The LSU Tigers were humbled by Saturday’s 40-13 loss to the No. 8-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. It was the loss inside Tiger Stadium to a non-Alabama opponent since 2001.
1) WHERE IS THE RACING GAME?
LSU struggled to lead the football against Tennessee as the Tigers were held to just 55 yards, averaging 2.0 yards per carry.
In six games, the Tigers rushed for 1,035 yards, averaging 172.5 yards per game and 4.7 yards per rush attempt. This ranks seventh in the SEC in three different categories: total rushing yards, rushing yards per game, and rushing yards per attempt.
That’s not the norm for a program that has a long history of dynamic running backs in the backfield. Even in the off years, LSU has always found a way to feature a 1,000-yard running back like Nick Brossette in 2018 and Ty Davis-Price in 2021.
It doesn’t look like that will happen in 2022.
LSU’s top rusher in attempts and yards is quarterback Jayden Daniels. Running backs Armoni Goodwin, Noah Cain, John Emery Jr. and Josh Williams combined 135 carries for 637 yards, which is a healthy average of 4.7 yards per carry but only 106.1 yards per game.
The problem is that the offensive line has trouble blocking, which has forced LSU to abandon traditional play earlier in games due to being late or simply choosing to depend on Daniels for yards with his legs. .
In turn, this makes Tigers a one-dimensional offense and easier to counter.
2) SPECIAL TEAMS ON THE BATTLE BUS
Errors on special teams were critical on Saturday.
Jack Bech fumbling the opening kickoff brought back memories of the season-opening loss to Florida State. Malik Nabers had two fumbles on returns in that game. The difference is that unlike Nabers’ fumbles, Bech’s error led to an easy touchdown in Tennessee.
Four different players returned kickoffs, but none of them returned a kick from more than 23 yards. If you combine punt and kickoff returns, LSU is averaging just 11.85 yards per return while opponents are averaging 19.04.
Giving the opponent short fields isn’t the only problem with LSU’s special teams this season.
Damian Ramos was hit and miss as he went 3 for 5, all from 30 to 39 yards, with a length of 36 yards. Ramos is 23 of 24 with extra points and has a blocked placement.
Special teams must be cleaned and cleaned quickly.
3) DEPTH OF TALENTS
The biggest takeaway from Saturday’s game is that LSU — at the moment — doesn’t have the talent to compete with the top teams in the SEC.
It’s not that they don’t have talented players, but they don’t have enough. Depth is the biggest problem with Brian Kelly’s team right now. The LSU coach simply doesn’t have enough talented players in all positions.
When you’re forced to not play but throw Florida International and McNeese players in key spots, it won’t do the job against the top teams in the SEC.
It will take time for Kelly to improve the roster but it will take a few seasons.