After an opening week debacle, LSU needed an easy win. Well, they got that, but not much else. And nothing which will quiet the boo birds in the LSU fanbase.
LSU had a chance to make a statement early, and to give the team credit, it largely did so. LSU put together a 10 play, 63 yard drive which ate up 8:16 of clock, ending in a touchdown pass from Max Johnson to Trey Palmer. That was the good news.
The bad news is that LSU seemed unable to build off of that opening drive, getting zero points on its next three possessions, including a turnover on downs when LSU was unable to convert on a 3rd and 1. McNeese is precisely the kind of team which LSU should dominate, and while LSU was never in serious trouble at any point in this game, the offense simply could not get things going.
The biggest problem for LSU was an absolutely anemic run game. The Tigers could never establish a run game, and despite an early 21-yard gain, the Tigers finished the night with just 126 yards on 36 carries for a 3.5 yard average.
The running game improved as the game wore on and LSU wore the McNeese defense out. Heck, they even got a nice running TD in the fourth quarter. Still, that’s simply unsustainable.
While the offense failed to find any sort of rhythm, the defense at least did what it should do against an outmatched foe: it dominated. McNeese managed a mere 53 yards of offense in the first half, and things didn’t get better in the second half. They would finish with 142 yards on the game. The defense held up its end of the bargain all night long.
The biggest positive for LSU all night was, sadly, its kicker. Cade York set the Tiger Stadium record with a 55-yard field goal in the first half, only to break his own record in the second half with a 56-yarder. Cade York is gonna play in the NFL for a long time, y’all.
The biggest problem for LSU’s offense is that it seemed to get worse as the game went on. After an opening drive TD, the offense scuffled a bit over the rest of the half before closing the first with two scoring drives. But the offense opened the second half with two consecutive drives which went almost nowhere and required punts.
This meant that Orgeron stuck with Max Johnson far longer than he would have liked, so Garret Nussmeier sat on the bench for hours, despite the promise he would see action in this game. He would not see action until late in the third quarter.
And yeah, Nussmeier showed off some of those skills, but it didn’t translate into actual production. So it’s not like he was doing any better than Max Johnson out there.
This is the sort of game in which you see what you want to see. LSU never remotely struggled nor was victory ever in doubt. They scored on their first drive, and slowly extended their lead all game, and didn’t even have to install the red zone defense until the game was well out of reach.
On the other hand, the offense struggled all night long and the running game was practically non-existent. LSU had multiple chances to put this game away early, and it was still a competitive game at the half, as LSU only had a 17-0 lead.
LSU won this game easily, but for many, it was likely not easy enough.