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Behind the Box Score: Mississippi St

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LSU dominated the box score, now let’s work on the scoreboard

Mississippi State v LSU
Skipping into the box score
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Before we move on to Auburn Hate Week, we must take one last look back at the Mississippi St. game. Sorry, I know you want to bathe in your hatred of the False Tigers, and I do understand. So, to tide y’all over, please enjoy this stellar play from last weekend’s Auburn game:

Giving it the old college try

There’s nothing quite as beautiful as watching Auburn give up. Remember, kids. Never try.

But, until then, let’s take a look at the numbers which made a difference in the State game.

32:44. LSU won time of possession for the first time all season, a big problem for a team that stresses running the ball and taking care of the football. LSU had over nine minutes of time of possession in three of the four quarters, as the whole team decided to take the third quarter off.

5. Number of MSU punts inside the 20. That’s some amazing directional punting, and it put LSU in a bind for almost all of the second half. Les Miles has long killed teams on those hidden yards, but he got flat dominated in the punt game (and all special teams) on Saturday night. LSU’s starting possession in the second half is nightmarish:

L13
L29
L07
L01
L19

Meanwhile, State was enjoying an averaging starting field position in the second half of their own 40-yard line. Only twice did they start inside their own 30 in the second half, on the opening kickoff (M19) and after Growden’s monster punt on the final drive (M23). Football is a game of field position. LSU flat lost that battle.

2. Leonard Fournette fumbles. Fournette rarely fumbles, and he put two on the ground last night. One was recovered by State, and the other was recovered by a teammate on fourth down, which by rule puts the ball back to the place of the fumble. LSU would turn the ball over on downs. This was the first game Fournette started to look like Galactus, Eater of Worlds, but you cannot fumble the football. If he hangs on to the ball on fourth down, the postgame chatter is entirely different, as LSU likely wins by a score of something like 30-6.

1/14. The Bulldogs only converted one third down all night. They did mitigate this number by going 3/4 on fourth downs, which helped out their comeback attempt, but by and large, the LSU defense slammed the door shut on long drives. This has been the biggest problem so far this year for the defense, and they plugged almost all of the leaks in this game. State couldn’t get a sustained drive going for most of the game.

6. LSU had six sacks on the game, and Arden Key had two. Key now has five sacks on the season, so he is actually on pace for his absurd 20 sack goal. He’s matched his sack total for last year already. Nick Fitzgerald had a miserable night throwing the football, and a big part of that was the defense camped out in his backfield. Even on plays LSU didn’t get pressure, he was clearly rattled by getting hit repeatedly. Put pressure on the quarterback.

4-54. It’s not much, but Malachi Dupre led the team in both receptions and yards. Danny Etling did a great job of distributing the ball to a bunch of targets, but it was nice to see Dupre to get back on the scoreboard, even if it was aided by moving him to the slot to avoid press coverage. He needed the slump buster, and he didn’t have a drop all game.

56. State’s yards rushing on 32 carries. That averages to 1.8 yards/attempt. Even if we take out sacks, the Bulldogs only managed 93 yards on 26 attempts. LSU not only won the yardage battle, but even had more passing yards than State (215-214). LSU won both rushing and passing, which is a huge positive for a team that has struggled throwing the ball.