The Monday After: LSU needs to find a way to finish

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The theme of this season has to do with finishing, the LSU Tigers have shown the inability to finish out games. After the first month of the season the Tigers found themselves 3-1. Everything was still in front of them despite an early embarrassment against the UCLA Bruins.

When the calendar changed to October, the wheels started to come off for LSU. They lost at home to Auburn, something that hasn’t happened since 1999. In that game they held the lead but couldn’t find a way to finish the game. Instead they relied on four Cade York field goals to be their offense, the last coming with 3:26 to go in the third quarter. Auburn scored 14 in the final 18 minutes of the game to win. The LSU offense finished with three punts and an interception to lose 24-19.

The very next week it was Kentucky, not much you can say about that game because the Wildcats did whatever they wanted in that game. The team didn’t look prepared for what Mark Stoops’ team was going to do. Then the Florida game happened, and as we have seen the Gators haven’t looked the same since the Alabama game. Ole Miss completely shut down the offense and only allowed LSU to score 10 points late in the game with backup quarterback Garrett Nussmeier.

The open date couldn’t have come at a better time due to the fact that this team was reeling. Losers in three of the last four games, and could have been four straight if a play or two goes the other way. Just the way things go in the game of college football.

When Ed Orgeron and company rolled into Tuscaloosa, everyone expected the Crimson Tide to blow them out. It didn’t happen. In fact LSU had a real opportunity to win that game. They led 7-0 for most of the first half, it wasn’t until Max Johnson turned the ball over twice that allowed Alabama to take control of the scoreboard. In the third quarter the Tigers trailed 20-7 after really making life difficult on Bryce Young and the Tide.

It was a 14-play 89-yard drive by the offense that got LSU back in it. The drive capped off by a Max Johnson to Jack Bech 8-yard touchdown throw. The Tigers were down just six points and you had to like their chances based on how the defense was playing. In the final seven minutes of the game LSU had the ball on three different drives. Two of which ended with a pass into the endzone that wasn’t caught. They just couldn’t finish against the Tide.

The failings in the Arkansas game are well documented. After two drives that resulted in two punts where the offense had 13 snaps and 39 yards, Johnson was pulled in favor of Garrett Nussmeier. It paid immediate dividends as he led the team on back-to-back scoring drives to take the lead at 10-3. The next six drives were anything but successful. Punt, fumble, punt, punt, missed field goal, interception. The team couldn’t finish and it allowed the Hogs back into the game.

The offense would tie the game up in the fourth quarter, where it would remain until halftime. Nussmeier and the offense held possession of the ball for 10:55 of the final quarter. Time of possession clearly in their favor but they could only muster those three points at the beginning of the final quarter. LSU would turn the ball over on downs at the Arkansas 38-yard line and then punt with just 0:17 left in the game. In overtime Nussmeier was intercepted in the end zone and Cam Little sent everyone home on a 29-yard field goal.

The problems with this team go so far beyond the quarterback play. They don’t have a full compliment of their offensive line. Receivers don’t do enough to get open. The playcalling is atrocious. There is a stench on the offensive side of the ball that likely won’t get better until they rid themselves of Ed Orgeron, Jake Peetz, and DJ Mangas.

They could still win the final two games and get to bowl season. At this point, do you trust them?