Was that game complete enough for y’all?
Personally, I would’ve liked a couple more touchdowns, but this game was every bit the beat-down LSU had in mind for Texas A&M. The Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back, giving this team the perfect senior night a 12-0 season demands.
The Texas A&M marching band covered more yardage than the Aggie offense did in this one — just 169 yards overall and 2.8 per play. That’s one of three lowest outputs LSU’s allowed this year, behind Georgia Southern and Utah State.
At the half, the visitors had just 40 yards against 31 points for the Tigers. And, LSU had 28 points in its first 31 plays. Just an outstanding job by the LSU coaching staff and the players themselves of channeling the emotions and the anger of this game into focus. This was a clinical dispatching of a team that couldn’t stay on the field with LSU.
And now it’s on to the SEC Championship. But for now, let’s look back on how we got here.
- Damn I love Sean McDonough. He’s as good at play-by-play as it gets in college football.
- Skip on the start for the LSU offense with a dribbled snap to Burrow, but look at this blocking:
- Lloyd Cushenberry and Adrian Magee have a great double-team on the nose tackle, and the right side of the line has fired out and made a fantastic back side cut. It’s about four yards blocked and then Clyde Edwards-Helaire powers through for some extra.
- Recurring theme for me on the night: saying “just throw it away Joe...or do that” on scrambles by Burrow that resulted in big plays. Biggest example, of course, was the 30-yard completion to JaMarr Chase on the opening drive. Great job by Chase of stemming to the sideline and then coming back and showing Burrow his number. And of course the quarterback does his job masterfully by using the time he’s given himself and keeping his eyes down field.
- The Tigers’ tempo seemed to catch A&M off balance after the big play, but the left side of the offensive line, the receivers and Thad Moss all made a fantastic seal on Edwards-Helaire’s opening touchdown.
- Interesting choice by Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M to go with a no-huddle look from the jump in this game. That’s not typically what he wants to do, but I guess he felt like he had to keep pace. Of course with a very deliberate substitution pattern the Aggies never could really move at any speed.
- Tiger defense answered with a lot of single-high safety looks, and really challenged the A&M receivers from the first snap. Worked, too.
- Likewise, with the A&M offense mostly working in third-and-long, Dave Aranda got very aggressive with pressure. And on the first possession it appears to draw the intentional grounding from Kellen Mond. He might’ve been expecting a different route break on the play, but he also had nowhere to go with a very well-executed contain rush from Rashard Lawrence to Mond’s right.
- I did find it funny that ESPN’s “rules expert” didn’t like the on-field officials guessing what was in the mind of Mond, but was so sure that he only threw the pass because he was expecting a receiver to be near there.
- Tigers hit the “glance” RPO off of a handoff look on drive two, for a 14-yard gain to Chase. Such a reliable play this year.
- Y-Corner concept on the second touchdown of the night, to Justin Jefferson. Corner route from the inside man in a trips set over a pair of square-ins. Easy way to get a receiver matched up on a linebacker or safety that’s not going to stay in front of him.
- On the Aggies’ second drive they try and muscle up with a stretch play out of the I-formation, but Maurice Hampton does a real nice job of crashing and making the tackle on Isaiah Spiller for a short gain.
- A&M definitely tried to mimic some of the QB run looks that Ole Miss had so much success with, but the Tiger defensive line did a fantastic job of freeing up the linebackers to close.
- Marcel Brooks finished with just two tackles and a half a sack as his final statline, but his speed off the edge definitely had the Aggie tackles spooked. Exploded off the edge to help get his half-a-sack with K’Lavon Chaisson on the Aggies’ second possession.
- I’ve given my thoughts on faking injuries before, and I still believe that no matter how egregious the flop appears, don’t boo. That said, did anyone else notice how the Aggies suddenly stopped having cramp issues as this game got further and further out of reach?
- Chase’s 79-yard touchdown looked well-schemed. Corner plays Chase outside, clearly expecting to have safety help on the inside. But a crossing route holds the safeties eyes for just a second, Chase has a free release and Burrow can just lay it out there.
- Small play, but something that really shows how dialed-in the Tiger defense was. On the third A&M possession, Mond hits Quartney Davis on a shallow crossing route on second and 10, perfectly in stride and running towards a blocker that, in theory should have allowed him to get up field for yards after the catch. But Damone Clark closes fast and makes a tackle for a two-yard gain.
- Chaisson’s second sack shows, in my opinion, how Aranda’s defense is a much better match-up against a pro-style type of offense:
- LSU has a two-deep look with press coverage against all four receivers, and the defensive front all bunched close to the line, with the Chaisson and Brooks out wide and the linebackers over the guards. From this look, they can show a five-man rush, but with the linebackers still reading the protection. Queen shows a rush, but then picks up the back when he releases. It grabs the guard’s attention just enough that when Chaisson crashes inside, the tackle has no help and he can close on the QB. To the opposite side, you can also see Clark getting up field and even stunting towards the center before backing off, likely as a spy in case Mond had broken loose.
- On the ensuing Tiger drive, great leverage by Badara Traore and Damien Lewis on the fourth-and-one run by Tyrion Davis-Price. Both get under the defensive lineman’s pads and get their man turned, giving TDP a good crease.
- As if the four touchdowns on four drives weren’t enough, you have to enjoy watching Cade York bang a pair of 50-yard field goals. That kid seems to have completely shaken whatever issues he was having near the middle of the season. And with the defenses’ LSU will see over the next month, points will be at a premium.
- LSU’s next sack of Mond would just be pure strength. Clark bull-rushes right through the A&M right guard:
- We see another disguised rush help create the one-on-one, as Jacoby Stevens occupied the center. But this is just a man-handling from Clark.
- Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t take advantage, and the Aggies got a pair of sacks at the expense of Ed Ingram, with Justin Madubuike flushing Burrow for one and Bobby Brown getting by for another.
- Not totally sure who busted on the Aggies’ one big play on the wheel route to Spiller. Clark appears to be sucked in by the play-fake, but both Derek Stingley Jr. and Cordale Flott take a receiver on a crossing route, which doesn’t quite seem right. Kristian Fulton is left with the deep third and in a bind between the one receiver releasing deep or Spiller coming out of the backfield. Of course when you’re up 34-0 and the opponent still has less than 100 yards of offense this is a relatively minor annoyance.
- The annoyance gets even smaller when the offense answers on the ensuing drive. Aggies get away with some pass interference on Burrow’s near-interception intended for Thad Moss, but on the next play a corner attempts to try and wall-off Chase on a slot fade, and that goes about as well as one would expect, given the way Chase has played. The sophomore from Metairie seems to be pulling himself squarely into the lead for post-season honors alongside his quarterback. He now leads all power-five conference receivers with 1,473 yards and all receivers period with 17 touchdowns. While averaging an incredible 20 yards per catch. Going to be pretty hard to justify anyone else winning the Biletnikoff award.
- As the situation grows more desperate, eventually Mond throws up a prayer on third and 26. Easy to say Stevens should have dropped the interception for better field position, but that’s always easier said than done for defensive players in the moment. And ultimately yardage difference isn’t a huge deal.
- There aren’t a many ways you can imagine this night being anymore perfect for Joe Burrow, outside of maybe actually breaking the SEC touchdown pass record instead of merely tying it. From the way the night began:
- To the way it ended, with a curtain call and a hug for his successor as he entered with 12 minutes left in the game. Burrow is going to go down as one of, if not the, greatest players in LSU history, and he’s going to carve his name into the history of all of college football in two weeks when he brings home the Heisman Trophy. I’m glad he was able to savor all of his final night in Tiger Stadium, and I hope that all of you have been able to savor exactly how special this season has been.
- And then Burrow got to watch Myles Brennan throw a nice touchdown to Racey McMath for 58 yards. Great placement on the throw, high and outside on a comeback route with solid coverage. McMath slips away from the corner and then gives a nice stutter step that makes the safety stumble just enough for him to get by.
- Also great seeing the defensive line still hustle on the ensuing drive to snuff out some runs. Aggies had clearly packed it in at this point.
- The yardage numbers are gaudy enough, but on top of that the defense finished with three picks and a season-high six sacks. Mond finished with just 10 completions in 30 attempts, for 92 yards. Here are the overall numbers on the secondary, via Cody Worsham:
Kary Vincent: 1-6, 13 yards, INT, 2 PBU— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) December 1, 2019
Derek Stingley: 1-4, 6 yards, PBU
Kristian Fulton: 1-3, 3 yards, 2 PBU
Grant Delpit: 2-4, 18 yards, INT, PBU
JaCoby Stevens: 0-1, INT
Cordale Flott: 0-2, PBU
Mo Hampton: 0-1, PBU
Jay Ward: 0-1
Cam Lewis: 0-1#DBU https://t.co/ftubbRhFFX
- When Grant Delpit allows a game-high two completions in four coverage attempts, and still picked off one of those passes, that’s a pretty solid night.
- And then the defense gets the capper with a safety. Backup quarterback James Foster loses the snap, and has no choice but to bail out on the play.
We’ve had a lot of satisfying moments this season. This one wasn’t the top — not by a long shot — but it was still pretty damn good. Sure, a ‘91 Cotton Bowl-style shit-kicking would have been fun, but we got a cold, calculated, almost effortless dispatching. Now it’s on to Atlanta.
In the playoff era it’s easy to forget what a conference championship means, but LSU only has four in all of the successes of the last 20 years. Let’s appreciate the opportunity in front of us this week for what it is, not for what it can lead to later on.