That was apocalyptic. Let it sink in that LSU just got absolutely incinerated by a team that should have walked into the game 1-4. Auburn isn’t good, Bo Nix isn’t good, and LSU made them look like they were headed for Atlanta (they’re not). Next up, Alabama, and I think 63-3 is a reasonable expectation.
I’m not sure you need as detailed a recap as usual, score for score, as the final score pretty much tells you what you need to know. It started off going back and forth, with the first four possessions of the game ended in punts. LSU was then able to get a couple first downs, but shied away from going for it on a 4th and 2 at the Auburn 36, paying for it with a missed field goal. Auburn then drove down the field, but fumbled out of the endzone on a great play by Derek Stingley for a touchback.
Then came the avalanche. TJ Finley threw a bad interception on a speed out that was returned to the LSU 4. Auburn punched it in a couple snaps later. The teams traded punts again, but then TJ Finley fumbled on a sack, which Auburn took to the endzone to make it 14-0. LSU took the ball back only to punt after six plays. Auburn responded with a touchdown, making 21-0. From there, LSU added a field goal at the end of the half. Auburn scored immediately to start the second half, followed Finley’s second interception. Auburn scored touchdowns on their next three possessions with LSU only scoring one. Ugly.
Obviously the offense was awful, but there’s little to break down there, they couldn’t protect, and TJ Finley just isn’t remotely ready—or perhaps good enough overall— to handle this level of competition. The offense shouldn’t be asked to succeed with a true freshman, that was not super highly recruited QB right now. This is pretty expected, and not much of a concern given neither Finley or Johnson is integral to LSU’s future offensive aspirations. The defense is downright cataclysmic, and needs to be discussed.
This displays what happens whenever LSU tries to play a coverage even a little bit more complex than just two-man or man free, which are straight man-to-man across the board. They look to be playing a coverage known as Banjo here. The idea of Banjo is to deal with these stacked/clustered sets by having DBs play man-to-man based on release direction by receivers. One guy takes the one who releases in, one guy takes the one who releases out, etc etc. It appears Flott thought it was straight man. They just don’t know any of their assignments beyond the most simple. It’s unbelievable how poorly of a job the defensive staff did installing this stuff. As a result, LSU is basically forced to play straight man-to-man with no reads designed to adapt to the man beaters and tough assignments you’ll face. That has consequences.
Above are a few examples of how an offense can attack that.
The first of those three gifs shows how a stacked set can kill man coverage. It is another example of where Banjo would be really nice to be able to call and execute without a busted assignment.
The second shows a switched release, which just kills man to man and is a golden call for an offensive coordinator when you know a defense is limited to playing straight man-to-man.
The third shows a double vert/out combo. This would be a great time to call a coverage known as stubbie. Stubbie is a Saban coverage where the corner takes the No. 1 receiver (closest to sideline) man-to-man straight up. The nickel, or “star” in some terminologies, would take the No. 2 receiver man to man UNLESS the No. 3 receiver breaks out within five yards. In this case if LSU were playing stubbie, Flott would have been able to cut off that speed out by Schwartz. Since LSU is basically guaranteed to be playing straight man, Malzahn knows he can have the fastest college football player there is against a linebacker in an out breaking situation. No chance for LSU to stop this.
It isn’t just the minutia of coverages that is boning the LSU defense, those coverages can get complicated and need a lot of reps to really drill into these kids at game speed. They’re failing with even simpler stuff. Here is either Jacoby Stevens or Jabril Cox busting their assignment. I suspect it’s Stevens’ job to collapse on the flat here instead of fitting inside but it could go either way.
Here is true freshman Jordan Toles learning the hard way that superstar sprinter and potential combine 40-yard dash record challenger Anthony Schwartz is faster than the kids he played in high school. LSU looks to be playing a vertical bracket here between the boundary corner (Stingley? Flott?) that........wasn’t vertical enough on Toles’ end. Oof
Did they just not do run fits in Fall Camp?
Pelini to Pluto, historic dereliction.