Spoiler alert: LSU lost a pretty damn disappointing game this weekend to Wisconsin. That’s bad. But a bit of good news, most of LSU’s remaining 2016 opponents looked pretty damn ass-tastic as well in their week one games. Don’t believe me just watch.
The Gamecocks blew out North Alabama 31-12 to open the year. Former Auburn running back Roc Thomas scored three touchdowns off of 20 rushes for 73 yards (3.65 yards a carry) but quarterback Eli Jenkins did the brunt of the work. Jenkins went 20-34 for 230 yards ( 11.5 yards per completion) with 102 yards on 13 carries (7.85 yards per carry) and scored one touchdown rushing. Despite not completing a pass for a touchdown, Jenkins spread the wealth pretty well: eight different Gamecocks caught a pass Saturday and six caught two or more. Tyrus Flakes also gashed UNA, going for 75 yards on 12 carries (6.25).
The Bulldogs lost off of a last minute field goal that clanga’d off of the upright, securing a 21-20 final score for the South Alabama Jaguars. Damien Williams was named QB1 in the week leading up to the game and in his debut he went 20-28 for 143 yards (7.15) with one passing touchdown. As good of a day as he had through the air, he was just as effective on the ground going for 101 yards on 12 carries (8.42). The issue for the Bulldogs was that outside of Williams, not much was going right for them. Brandon Holloway and Fred Ross combined for 94 yards, which not a good look for your running backs to have against a group of five team. Mississippi State had five drives that were long enough to end in scoring opportunities and only two of them were touchdowns with two field goals and of course, the missed field goal to end the game.
The Tigers of the Plains variety had the distinct pleasure of opening their season with the team than finished second in the nation and retained that ranking through the offseason, the Clemson Tigers of the Lake variety. They played Clemson pretty well if you look at the score, 19-13. In a weird twist of fate, Kevin Steele’s defense actually kept Auburn in the game against one of the more prolific offenses in the nation, lead by the best quarterback, Deshaun Watson.
However, that 19-13 score was deceptive because outside of the end of the game where they tried to hand it to Auburn, it was never really all that close. Because if you thought LSU’s offense was sad Saturday, well you can commiserate with Auburn fans. While Auburn’s defense held Clemson to 5.1 yards per play (the exact same amount LSU had against Wisconsin), the War Eagles averaged only a lowly 3.7. White Sean went 10-21 over the air for 140 yards and a pick. Jeremy Johnson spelled him and he went four for six for 38 yards, but he also threw a pick. And yes Last Chance U fans, John Franklin made an appearance and completed his only pass, a pass to the flat that lost three yards for Auburn. Kerryon Johnson was virtually the entire Auburn run game, as he put up 99 of Auburn’s 127 total rushing yards on 4.1 yards a carry, scoring Auburn’s lone touchdown of the game.
The Tigers of the North variety played West Virginia to an ugly 26-11 loss, but let’s look at the positives: Mizzou scored a touchdown! With their offense! So sure they put up an elevener, but they put up an elevener without a weird combination of field goals and safeties. That’s progress, Mizzou! Drew Lock threw for 280 yards on 23 completions for an average of 12.17 yards per!
...out of 51 attempts. And the running game was not particularly excited, with Alex Ross leading the charge with a very nice 69 yards on 18 attempts (3.83). Outside of Ross’ niceness, the Tigers managed 124 yards spread across five different players. Production is production no matter if it comes from one player or eight, but against a historically pretty bad West Virginia defense, you typically want to see a little more. West Virginia put up 15 more plays than Missouri, but the Missouri defense still kept the Mountaineers to 4.6 yards per play.
The Gators struggled to put away UMass, but finally pulled away late to a 24-7 final, but it was only 10-7 up until eight minutes to go in the game. Luke Del Rio had a pretty fine day in his first start in orange and blue, going 29-44 with 256 yards (8.83) and two six point plays to his credit. The Gator defense shined as well, limiting the Minutemen to 187 yards of total offense on 52 plays for a lowly 3.7 yards per play.
But the offensive line was an eyesore for Florida and it showed. Florida only put up 117 yards on the ground behind their line against a vastly inferior opponent. And the Gators have no time for quick fixes, they start SEC play against Kentucky next week.
SPEAKING OF KENTUCKY.
After going into halftime against the Wildcats down 35-17, the Golden Eagles rattled off 27 unanswered points to drop Kentucky. This wasn’t even a “tale of two halves” type cliche that the box score would have you believe, Southern Miss just started having more sustained drives against Kentucky in the second half. Southern Miss ran 44 more plays than Kentucky, picking up 32 first downs to the Wildcats’ 14. Kentucky rode explosive plays in the first half (8.4 average yards per play for the entire game) but Southern Miss was by far the more consistent team.
Ito Smith was that dude for the Golden Eagles, rushing for 179 on 36 touches (4.8) and George Day also cracked 100 by a yard with only 16 rushes (6.2). As hard as the Smith and Day one two punch was, quarterback Nick Mullins went in just as hard, throwing 18 complete passes on 28 attempts for 258 yards. However, Mullins actually was the reason why Kentucky was up big in the first place: he had three interceptions thrown and out of those three picks the Wildcats cashed in twice for two touchdowns.
They thought they had Florida State.
They did not.
Ole Miss went to halftime Monday night up 28-13 on Florida State and only put up six point in the second half while the Seminoles dropped 32 in the second act. That is not how you win ball games, Ole Miss.
The Rebears prospered mightily in the first half and then couldn’t do anything right in the second. Kelly went 6-16 after going 15-23 in the first half. Part of it was Florida State pushing the issue and getting good, consistent pressure throughout the second half to pair with a good secondary. And as usually is the case with Hugh Freeze teams, running the ball was never really an option.
Humbled USC 52-6. They sure did look like Alabama.
Mississippi State got got by South Alabama and Arkansas nearly got got by Louisiana Tech. The Razorbacks beat the Bulldogs by the slimmest of margins, 21-20. Tech outgained Arkansas on a yards per play basis (5.4 to 4.3) and had sustained drives, the only difference is that Louisiana Tech had to settle for field goals while Arkansas got touchdowns, and they only made two out of their attempted four.
For as much has been made about Arkansas’ offensive philosophy, they (once again) threw the ball much more successfully than they ran it. Austin Allen, second of his name, was 20-29 for 191 yards (9.55) with two picks to match his two touchdowns. Early on Allen The Younger seems to favor Keon Hatcher, hitting him six times for 86 yards (5.38). The Razorback rush was spearheaded by Rawleigh Williams and his 102 yards on 24 touches (4.25).
Dallas Davis outperformed his SEC counterpart Damien Williams, throwing the rock 34 times and completing it 24 times for 285 yards (11.88). In addition to those yards through the air, Davis carried nine times for 45 yards (5), second behind Tyreis Thomas’ 83 yards on 10 runs (8.30).
A&M survived a furious 15 point fourth quarter comeback from UCLA to beat the Bruins in overtime 31-24.
As far as offensive output goes, both A&M and UCLA were equally matched and both were pretty damn competent. UCLA only ran four more plays and put up 468 yards to A&M’s 442 for a 5.4 to 5.3 advantage in yards per play. Oddly enough, the Aggies had a pretty decent day running the ball, averaging five yards per touch for 209 yards. Traveon Williams put up 94 yards on 15 carries (6.27) and Keith Ford ran the ball 14 times for 70 yards (5). Trevor Knight’s first start in maroon was pretty meh, going 22-42 for 239 yards (10.86) with an interception to match a touchdown pass.