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Not So Initial Impressions: Auburn and the LSU Offense

The defense kicks it old school

Auburn v LSU
Divine Divinity
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I was supposed to be in the stadium, but Lil Poseur woke up on Friday as a mass of phlegm and vomit, so we didn’t make the trip. It turned out, he was an accurate, if disgusting, metaphor for the game.

So I didn’t get to write the recap. Instead, I watched the game with the kids, who felt perfectly fine, and did usual Lil Poseur things, only to occasionally throw up all over the carpet at inopportune times.

Sort of like LSU.

For a game in which the general consensus is that LSU played a poor game and had to gut out a win, LSU sure played really well. LSU’s bad game resulted in over 500 yards of offense and a defensive performance that caused four 2nd half three-and-outs and six consecutive punts.

It was just that every so often, LSU puked all over the carpet, and usually at inopportune time.

If you’ve been an ATVS reader for a while, you are familiar with the concept of Poseur’s Law, that if a team does not turn its advantage in the run of play into points, that advantage dissipates.

This game was Poseur’s Law in action. LSU outgained Auburn by over 200 yards, spent most of the game marching up and down the field, while Auburn could rarely move the football. The difference was that LSU drives kept stalling out. Just look at these drives:

11 plays, 41 yards, results in a punt.
9 plays, 43 yards, turnover on downs.
10 plays, 73 yards, field goal.
8 plays, 74 yards, punt.

That’s four drives that went for, in total, 38 plays for 231 yards, at an average of 6.1 yards per play, resulting in all of three points.

Meanwhile, Auburn spent most of the game spinning its wheels. Auburn had six drives that went for more than 20 yards, and on those drives, they scored 20 points. Auburn had ELEVEN drives of four plays or less, and only the eleventh one resulted in points, and that was primarily due to a phantom pass interference call against Derek Stingley.

Yes, the offense struggled to finish drives, but they still moved the football. And by and large, red zone offense is unpredictable. As a going concern, its far more important LSU’s offense went for 500+ yards rather than it failed to score in the red zone for the first time all year.

More importantly, the defense stepped up.

LSU went into the locker room at the half tied at 10, but would get the ball first in the second half to make a statement and start to put this game away. Only, they didn’t. The offense stalled out at midfield and punted the ball away. And on Auburn’s first play from scrimmage of the second half, DJ Williams ran 70 yards down the field.

That’s when the LSU defense showed up. Auburn would only gain 3 more yards and had to settle for a field goal on that drive. From that point on, the LSU defense gave the offense every chance to win the game. Auburn’s next six drives were a study in defensive domination, all ending in a punt:

3 plays, 1 yard
3 plays, 4 yards
3 plays, -3 yards
3 plays, 2 yards
4 plays, -1 yard
8 plays, 25 yards

Throwing in the 3 yards on 3 plays of the goalline stand to force a field goal, the Auburn offense went 27 plays for 31 yards. Yes, Auburn would get the ball back and score a touchdown on their final drive, but the defense left the door open long enough for the offense to walk through.

The big problem for LSU’s offense wasn’t so much the red zone offense, which I’m inclined to believe is a one time thing, but how poorly LSU played in the fourth quarter.

LSU scored back to back touchdowns, and with 13:29 left in the game, staked themselves to a 23-13 lead. And while the defense kept forcing Auburn punts, LSU’s offense, the supposed strength of the team, squandered multiple chances to put the game away.

Here are LSU’s drives in the fourth quarter, excluding the kneel down at the end:

4 plays, 30 yards, 2:00 TOP, punt
3 plays, 6 yards, 0:41 TOP, punt
3 plays, 4 yards, 1:00 TOP, punt

One long drive would have put the game away, even without points. A touchdown certainly would have ended the threat. And given three chances, the LSU offense gained 40 yards on 10 plays, burning a mere 3:41 of game clock. Three of the team’s six punts on the game came in the fourth quarter.

It was something we haven’t seen all year: the defense bailed out the offense. The defense showed up just in time. Imagine what this team can do with this defensive performance paired with the usual LSU offensive fireworks.

They have a bye week to get it sorted out.