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Behind the Box Score: Mississippi State

The final autopsy of a brutal killing

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Mississippi State
Yeah, he didn’t make the catch
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Reviewing the box score of a game like last weekend’s is like returning to the scene of the crime. There’s blood everywhere, and none of the visuals are pretty. LSU got murdered, and the box score is a dispassionate accounting of the damage.

And oh my God, was there damage. Heck, before we deep dive, let’s look at the margins in some of the top line stats between the two teams:

25-13. State’s edge in 1st downs.

285-133. State’s edge in rushing yards

180-137. State’s edge in passing yards.

6.5-4.7. State’s edge in yards per play.

465-270. State’s total edge in total yards. That’s an ass kicking in every phase of the game. The most concerning line, other than LSU getting doubled up in first downs, is that rushing yards line. LSU prides itself on the ability to run the ball and stop the run, and they could do neither on Saturday. The worst thing is that LSU did manage to put together an impressive drive in the first half, almost entirely by running the ball, and then lost the ability to run the ball, or do much of anything after that.

8-65. There’s the drive right there. LSU’s first drive of the second quarter went 65 yards on 8 plays, all runs. Thanks to a holding penalty, LSU gained 75 yards rushing on that drive. Over half of LSU’s rushing yards in the game took place on this drive. This was a four minute stretch in which LSU had a functional offense, and during it, the quarterback’s sole job was to hand the ball off.

11. Devin White had 11 tackles and 1.5 TFL’s. That’s a reminder that someone was still giving max effort all game. When the team is running sprints until they puke, White should be allowed to go the locker room to catch up on his Netflix queue. Christian LaCouture quietly had 11 tackles as well, though 9 of them were assists.

7. Number of consecutive possessions Mississippi State scored on, spanning from the first quarter to the third. State scored 17 points in the second quarter, and then added 13 more points on its first three drives of the third. State would add another touchdown on a drive that started in the third but ended in the final frame. LSU’s defense stopped State’s first two drives, and then didn’t get another defensive stop until halfway through the fourth quarter. That’s bad.

16. Etling’s longest completion to a wide receiver (Russell Gage). He did have a 19-yarder to Darrel Williams. Danny Etling was completely unable to stretch the field, and his top target, DJ Chark, had a quiet 3 for 23 night. The passing game gave no help to the running game.

23. Total yards offense for LSU following its first touchdown through the end of the third quarter. While State was busy scoring on every single drive, the LSU offense earned precisely one first down, went three and out three times, and answered the State threat in the weakest possible manner.

3/13. LSU’s third down conversion rate was pitiful. The Tigers went 1 for 6 in the second half, cementing the defeat. Meanwhile, State went 7 of 13, and that’s with starting 1 of 3 in the first quarter. From the second quarter on, the Bulldogs went 6 of 10. LSU could not get the bulldogs off the field, while also doing a poor job of staying on the field when they had the ball.

0. Hey, still no turnovers this season. Yay.