Max Johnson was the only LSU player to answer questions on Saturday night. The second-year quarterback stood there, representing the rest of his team, and you could see the frustration on his face after a 42-21 loss.
“It sucks,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to lie. But we just have to come back to work on Monday and get better and work and block out the noise and be ourselves. It’s just us. It’s just our team. We just have to work harder and be better. “
LSU has no other choice. Kentucky has dominated every facet of the game, especially along the line of scrimmage. Now, after two straight losses, LSU hosts Florida’s No.20 next weekend, chasing a streak of ranked opponents.
Each week we review the game to determine what went right or wrong, determine three players in the game, and choose three defining stats. Not much went well in this one. Let’s review.
Remember the missed missions and explosive games that defined LSU’s defense last season? The Tigers had mostly avoided them since their first game in 2021, but they reappeared against Kentucky.
In their first practice, the Wildcats faced a fourth and a goal from the 3-yard line. They called it a friction road. Running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. has infiltrated the apartment, uncovered. The concept is designed for this, but no one on LSU’s defense has pursued it, leaving Rodriguez wide open.
Then Kentucky established their second touchdown with a 34-yard pass to uncovered tight end Justin Rigg, who ran the seam through the area cover. While LSU’s defense didn’t allow another score in the first half, Kentucky continued to throw explosive plays. There was a 32-yard carry. Rodriguez rushed to the middle for 21 yards.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A horse named Time for Trouble competed in the third race at Keeneland here on Saturday.
Eventually, the dam broke. In the opening practice of the second half, with LSU leading 14-0, Rodriguez lined up in a gun set. The Kentucky offensive line sealed the edge of LSU’s defense, one of the receivers came through the lineup to block cornerback Eli Ricks and there was a huge hole for Rodriguez. He gained 22 yards.
The race set the tone for the second half. Two games later, Levis ran to center and made several tackles, carrying 6-foot-6 defensive end Ali Gaye on his back. Once Levis scored on a quarterback, the game looked out of reach at 21-0 with LSU’s offense out of sync. Kentucky continued to run the ball.
The LSU defense had played fairly well as it allowed 210 rushing yards in a season opener loss to UCLA. The one exception was when he struggled to tackle Auburn quarterback Bo Nix last weekend, but Nix has an elusive quality so rare you could almost explain.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fans shook white towels and rode around Kroger Field as fireworks erupted and they chanted “CATS, CATS CATS…
The Tigers didn’t have defensive tackle Joseph Evans or three other defensive starters, so they moved rookie Maason Smith inside on Saturday. But it came down to physicality and technique on the line of scrimmage.
Kentucky beat LSU in both areas, often knocking the Tigers off the ball. They will have to improve. Over the next two weeks, they faced the first two Southeastern Conference ground infractions in Florida and Ole Miss.
The offense tried to find the balance
LSU is clearly committed to handling the ball, a problem in the previous five games. He ended with 35 ground attempts and 38 assists.
The Tigers don’t have to reignite the rushed attack they once had, but they needed to strike a balance in the attack to set up manageable third downs, score from a short distance and put pressure on Johnson by forcing the teams to respect the race.
Although racing games didn’t work out at first, unlike previous games, LSU stuck with their plan. It finally worked in the second half as junior running back Tyrion Davis-Price recorded a record 147 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns.
LSU was in desperate need of a spark, but this time it wasn’t the fault of a lackluster ground game.
The racing patterns were varied. LSU used pistol training with rookie Corey Kiner. He even once lined up in an I-formation on the goal line. The Tigers also pushed the ball away. On Davis-Price’s 30-yard gain – the longest run for LSU this season – left tackle Cam Wire and left guard Ed Ingram walked through the lineup to seal a lane.
The problem for LSU ended up being his passing game, which had been a strength all year. Johnson looked unstable in the pocket as Kentucky sent him back four times, including once during opening practice to force a fumble. He also struggled with accuracy, completing 58% of his passes for 261 yards and a touchdown.
LSU hadn’t lost a game since 2018 rushing over 100 yards. The key for the future will be to marry both running and passing attacks to create a dynamic attack. But everyone will be holding their breath until they know the status of second wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who left the game on a cart in the fourth quarter.
Three key statistics:
Kentucky ran for 330 yards on 45 carries, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.
1 for 5
LSU attempted five fourth down conversions as he tried to hold the records. He made one.
Kentucky recorded nine tackles for a loss, including four sacks, as they controlled the line of scrimmage. LSU had a bag.
Chris Rodriguez Jr.
The Kentucky starting running back finished with 147 yards on 16 carries, averaging 9.2 yards per carry. He scored two touchdowns in total.
Kentucky Offensive Line
Someone must have opened some holes for Rodriguez and the other running backs. Kentucky’s offensive line has consistently won at the point of attack.
The LSU junior running back played his best game of the year. Davis-Price racked up 147 yards and two touchdowns, making him the first LSU player to exceed 100 rushing yards this season.