CFN Take: LSU, Fournette Run Over A&M
2014 LSU Tigers ... Head Coach: Les Miles
LSU Football Game Tickets
Nov. 27 LSU 23, at Texas A&M 17
Aug. 30 Wisc. (Houston) W 28-24
Sep. 6 Sam Houston St W 56-0
Sep. 13 ULM W 31-0
Sep. 20 Mississippi St L 34-29
Sep. 27 New Mexico St W 63-7
Oct. 4 at Auburn L 41-7
Oct. 11 at Florida W 30-27
Oct. 18 Kentucky W 41-3
Oct. 25 Ole Miss W 10-7
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 Alabama L 20-13 OT
Nov. 15 at Arkansas L 17-0
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 27 at Texas A&M W 23-17
And You Care Because … Leonard Fournette came up with a big game, along with a 22-yard touchdown run, but LSU had to hold on late with a Jalen Collins interception snuffing out a final Texas A&M drive. The Aggies started out the scoring with a 41-yard Trey Williams run, but LSU came back with 20 straight points with Fournette’s run, a ten-yard John Diarse touchdown catch and two Trent Dominigue field goals. The Aggies fought back, pulling within three in the final seven minutes with a 27-yard Speedy Noil catch, but LSU was able to answer back with a key 43-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal forcing A&M to go for a late touchdown.
What Else? LSU RB Leonard Fournette ran 19 times for 146 yards and a score, and QB Anthony Jennings completed 12-of-21 passes for 107 yards and a score with a pick, and ran 14 times for 119 yards
- Time of possession: LSU 41:13 – Texas A&M 18:47
- Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen completed 17-of-27 passes for 144 yards and a score with a pick
- Total yards: LSU 491 – Texas A&M 228
Game Rating: B
Nov. 15 at Arkansas 17, LSU 0
And You Care Because … Arkansas ended its 17 game SEC losing streak as Jonathan Williams ran for a one-yard score in the second quarter and Alex Collins ran for a five-yard touchdown in the fourth. Adam McFain started out the scoring with a 32-yard field goal on the opening drive for all the points the Hogs would need. LSU managed just 123 yards of total offense.
What Else? Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins combined for 34 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns
- LSU ran 32 times for 36 yards, averaging 1.1 yards per try
- Arkansas QB Brandon Allen completed 16-of-27 passes for 169 yards
- Third down conversions: Arkansas 10-of-17 – LSU 6-of-14
Game Rating: C-
Nov. 8 Alabama 20, at LSU 13
And You Care Because … In overtime, DeAndrew White caught a six-yard touchdown pass to give Alabama the lead, and LSU couldn’t answer as Anthony Jennings’ fourth down pass into the end zone got knocked away. It took a tremendous Tide drive just to get to the extra time, going nine plays in 55 yards following an out of bounds kick that gave Alabama great field position – Adam Griffith came up with the 27-yard field goal to tie it. LSU scored first on a 14-yard Malachi Dupre catch, but Alabama took the lead on a 23-yard Amari Cooper touchdown and a 39-yard Griffith field goal. Two Colby Delahoussaye field goals gave the Tigers the lead, including a 39-yarder with 50 seconds to play to go up 13-10 – that led to the errant kickoff.
What Else? Alabama QB Blake Sims completed 20-of-45 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and ran five times for 12 yards
- LSU QB Anthony Jennings completed 8-of-26 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown with a pick
- Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon ran 15 times for 68 yards
- Time of possession: LSU 38:13 – Alabama 21:47
Game Rating: A
Oct. 25 at LSU 10, Ole Miss 7
And You Care Because … LSU finally broke through the Ole Miss defense for a 13-play, 95-yard drive with Logan Stokes catching a three-yard touchdown pass with just over five minutes to play. Ole Miss stalled once, but got the ball back one last drive and drove into field goal range with a 42-yard try to force overtime – but the Rebels were nailed with a delay of game penalty. They tried one more play, and Bo Wallace was picked off on an ill-advised throw and LSU hung on. The Rebels scored first on a 15-yard Cody Core catch late in the first quarter, but LSU was able to get on the board in the second on a 21-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal. The two teams missed on several chances, with LSU turning it over four times, and Ole Miss bending, but not breaking until late.
What Else? LSU RB Leonard Fournette ran 23 times for 113 yards
- Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace completed 14-of-33 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran 12 times for a team-high 40 yards
- Time of possession: LSU 36:00 – Ole Miss 24:00
- Broken up passes: LSU 12 – Ole Miss 3
Game Rating: A
Oct. 18 at LSU 41, Kentucky 3
And You Care Because … LSU never let this get interesting as Leonard Fournette ran for a one-yard score and Tre’Davious White returned a punt 67 yards for a score on the way to a 17-0 lead. Terrence Magee ran for two third quarter touchdowns and Travin Dural caught a 32-yard touchdown pass in the rout. Kentucky only managed a 33-yard Austin MacGinnis field goal and 217 yards of total offense.
What Else? LSU RB Terrence Magee ran nine times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, and led the team with 44 receiving yards on three carries
- Kentucky ran 27 times for 71 yards – LSU ran 51 times for 303 yards and three touchdowns
- Penalties: LSU 10 for 80 yards – Kentucky 5 for 55 yards
- LSU QB Anthony Jennings completed 7-of-14 passes for 120 yards and a score
Game Rating: D-
Oct. 11 LSU 30, at Florida 27
And You Care Because … With the game tied in the final minute, a late interception of Jeff Driskel led to a 50-yard Colby Delahoussaye field goal as time expired to give LSU the win. Rough early, the game got stronger as the game went on with neither team ever up by more than one score after Florida took a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter. Kenny Hilliard and Leonard Fournette brought the Tigers back with two short scores, and Travin Dural answered a Florida score – an 11-yard Demarcus Robinson touchdown grab – with an 11-yard touchdown catch with under three minutes to play. A 73-yard pass play to Robinson gave the Gators a perfect chance to take the lead in the final minutes, but the LSU defense held on the goal line, forcing Florida to settle for an 18-yard Francisco Velez field goal to tie it before the wild final 90 seconds.
What Else? Total yards: Florida 306 – LSU 305. Turnovers: Florida 3 – LSU 0
- LSU RB Leonard Fournette ran 27 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns
- Florida QB Jeff Driskel completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards and a score with two picks, and led the team with 71 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries
- LSU QB Anthony Jennings completed 10-of-21 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: B+
Oct. 4 at Auburn 41, LSU 7
And You Care Because … Auburn did whatever it wanted getting up 17-0 in the first quarter highlighted by a 56-yard Sammie Coates score and a seven-yard run from Nick Marshall. LSU got its only points on a one-yard Kenny Hilliard run late in the first, but Auburn scored 24 unanswered points with Marshall running for another score and throwing a nine-yard scoring pass to C.J. Uzomah. Daniel Carlson hit field goals from 46 and 52 yards away.
What Else? Third down conversions: Auburn 6-of-12 – LSU 0-of-13
- Auburn QB Nick Marshall completed 14-of-22 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 16 times for 119 yards and two scores
- LSU QB Brandon Harris completed 3-of-14 passes for 58 yards, and Anthony Jennings completed 5-of-10 throws for 84 yards
- Auburn WR Sammie Coates caught four passes for 144 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: D
Sept. 27 at LSU 63, New Mexico State 7
And You Care Because … In a sloppy game with each team turning it over four times, and with Anthony Jennings having a rough time, LSU still had few problems getting up 42-7 going into halftime with Leonard Fournette running for two scores and Kendell Beckwith picking off a pass for a 29-yard score in the blowout. Brandon Harris ran for two touchdowns and threw three touchdown passes, finding Malchi Dupre and Melvin Jones in the first half and coming up with a ten-yarder to Travin Dural in the third. NMSU’s lone score came on a 79-yard run from Andrew Allen in the second quarter.
What Else? LSU QB Brandon Harris completed 11-of-14 passes for 178 yards and three score, and ran five times for 36 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, Anthony Jennings completed 2-of-5 passes for 11 yards with two picks.
- New Mexico State QB Andrew Allen completed two of two passes for 16 yards and ran five times for 113 yards and a score
- LSU RB Leonard Fournette ran 18 times for 122 yards and two scores
- Total yards: LSU 563 yards – NMSU 274
Game Rating: D
Sept. 20 Mississippi State 34, at LSU 29
And You Care Because … Mississippi State ran all over LSU with Josh Robinson and Dak Prescott each going for over 100 yards with a touchdown, but LSU came roaring back and almost pulled off a miracle. Down 34-10, the Tigers scored 19 unanswered points with Kenny Hilliard running for a score and Malachi Dupre making touchdown grabs from 31 and 30 yards out within 28 seconds to pull within five. They’d get one more shot, but Brandon Harris’s desperation heave into the end zone was picked off. MSU dominated before the late run, helped by a 74-yard Jameon Lewis touchdown catch and a 56-yard Prescott Dash to pull away in the third before the late LSU rally.
What Else? Mississippi State gained 570 yards of total offense, the most allowed by LSU under Les Miles.
- Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott completed 15-of-24 passes for 268 yards and two scores, and he ran 22 times for 105 yards and a score.
- MSU outgained LSU 302 yards to 89. Josh Robinson ran for 197 yards and a score on 16 carries for the Bulldogs.
- LSU QB Brandon Harris completed 6-of-9 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran for 19 yards, and Anthony Jennings completed 13-of-26 passes for 157 yards and ran for six.
Game Rating: B
Sept. 13 at LSU 31, ULM 0
And You Care Because … LSU took a little while to get going, but it didn’t have any problems as Darrel Williams ran for two touchdowns and Leonard Fournette took off for a 24-yard score. ULM never threatened, finishing with just 93 yards of offense.
What Else? LSU’s running game only ran for 4.2 yards per carry, but Leonard Fournette ran ten times for 52 yards and a score and Kenny Hilliard ran for 50 yards and a touchdown.
- ULM finished with 16 rushing yards on 18 carries with no run longer than six yards.
- LSU QB Anthony Jennings completed 11-of-18 passes for 139 yards and a pick, and ran seven times for 20 yards.
- ULM QB Pete Thomas completed 16-of-30 passes for 77 yards.
Game Rating: D
Sept. 6 at LSU 56, Sam Houston State 0
And You Care Because … Anthony Jennings found Travin Dural for touchdown passes from 94, 27 and 18 yards in the first half, and Leonard Fournette struck the Heisman pose after a first quarter four-yard touchdown run on the way to the blowout win. The Tigers rolled at will with 584 yards of total offense and 334 on the ground. Fournette ran for 92 yards and a score, while Dural caught three passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns. Anthony Jennings completed 7-of-13 passes for 188 yards and three scores with 43 yards on eight carries, and Brandon Harris completed 4-of-5 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown and ran five times for 53 yards and a score.
Game Rating: D
Aug. 30 LSU 28, Wisconsin 24 in Houston
And You Care Because … Down 24-7, LSU scored 15 unanswered points in the second half as the defense shut down the Badger offense cold and Anthony Jennings heated up. Kenny Hilliard pounded out a 28-yard touchdown run, and Jennings found John Diarse for a 36-yard touchdown pass in the fourth and connected with Travin Dural for an 80-yard score in the first half. Wisconsin got touchdown runs from Reggie Love, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, but the ground attack was bottled up late.
What Else? LSU converted on a fake punt and turned it into a field goal that helped sparked the run to a win, but injuries in the UW defensive interior helped – LSU took advantage and everything started to click. Wisconsin had its chances but didn’t take advantage.
- No passing game became a killer for the Badgers. Tanner McEvoy completed just 8-of-24 passes for 50 yards and two picks – the receivers couldn’t get open, and Gordon, who ran 16 times for 140 yards and a score, was silent in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff forgot about him.
- Leonard Fournette carried the ball eight times for 18 yards, but it was Kenny Hilliard who took control of the LSU offense with 110 yards and a score on 18 carries.
- The Badgers got 15 tackles and a fumble recovery from safety Michael Caputo, and 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss from Marcus Trotter, but the line broke down in the second half.
Game Rating: B+
Maybe this is one of those Les Miles teams that
seems like it's taking a step back, but all of a sudden it comes together and becomes something truly special.
It’s not fair in any way to say that two straight 10-3 seasons were disappointing, but for LSU, two straight 10-3 seasons were disappointing, and now, on the surface, it seems like the team might be in a rebuilding mode, even if that’s not allowed.
In the SEC world, everything has to be perfect to be at the level that LSU fans are accustomed to. Few schools can honestly go into every season with no excuses, and with the recruiting classes, the home field advantage, the coaching staff, and everything else most teams dream of. LSU is one of those programs that isn’t really allowed to have an eight-win year, and considering how Alabama keeps on rolling, no, 10-3 isn’t good enough.
But sometimes even programs like LSU have to take a wee step back before going back to being championship good, and with another phenomenal recruiting class coming in, and several sure-thing stars among the true freshmen, it might take getting past a few growing pains.
Last year, the passing game found its groove with Zach Mettenberger bombing away to Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., but all three of them are gone to the NFL. Also gone is top running back Jeremy Hill, and as always with LSU, several key defensive players. As always, though, there’s more than enough superstar high school talent ready to rise up, and with this program, the next man up might be better.
Patience could be a problem this season with a recruiting class that includes the best overall prospect (running back Leonard Fournette) along with the top safety (Jamal Adams), the top middle linebacker (Clifton Garrett), one of the top receivers (Malachi Dupre) and defensive tackles (Travonte Valentine), and a quarterback (Brandon Harris) who could end up starting from Day One. And those are just the stars of the class – there are several other four-star talents coming in looking to contribute right away.
However, as amazing as LSU’s 2014 class might have been, Alabama’s – at least on paper – is probably better, and that’s the problem. LSU can be really, really, REALLY good, and again, 10-3 just won’t get it done.
So now it’s up to Miles to use that to the team’s advantage. It’s okay to go with the “no one believes in us” cliché, because it’s probably true. Alabama will be almost everyone’s preseason SEC West pick, Auburn will be up there, and Texas A&M is now the fun program to keep an eye on. LSU will be ranked in the top 15, and it’ll be considered part of the mix for the SEC title, but reputation and young talent will have a lot to do with that.
The passing game is going to be worse, the defense still has to prove itself again at an elite level after a disappointing season, and yeah, relying on true freshmen is asking for disaster.
So this season, 10-3 might just be good enough. Even if it’s not.
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback battle and the passing game. With the arrival of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the LSU offense and passing game went into hyperdrive, rolling for close to 3,300 yards with 23 scores and averaging ten yards per attempt after coming up with 2,607 yards and 12 touchdowns averaging 7.3 yards per throw in 2012. The downfield passing game that was so effective and so good last year might be gone now that Mettenberger isn't around, but the receiving talent is in place in Travin Dural, John Diarse and Malachi Dupre to keep the air show going if the quarterback situation is solid.
Anthony Jennings got his chances late in the season when Mettenberger got hurt, but he didn’t exactly take the job by the horns this offseason. That left the door wide open for true freshman Brandon Harris, who might not be quite ready for primetime yet, but has a bigger upside than Jennings. The rest of the team will be strong, but the Tigers won’t go anywhere if the quarterback play isn’t effective.
What to watch for on defense: Expect the LSU pass rush to be the LSU pass rush again. It took a little bit, but the defensive front started to get better and better as the season went on, and now it should be ready to rise. Generating 27 sacks wasn’t that bad, but there were only 69 tackles for loss and not nearly enough big things happening behind the line. The Tigers might have lost a ton of talent early to the NFL going into last season, but they’re used to dealing with that. LSU came up with 35 sacks and 91 tackles for loss in 2012, 38 in and 106 tackles for loss 2011, and 34 sacks and 88 tackles for loss in 2010. Danielle Hunter is starting to look like more and more of a pass rushing star in the making at one end, and Jermauria Rasco is going to be special at the other side.
The team will be far better if… the running game really, really rocks. There’s no way the passing game is going to come close to the production of last season, so the slack has to be picked up by a ground attack that did more than its share cranking out over 200 yards a game averaging five yards per carry. Jeremy Hill and his 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns are gone, but it’s LSU – there are more great backs ready to rock. Jennings can take off a bit – if he’s the starting quarterback – and Terrance McGee and Kenny Hilliard are ready to do more, but the dynamic of the offense and the team should be different without Mettenberger bombing away deep. At the very least, the Tigers have to keep up the production.
The Schedule: Wisconsin and LSU play similar styles, only LSU does it with far better athletes. The two will square off in Houston to start the season, and after that there are only two games on the road before mid-November. There's a tough two-game road stretch against Auburn and Florida in early October, but with Mississippi State, Kentucky and Ole Miss at home before getting a week off, there's a chance for a big early start if the Tigers can split with the other Auburn version of the Tigers and the Gators.
It’s a quirky but interesting finishing kick, getting time to prepare in the first week of November for Alabama at home, and that's it for the home games on November 8th. A road trip to Arkansas - always nasty for LSU - is up next, followed by another week off to prepare for a road game at Texas A&M. Overall it's not a bad slate; it'll just take focus and a few big road wins.
Best offensive player: Senior OT La’el Collins.
LSU's starting left tackle would've and could've started this season on
someone's NFL line. It was a bit of a surprise that he decided to come back for his senior year, and while it might not up his stock too much, at the very least he’ll be on the short list of top tackle prospects and All-Americans. The line should be the strength of the team early on with Collins and guard Vadal Alexander dominating the left side, and with rising-star Jerald Hawkins working somewhere on the right. It’s the massive Collins who’ll be the anchor.
Best defensive player: Sophomore CB Tre'Davious White. Ends Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco could turn out to be the team’s most dangerous defenders, and LSU has its normal array of phenomenal defensive back talent with Jalen Mills and Ricky Jefferson to go along with star recruits Jamal Adams, Devin Voorheis and John Battle, but it’s White who has the look of the team’s Next Big DB. Extremely quick with next-level athleticism, he looked fantastic in his first season in the rotation with a team-leading seven broken up passes. Teams are going to start staying away from him on one side.
Key players to a successful season: Freshman QB Brandon Harris.
Of course, he has to get on the field first. Anthony Jennings is very good with the talent and skill to develop into a fantastic SEC quarterback. Harris has the talent and skill to develop into a Heisman contender. He’s not all that huge and could stand to bulk up a little bit, but he has all the dual-threat tools to give LSU a dangerous dimension right out of the box. Jennings can run, too, but if the coaching staff can live through the true freshman mistakes, the payoff could be immense.
The season will be a success if ... LSU makes it three straight ten-win seasons. There’s enough talent and enough potential to do far more, but with so much youth and so many big personnel changes, getting to ten wins would be fantastic. It would also set the bar at national title or bust in 2015. With games away from Death Valley against Wisconsin, Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M, and with home dates against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama, can the Tigers get through with two losses or fewer? If they do, they should be among the four in College Football Playoff.
Key game: Nov. 8 vs. Alabama. The Tigers are going to be as jelled as they’ll ever be by the second weekend of November, and while there will be other big SEC fish to fry before dealing with the Crimson Tide, it’ll be next to impossible to get to Atlanta for a 13th game without coming up with a win. Losers of three in a row in the series and five of the last seven, LSU needs to get the momentum back. Win this, and the expectations for the rest of the year going into the following season gets ramped up to 11.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: LSU 90 for 732 yards – Opponents 69 for 530 yards
- Third Down Conversions: LSU 92-of-161 (57%) – Opponents 72-of-188 (38%)
- Average Yards Per Pass: LSU 10 – Opponents 6.4
- 2014 LSU Preview -
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