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Behind the Box Score: Syracuse

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An ugly win still counts as a win

If you squint real hard, you can see Jennings
If you squint real hard, you can see Jennings
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Get in, get out with a win. That's always the plan with an early kickoff, the dreaded timeslot for any college football team. It's a recipe for lethargy, particularly when you throw in a bunch of miles in travel. It would have been nice to assert our presence with authority, but a sluggish, sloppy double-digit win was a fairly likely outcome. This is not the darkest timeline, but it is probably a dimmer one. Let's see how this team got there:

3 for 10. No stat sums up, other than the penalty total, how choppy of a game the LSU offense had. Despite racking up 425 yards on an average of 7.3 yards/play, the offense did not impress much. Part of that was that LSU kept getting itself into third and long, then failing. 3 of 10 on 3rd down is not going to cut it against a team more even with talent. Drives kept stalling out, usually due to those long 3rd downs. Harris played decently, but he's still not at 3rd and Mettenberger levels. Speaking of Harris...

50%. Harris completed exactly 50% of his passes. If you remember, Jennings had an eerie ability to finish games with an exact 50% completion percentage (he did it five times last season). This was a very Jennings-like stat line: 50% completion percentage, right around 15 pass attempts (16), close to 150 yards of passing (157), no picks, and one long pass play helping out the numbers (51-yard long). Statistically, this was Harris' worst game by a wide margin. It didn't feel like it while watching the game, as he seemed in control of the game, but the numbers don't lie. This is the absolute basement of production that Harris can provide in a game. Yes, the receivers dropped a bunch of passes. That's still not a good stat line.

4 for 6. Syracuse went 5 for 16 on third down conversions over the entire game, but they went 4/6 in the fourth quarter, plus 1/1 on fourth downs. Again, fourth quarter defense is a huge issue with this team. It could be a lack of depth or it could be a lack of effort, as it is hard to play with much intensity when you are up by two scores and they are warming up the bus. The defense's fourth quarter effort just screamed "get on the bus and go home." That's the third straight game the defense has decided to take the fourth quarter off. Intensity, intensity, intensity.

10-84. The gap in penalties and yards between the teams. LSU was flagged 14 times for 120 yards. 10 for 84 would be a bad day for penalties, but for that to be the gap in penalties is just unheard of. That's 1980's Miami levels of penalties and this just in, this team is not 1980's Miami. Some of it is the scourge to officiating that is Tom Ritter, but this is primarily on LSU, and speaks to the team's lack of intensity. I don't want to say this team lacked effort, but they did lack focus. Stupid mistakes cost Fournette a record-breaking day.

26. Yes, Fournette had another amazing day, dropping 244 yards on 26 carries with another 100 yards or so erased by penalty. However, the other three running backs combined for 26 yards on 7 carries. That's not good. Guice, in particular, had a miserable game, continually missing holes and only gaining 13 yards on 4 carries. The other backs need to pull their weight.

29:52. LSU lost the time of possession battle by 16 seconds. Still, it's not often that LSU is going to lose that stat to anyone, and it speaks to Syracuse's game plan. LSU has a power run game in a ball-control offense, yet Syracuse was able to have the ball longer than LSU. They also ran 11 more plays (69-58), which is to be expected. For most teams, this stat doesn't matter much, to LSU, it is the offense's lifeblood.

0. Number of LSU turnovers. Three games into the year, and LSU is yet to turn the ball over. LSU did fumble once in the game, but recovered. This is a key stat for future success: take care of the football. So far, so good.