That sure was exciting, wasn’t it? The Brian Kelly era did not exactly start the way anyone at LSU hoped, and the box score reveals not exactly the tale of two halves, but more of a tale of three quarters, followed up by an almost completely different final frame.
How you feel about this LSU team is likely dictated by how much credence you give that final quarter. Was it score effects? A desperation gasp not truly indicative of the team’s quality? Or was it a genuine turnaround in the team’s play.
As they say, time will tell, but let’s dig into the box score and make some unfounded value judgments! Because overreactions are the best kind of reactions.
11/17. Florida St’s third down conversions. Third and Chavis is back, folks! This is also where we do our semi-annual rant that there is no real repeatable skill of stopping third down conversions. Good defense tend to stop more because, well, they are good defenses, but “third down defense” in and of itself isn’t really a thing. Except that it is, in one game.
LSU’s defense couldn’t get off the field, allowing FSU to keep drives alive. The problem was particularly pronounced on the three Seminole drives beginning in the third quarter. On those three drives, FSU went 5/6 on third downs, en route to scoring 17 consecutive points. The lead was built on third down conversions, so it is hard to say it didn’t matter. It absolutely did. But outside of those drives, FSU converted 6/11 third downs… the same exact conversion rate as LSU. So, long term problem? Probably not, but it was a problem on Sunday.
33%. Kayshon Boutte’s catch rate. OK, let’s talk about it. He quit. And look, fans will forgive a lot, but they will not forgive quitting on the team. If it’s a bad game, then it’s a bad game. He needs to get over it and move on. So do the fans.
The balls weren’t perfect, but if Boutte is the player he is being billed as, he needs to make those catches. If he makes the touchdown catch in the first quarter, it changes the entire complexion of the game. But the numbers reveal just how bad of a game it was. How did every other pass catcher on the team do? They caught 24 balls on 25 targets. Boutte has 2 catches on 6 targets. That is a horrible night on the stat sheet, made worse by how it actually looked. He looked like he wasn’t even trying.
2. LSU muffed punts and Florida St. blocked kicks. I mean, there are bad special teams games and then there bad special teams games. You lose by one when the final play of the game is a blocked PAT, which should be virtually automatic, it will go down as an all-timer.
In LSU’s defense, those four miscues combined only cost LSU a grand total of 4 points. Neither of the muffed punts resulted in points, and the two blocked kicks were worth less than a touchdown… but man, those were some important points. Especially when it is the last play of the game.
2/4. Florida St’s red zone efficiency. As much as third down defense isn’t really a repeatable skill that still has a huge impact on individual games, the same goes for red zone success. Florida St. tried to put the game away, turning down a chip shot field goal so it could go for the knockout blow. It didn’t work. Coupled with a fumble on the one yard line, Florida St miscues kept LSU in the game. IF LSU completes the comeback, that’s what is the lead story right now.
102. Ontaria Wilson’s receiving yards. We often forget this, but the other team is trying to win, too. Wilson was the best player on the field and that is often the difference in a close game. Whose stars show out? Wilson caught 7 passed for 102 yards and 2 TDs. Both of his TD’s were spectacular, though it is saying something that FSU dipped deep into the bag of tricks, running a double reverse flea flicker to get him open. Straight up, FSU couldn’t break the game open. That second touchdown, however, was just an incredible play by Wilson. Great players make great plays.
323. Jayden Daniels’ yards from scrimmage: 114 by ground, 216 by air. LSU only had 348 net yards. Simply put, he was the offense. And as he went, so did the offense. On the one hand, yay. On the other…
Daniels was bad for three quarters. Yes, he could always run the ball, but LSU had just 85 passing yards through three quarters. He had just 47 yards at the half. That is simply not going to get it done, even if he manages to run for over 100 yards a game.
But when it mattered? 14 of 19 for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. He even tacked on 38 yards on 2 important carries in the final drive. Say what you will about his first three quarters in the game, and they were statistically brutal, but Daniels balled out in the final frame. He put the team on his back and grew into the job right then and there. He didn’t shrink from the moment, he rose to it.
Those final three drives of the game, as it seemed most hopeless?
11 plays for 82 yards.
15 plays for 75 yards.
11 plays for 99 yards.
Why didn’t we make the whole plane of the fourth quarter? 37 plays for 256 yards and 20 points. That’s a 6.9 yards per play average. IF LSU plays like that all game, this one wouldn’t have even been close. The rest of the game? 29 plays for 98 yards, a 3.4 yards per play average. And they scored just 3 points on 5 drives.
So which team is the real LSU? Or somewhere in between? These are the questions we have the rest of the season to find out.