Ed. Note: I’m typing these notes as I watch the game. I normally write this after the game, but there’s no way I can get this done and get to work at a decent time. Thus, these are, more or less, in chronological order.
1. Offensive Line Woes. The offensive line is struggling big time with the stunts that LSU is throwing at them and QB Patrick Mahomes is running for his life on nearly every play. It wasn’t anything incredibly exotic, but there were times that the offensive line looked like they were just standing in concrete and completely unsure as to who to block. the result is causing Mahomes to scramble on each and every play and he hardly has any time to set his feet and make a play with his arm.
2. Little Room for Washington. The LSU defense was on point in finding DeAndre Washington and they seemed all but determined to not allow Washington to go off like he had against Texas and Kansas State. This, without question, was probably the best thing that LSU did for the first half on defense. By stunting the defensive linemen and allowing the incredibly fast linebackers for LSU to fill the gaps or make sure and find Washington on any and all screen passes. Washington shook free late that helped on the second scoring drive, but for the most part, he was bottled up in the first half.
3. An Actual Three and Out. I was probably as surprised as most of you as LSU actually had a three and out with less than 4 minutes left in the half. It was one of those times where LSU was probably trying to get too cute with Harris at quarterback. On third and two, LSU decides to throw the ball 20 yards down the field. It was a critical play for LSU because they could have ended the half with a possible score and they would have received the ball first in the second half. The Tigers really did have an opportunity to put Texas Tech down by three touchdowns (or so) and that would have been incredibly tough to come back from for a Texas Tech offense that was struggling to consistently gain some yards. Even then, I thought that the defense actually played fairly well, all things considered. Maybe I should write that I was expecting much worse in terms of what LSU might do offensively, but I was also expecting the Texas Tech offense to be better. Fournette had two huge plays. It has always been the second half that’s been problematic for the Texas Tech defense as the team wears down.
4. Done With the Script. I’m not sure what it was, but it almost seemed that Kingsbury needed to be done with the script and just call plays in a flow. Not only did the offense need to be in a flow, but I thought Kingsbury needed to get in a flow as well. The offense really didn’t get going until the third drive of the game. The key to that drive was a huge third down conversion where Mahomes let the ball fly on third and 10 for a 46 yard touchdown to Jakeem Grant.
I’d also add that one of the huge problems early on was the dropped passes. It seemed that there were times that the ball hit the receivers’ hands and just whiffed. not every pass was perfect in the first half, but there were a lot of drops.
Texas Tech’s best drive was darn near flawless, the sixth drive of the first half. Washington shakes free for 22 yards. Mahomes scrambles for a first down and once the tempo gets going, Cameron Batson catches at slant pass, while Jakeem Grant catches a screen pass and LSU is a bit out of sorts. The touchdown comes on another screen pass where Grant goes one-on-one with a LSU defensive back and Grant has just too much space and scores easily.
5. Turnover Swing. LSU is getting cute again. I think, LSU tries to throw the ball on first and second down, forcing a third and ten. Harris goes back to throw the ball and goes over the middle to the tight end and Dakota Allen, the redshirt freshman linebacker from Houston, goes for the ball and not the tackle and makes the danged play. With Texas Tech getting the ball back with good field position, it looked like things weren’t going to go Texas Tech’s way as a flea flicker went awry and Mahomes tried to connect to Reginald Davis with Davis dropping the ball on would have given Texas Tech third and three. But now, Mahomes is facing third and ten and of all things, an LSU defender jumps offsides giving Texas Tech a free play. The LSU defense looks like they are standing still a bit and Mahomes goes deep to Davis, even though he just dropped the pass. It was a beautiful pass and Davis made a play on the ball.
6. A Bad Bounce. Things start to go downhill for Texas Tech when Texas Tech has the ball at their own 16 yard line. A Mahomes pass to Tony Brown ends up bouncing off of the LSU defensive back and LSU gets a turnover. At this point, Texas Tech was only down by 8 points, 28-20 and Texas Tech was driving again. That drive saw Texas Tech complete a huge pass from Mahomes to Washington on a Mahomes scramble and Mahomes escapes again to complete the ball to Washington for yet another big gain. Mahomes to Pearson drives the ball to the 16 and it looks like Texas Tech is about to get within a score of LSU, either with a touchdown or a field goal. But that interception ends up being a 14 point turn for LSU. LSU continues to throw the ball when it seems they should just be running Fournette, but Texas Tech is actually playing the run fairly well. There are two huge pass plays, the first on Nigel Bethel and the second on Tevin Madison. Both go for 40 yards or so. The result is LSU getting the ball on the 6 or so hard line and Fournette scores easily.
Texas Tech gets the ball back and Emeka Okafor is simply abused on the right side, allowing Mahomes to get sacked twice and Texas Tech goes three and out.
LSU gets the ball back and LSU is intentionally slowing things down (injuries or otherwise). LSU ends up scoring on a quarterback keeper for 26 yards. That puts up LSU 42-20 on Texas Tech.
7. Feeling the Heat. It is obvious that Texas Tech has to get a touchdown and Mahomes continues to run for his life. A Justin Stockton play ends up losing a ton of yards and Texas Tech can’t complete 3rd and 14. As mentioned above, Texas Tech has to score otherwise, it’s church. It’s now 4th and 14 and Mahomes makes another incredible play. Throwing across his body for the 1,000th time during this game, Mahomes finds Grant for another huge play for the first down. Mahomes and Grant connect again, on a similar play for Grant as he shakes an LSU defender out of his shoes — “I’m sorry, I shook you.”
8. Mahomes Makes a Statement. As rough as this game was, QB Patrick Mahomes finished the year with over 5,000 total yards and he made the most spectacular plays during the game. Obviously, LSU was the better team, but Mahomes announced that he can play in front of a national audience and he can make something out of almost nothing. With the offensive line having one of their worst performances of the year, Mahomes had to scramble and make plays. There weren’t enough plays, but I still felt that Mahomes was the best player on the field. He did more with less than anyone on LSU’s team. Being the best player doesn’t mean that Texas Tech gets to win the game and it’s clear that there just aren’t enough play-makers on the team. Jakeem Grant is an absolute joy and DeAndre Washington was solid almost each and every game (except this one), but we again see that other than the pass to Davis for the touchdown, there just isn’t enough playmakers on the outside. If Mahomes has just a few more weapons, there’s no telling what he’ll be able to do (and have an offensive line that will block some folks).
9. The Defense Eventually Caved. The defense did have a good effort, at least that’s how it felt for most of the game. LSU ended up putting up over 50 points and rushing for a ton of yards, but it didn’t feel like an absolute thrashing. Still, the defense was exposed and they eventually caved after having a pretty productive first half. Just not enough playmakers and not enough depth. That’s been the calling card of the defense for pretty much the entire game.
10. Next Year. At the end of the game, the announcers were talking about what it would take to win next year, maybe winning 6 games all year. There’s part of me that has to decompress a bit after the season being over. I have no idea what that might be and there’s so much that’s to be determined, from the defensive coaches to be hired to the players that fill the shoes to the improvement of the players that are pretty young, like Bethel, Fehoko, Allen and Hinton. There are some building blocks here, but those defensive coach hires are incredibly important. There’s a lot to happen before next year even happens.
- AdvoCare apparently makes you do some really awesome things. Lift weights. Do handstands. Pull-ups using incredibly poor form. Climb mountains. Back flips. Yoga. Skateboarding. Jumping on top of tires. All sorts of stuff.
- LSU has a receiver named Malichi and I think I am forever scarred by the name Malichi as a result of the horror movie, Children of the Corn. I’m almost positive that was the name of one of the characters and I’m afraid to have Children of the Corn on my search history. That movie haunted me for years.
- Justis Nelson had a rough day at cornerback as did Tevin Madison. I think Nelson missed on a couple of tackles early while Madison continues to struggle keeping up with receivers deep. He’s just not fast enough. He competes, but he just can’t keep up. I feel like Nelson has similar issues. He just doesn’t make enough plays. I don’t know who will play cornerback next year, but there has to be an upgrade at this position.
- I do want to be perfectly clear here. I’m not disappointed in DeAndre Washington, but I am disappointed for him. He never got free and it would have been absolutely incredible for Washington to be able to have a terrific game to cap what was a terrific year and career for Washington.