of 14 passes on the game, and the team still couldn't keep the offense on the field.
Part of that is because the defense couldn't get off of it. LSU let up 11 of 17 3rd down conversions, and didn't force a punt until the second half. LSU had one of the best third down defenses all season, and suddenly they couldn't get a stop in crunch time. LSU also allowed 1 of 2 fourth down conversions. It was all about effort.
LSU allowed 449 yards of offense, totals not seen since the Auburn game. A defense that had turned a corner turned right back around again and ended up where it started. The first four Notre Dame drives of the game all went for over 50 yards, and three lasted over 10 plays. The defense turned up the intensity in the second half, only to repeat a common refrain from this year: having a terrible final drive. LSU close the game allowing a 14-play, 71-yard drive that ate the final 5:41 of clock. Good thing LSU punted on 4th and 1 from near midfield.
Anthony Jennings showed the complete and utter lack of progress he has displayed all season. He's inventing new ways to play terribly at this point. He used to just make bad throws, but now he's added terrible decision making to his repertoire. On 1st and goal with two timeouts and 30 seconds left in the first half, LSU called a pass play. He failed to throw the ball away under pressure, forcing LSU to burn a timeout and virtually insuring Miles couldn't call two run plays, the team's strength. It was an absolutely abominable decision of clock management. If you're going to make lousy throws, at least make good decisions.
Jennings finished the day with yet another 50% passing day (7 for 14), his fifth game with exactly 50% completion percentage, which has to be a bizarro record. He has been so awful that throwing for 50% actually improved his season completion percentage.
Outside of guys who only took one or two starts, Jennings is now the clubhouse leader for worst starting quarterback of my lifetime, maybe ever. He's not Melvin Hill, but Hill only was allowed to have one game reign of terror. Jennings now has 13 career starts, and he's not only shown no signs of improvement, he's actively regressing. He's a good kid, and I like him. He says all of the right things, and his teammates appear to love and respect him. He works hard and does the right things. So I take no joy in this, but he is a flat out terrible quarterback and it's time to move on.
LSU's offense in this game was essentially a few big plays, and of course Fournette. LSU had three touchdown plays of over 75 yards. Outside of the big plays, LSU's offense rarely looked in sync, though the offense had two good drives in the second half that ended in a turnover and a missed field goal, respectively.
LSU had no business losing this game, but lost due to cruddy effort and continued miserable QB play (a botched no call on a touchdown by the refs didn't help). This is the last LSU football game for a long time, and it left a God awful taste in my mouth.