By Casey Gisclair
Well, things have quickly gone from bad to worse and suddenly, we’re nearing what feels like the end of Les Miles’ time in Baton Rouge.
A promising 7-0 start to the LSU football season has been completely railroaded by three-straight losses against division rivals.
The Tigers aren’t particularly good in any phase right now and their 7-3 record feels awfully generous because this doesn’t look like a seven-win football team right now.
Records aside, Saturday’s game should be a pretty good one because it pits LSU against John Chavis’ Texas A&M Aggies defense – Chief’s first return to Baton Rouge since taking the defensive coordinator job in College Station last winter.
LSU OFFENSE vs. TEXAS A&M DEFENSE
Saturday’s game was really frustrating for LSU fans. The Tigers had so much success moving the football, but just would continually find ways to stall out of drives with boneheaded penalties or unforced errors. LSU finally mixed some spread offense into its archaic playbook and it worked to the tune of 500 yards of total offense.
Brandon Harris still has a ways to go to be an elite-level SEC quarterback, but he did a few nice things against the Rebels. The Tigers’ beat up offensive line fared pretty well and looks to be back to playing OK, as well. The Tiger will need it because Texas A&M can hit you with flurries at the line of scrimmage.
The Aggies aren’t the best defensive team in the history of the sport, but they can make big plays. Myles Garrett is a monster rushing off that edge with 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. His counterpart Daeshon Hall isn’t too shabby, either with seven sacks and 12.5 stops for a loss.
In the linebacker corps, it will be Armani Watts meeting Leonard Fournette head-on most often in the holes. Watts has 105 stops this year. The Aggies are better on defense in Chavis’ first year as coordinator, but they’re still not all of the way there.
LSU DEFENSE vs. TEXAS A&M OFFENSE
Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen does not get the credit he deserves. Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin has tried to force freshman quarterback Kyler Murray onto opposing defenses throughout the season even though he’s not a good passer at all. Allen hasn’t pouted, nor been ineffective, tossing 16 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions on the season.
For all of the attention the quarterbacks get, it’s the Aggies running game that makes the offense complete. Tra Carson is a heck of a player, already owning more than 1,000 yards on the season. When he on, the Texas A&M offense is successful. That sounds like bad news when one considers that the LSU defense is pretty wretched and can’t stop very many offenses right now around the country.
The Kevin Steele experiment was working out OK when facing backups and inferior opponents, but since having to do combat with a few legitimate SEC-level starting quarterbacks, things haven’t been the same.
The defensive line is too small and lacks depth. The linebackers are not good at taking pursuit angles to the ball and the secondary is just awful. What happened to Tre’Davious White? Is there any player in the country who has hurt his NFL Draft stock this season more than that guy?
Advantage: TEXAS A&M
If I’m going to bash the Tigers’ special teams when they’re down, I have to give them credit when they’re up, right?
The LSU special teams group was surprisingly competent on Saturday, doing a decent job limiting the Ole Miss return game and flipping the field with a few nice, booming punts as well. Of course, the Tigers missed a short, chip shot field goal, but we can’t get too greedy when dealing with this unit, which has been largely inept all season.
Against the Aggies, danger will be afoot in a big way. Texas A&M return man Christian Kirk is a good one, already has two punt returns for touchdowns this year. The Aggies kicking situation is very legitimate, with punter Drew Kaser averaging a ridiculous 47.45-yards per punt and kicker Taylor Bertolet owning a career long of 55-yards out.
Advantage: TEXAS A&M
I don’t think LSU quit on Les Miles or played uninspired football on Saturday. That’s lazy fodder for click-bait. Teams who quit don’t get 500 yards of total offense like the Tigers did on Saturday.
LSU lost by three touchdowns because it is a bad football team that is penalty-bitten and susceptible to giving up big plays. At home and against a team equally troubled, LSU gets its eighth win and ends the season on a high note.
LSU 38, Texas A&M 31