CFN Analysis - LSU Rumbles Over A&M
LSU proved to be too physical, but the Aggies made it interesting.
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It wasn’t exactly like the Florida loss to kick off the season, but it took on the same sort of narrative.
Texas A&M looks great. Johnny Manziel looks like a world-beater. Texas A&M gets up early and appears to be in control. Texas A&M gets steamrolled over by the more physical team and doesn’t have an answer.
The Aggies might have blown it by not coming away with any points following the great field position off a big kickoff return late, but the bigger problem was the inability to shut down the Tiger ground attack. When a team like LSU, or Florida, runs like it does, it’s a trickle that makes the dam explode. The Tigers were able to get a decent run here, a nice burst there, and then boom. Michael Ford springs open for a 20-yard score and Jeremy Hill rumbles for a 47-yard touchdown.
The Aggies are quickly learning that it takes a tough defensive front to survive in the SEC, but they’re also learning that they can’t screw up. With five turnovers, they let LSU be conservative. The Tigers didn’t have to break out of their shell, even if Zack Mettenberger threw it 29 times and tried time and again to come up with a midrange completion. As the game wore on, LSU simply had to keep handing it off, keep pounding away, and let the defense hold firm after the first 25 minutes.
But can LSU do this against Alabama in two weeks? Nope. Mettenberger is going to have to prove he can throw and the Tiger attack will have to open things up a bit, for now, LSU is able to stay in the SEC and national title chases by sticking to the formula.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M has to keep hoping Manziel can keep progressing while slowing down the mistakes. The defense isn’t in place to pick up the slack.
By Richard Cirminiello
Hold off on the coronation.
Johnny Manziel is exciting, a fresh face on the college football landscape who is going to make a ton of big plays throughout his career. Today, however, he learned firsthand the difference between Louisiana Tech and Louisiana State University. No quarterback has his way with the LSU defense, including one of the hottest ones in the country. The Tigers continue to play at an extremely high level, shutting down high-powered Texas A&M following a slow start. In fact, the Aggies didn’t score a point over a pivotal 36-minute stretch, an impressive feat against a team that began the week averaging 47 points a game.
Manziel was intercepted three times, ending any brief flirtation with Heisman voters. His trademark open field quickness, which is what makes him so dangerous outside the pocket, was thoroughly neutralized by the sideline to sideline speed and range of the LSU defenders. The running lanes that were cavernous in the first six games closed in an instant on Saturday afternoon. And passing windows shut with equal suddenness, stifling Manziel’s overall effectiveness.
Having beaten South Carolina and Texas A&M in consecutive games, LSU now has as good a shot as anyone in the country, including Alabama, of playing for a national championship. The Tigers control their own destiny going forward, and so does the Crimson Tide. Oh, and ‘Bama must travel to Baton Rouge in two weeks for the game of the regular season in college football.
By Russ Mitchell
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This reminded us a lot of A&M's first game of the season vs. Florida. In that game, the Aggies came out smoking hot with their up-tempo offense too, and on Saturday they seemed to keep the second best defense in the country trapped in second gear.
When TAMU went up 12-0 early in the second quarter, it was the first time this season that LSU was down by double digits. And that was when the Tigers’ defense woke up.
It was an early kickoff, after all.
Actually, it was more about great coaching adjustments than smelling salts. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis adjusted out of a 4-3 into a 3-4 defense, and shifted his aggressive style down a notch, with the focus more on containment than pursuit. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel struggled to bend to the change, and that’s when the Aggies’ turnovers started. All five of them.
For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 13 A&M turnovers in the last three weeks.
Manziel had as many interceptions against the Tigers as he did in his first five games combined. He also failed to account for a touchdown – another first.
Meanwhile, LSU continues to have success running to the outside with Michael Ford, and pounding the ball inside with freshman Jeremy Hill, who rushed for more than 100 yards in his second straight game (18/127, 1 TD).
Interestingly, both Ford and Hill ended the game averaging 7.1 ypc.
However, LSU’s passing game continues to sputter, and if the Tigers fall behind to Bama like they did Saturday in College Station, they’ll have a much harder time clawing their way back.
By Phil Harrison
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Johnny Football couldn’t quite get it done today.
As good as Texas A&M has looked at times (and it HAS looked good), it has not been able to win its two biggest games of the year against the upper crust of the SEC. No, instead the Aggies came up sort against Florida, and now LSU. But that’s likely what everyone assumed coming into the season anyhow. You had to figure that it would take a couple of years for the Aggies to get used to its new neighbors in the SEC.
In retrospect though, A&M looked more than capable of playing with LSU--a team that has been right there with Alabama as the best in the league. Of course that also means that LSU has been rubbing elbows with the best teams in the country. And Texas A&M is not that far off. It REALLY isn’t.
In fact, had the Aggies not coughed the ball up four times to LSU’s zero turnovers, they likely would have won this game and planted a flag in the ground that the 12th man is ahead of schedule in the ultra-competitive SEC.
For LSU, yes it’s a win, but there are still some significant questions marks that need to be answered. First and foremost, the offense is still needing Zach Mettenberger to be much, much more consistent at quarterback. The Tigers were able to make hay on the ground in this one, but without a legitimate passing game, defense or not--you can forget about the prospects of an SEC championship, let alone a national title. 11 foe 29 for just 97 yards simply doesn’t cut it. The Tigers need to develop some sort of down-field threat to be taken seriously.
But never fear Tiger fans, you’ll get a shot to prove all the doubters wrong in a couple weeks. We hear there’s a significant matchup in Baton Rouge coming after the bye week.
By Matt Zemek
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On Sept. 8 at home against Florida, Texas A&M's offense started strong, flummoxing a formidable opposing defense with its spread passing concepts and the athletic wizardry of its profoundly talented field general, Johnny Manziel. In that game against Florida, Texas A&M entered the middle stages of the second quarter with momentum and game flow working in its favor. The Aggies possessed control of the action. The pace and style of play fit their template and matched the intended goals of head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.
However, for all the good things Texas A&M did in that first half against Florida, it's not as though its offense lit up the scoreboard. A modest total of 17 points was not commensurate with the extent of the superiority displayed by A&M's offense.
In the second half, a more muscular Florida defense found its bearings, made relevant adjustments, did not get caught out of position, and produced basic plays – not spectacular ones, just sound ones. The result? A&M didn't score a single point. Though Florida's offense was hardly special, it gained ground – and leverage – merely by avoiding the proverbial "big mistake." The Gators nursed a small lead to the finish line, besting an inferior and less consistent opponent.
Everything that happened to A&M against Florida happened to LSU, with the slight exception being that A&M didn't get shut out in the second half. However, that's a very empty and cosmetic fact; the Aggies were done and dusted, for all intents and purposes, when they registered their garbage-time touchdown.
Perhaps Texas A&M will get this second-half issue solved in the future and recruit more heft on its offensive line. For now, though, the old guard still owns the day against the Aggies.
By Terry Johnson
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What a difference a couple of games can make. When LSU lost to Florida two weeks ago, it looked like the Tigers had absolutely no chance repeat as the SEC Champion.
However, after the way the Bayou Bengals have played their last two games, it's easy to envision them playing for the national championship. Sure, they'd have to beat Alabama and Florida to get there, but that doesn't appear as far fetched as it might have just a few weeks ago.
Was LSU perfect today? Absolutely not! The Tigers continue to struggle on offense, failing to mount a drive of longer than 58 yards. The defense got off to a slow start early in the game, and kept several A&M drives alive by committing costly penalties.
Even though Tigers certainly need to address these shortcomings if they're going to beat Alabama in two weeks, the fact that they pulled out a win today speaks volumes about the character of this team. Winning in College Station is never easy, especially against the SEC's top offense. However, the defense made it look easy, recording three sacks, and holding Johnny Manziel (the SEC's leader in rushing and total offense) to his worst rushing performance of the season. In addition to corralling Manziel, the Bayou Bengals also forced four turnovers, which set up all three Tiger TDs.
Let's be honest: if the Tiger defense continues to play as well as it did today (sans all the mindless penalties), there's no reason to believe that they can't repeat as conference champions again this year. After all, they managed to post a second consecutive win against a Top 25 team with "just enough offense".
Will this be enough to dethrone the Crimson Tide? We'll find out in two weeks.