That was much better, LSU.
I know South Carolina isn’t good, but neither are Missouri or Mississippi State, and getting a convincing win was extremely refreshing. Obviously the story is TJ Finley, and the fantastic job he did in relief for the injured Myles Brennan. He wasn’t asked to do anything particularly difficult in terms of responsibility at the position, but he executed what he was tasked with close to flawlessly in a very difficult situation overall. Steve Ensminger and Scott Linehan did a great job keeping reads simple for Finley while effectively scheming players open in the quick game. Finley was decisive, comfortable, composed, and efficient. LSU couldn’t have asked for better than what they got from him and their offensive coaching staff— a great game for all involved there. Defensively? Still a huge issue, and one that likely won’t be fixed until Bo Pelini is elsewhere.
The game started effectively for LSU, with the offense marching down the field on a 16-play, run heavy, old school drive for a touchdown on a TJ Finley quarterback sneak. South Carolina answered right back with a three-play, 75-yard touchdown strike of their own on a mess of a possession for Bo Pelini that ended with South Carolina running back Kevin Harris in the end zone.
LSU responded with a field goal to make it 10-7. LSU then forced a three and out (lol ikr) and followed it with a TJ Finley fade touchdown to Terrace Marshall to make it 17-7. South Carolina drove down the field but Gamecock kicker Parker White missed a field goal. TJ Finley then threw a bad interception with a long return, but LSU shut down Carolina’s possession and held them to a field goal to make it 17-10.
LSU followed that with a strike from Finley that Terrace Marshall, who busted free for a 51- yard score, and giving LSU a 24-10 lead. South Carolina followed that gut punch with a pick six by Eli Ricks, which served as the knockout punch.
The teams traded touchdowns to start the second half. Parker White then missed another field goal, which LSU followed by sending Ty Davis-Price straight down their throat to make it 45-17. South Carolina turned it over on downs, and LSU added another touchdown to officially make it a laugher at 52-17. Carolina scored a late touchdown that nobody cared about to make it a 54-24 drubbing.
Let’s start with the defense, which, particularly against the run, was once again awful. This is clearly a team that is extremely confused and tentative in their run fits. Busted assignments aren’t just an issue in coverage for this team. This is just an awful rep from Damone Clark. He needs to get downhill and fill his gap hard, instead, he just sits three yards downfield and lets his guy blow him out of the play. There is just no confidence here, like he isn’t sure what to do.
This is just a whiff by JaCoby Stevens, he’s out of his fit. His job is to set the edge and force this inside but...whelp, he fits inside the puller, and yikes. If JaCoby Stevens of all people is making these mistakes, it isn’t a player problem. Bo Pelini remains cancelled.
This is just a great scheme by Steve Ensminger/Scott Linehan. As I noted in my game preview on Friday, South Carolina isn’t afraid to move Jaycee Horn around to follow a team’s number one receiver in a man coverage assignment. LSU used that here to great effect by sending Marshall on a little wheel off a rub. Really tough position for Horn here. When a team travels their clear best corner to shadow a receiver, it’s straight man to man. Good call here, Marshall is wide open.
LSU really ratcheted up the RPOs for TJ Finley, calling them at a seismically higher rate than with Brennan. RPOs are probably the best way to hold a QBs hand in college football, and it really helped TJ Finley operate the game and keep the offense on schedule. Really good stuff from Ensminger, great great job handling an inexperienced QB in a tough situation. They did a great job keeping reads simple for Finley who executed all that was asked at a supreme level.
Terrace Marshall, lol. Trail concept, nicely read out by Finley. Gets to his second option quickly and in rhythm. Marshall does the rest.
Another good example of how Ensminger kept things simple for Finley and kept him in rhythm. Just a little slant/stop combo here where Finley reads the hook defender. He stays shallow with the stop so Finley just rips the slant behind him. Quick read, quick throw. Story of the night, perfect job by Finley.
Brennan is still the guy if he can go WITHOUT QUESTION, but TJ Finley’s superb performance definitely allows you more leeway to play it safe with Brennan’s injury. Hats off to Finley, could not be happier for the Ponchatoula Pistol. I hope he recognizes how impressive of an accomplishment stepping in and playing effectively as a true freshman in this season is.