There was no wooden horse needed.
The Troy Trojans left their bag of tricks back in Alabama. They didn’t have to use them to beat this LSU team.
The final score will have your skin crawling and your jaw dropping. You’ll want to reach for that handle of Bourbon or grab that case of Bud.
This time, there was no comeback.
A three-touchdown underdog pulled the big upset, and here’s the real problem: It did not feel so surprising — not after watching this team struggle with UT-Chattanooga, lose by 30 points at Mississippi State and limp around against Syracuse last week.
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This one was a com’n, a long time com’n. And we mean a long time (first nonconference home loss since 2000).
So what happened? How’d they do it?
No trickeration needed here. The Trojans got four turnovers and another on downs from an LSU offense that looks nothing like the unit first-year coordinator Matt Canada and first-year coach Ed Orgeron promised this offseason. A young, inexperienced defense is blowing coverages, missing tackles and whiffing on assignments.
And the Tigers haven’t even hit the toughest stretch.
That loss didn't just sting — it was expensive.
That starts next week: at Florida. The game against the Gators begins a torrid stretch of seven consecutive Southeastern Conference games, with four of those on the road — Ole Miss, Alabama and Tennessee. The next home game? That comes against Auburn, a squad that beat MississippiState 49-10 on Saturday. You’ll remember that the Bulldogs beat LSU 37-7.
And, no, the Florida Gators are not world beaters. They barely beat Kentucky and led by a touchdown to Vanderbilt on Saturday with 2 minutes left.
But does it matter?
LSU feel like it is in shambles, and its head coach only added to the intrigue during his post-game news conference. He publicly suggested a disagreement with his offensive coordinator on the game's first play: a carry to Nick Brossette, which the tailback promptly fumbled.
"Wish I could have had that first (play) back. I wanted Darrel to get the ball," Orgeron said. "Our third-string back got the ball. Should have done a better job of game-planning. I was not aware we were going to do that. I think that’s not the way we ought to start the game."
The coach later added that "everything goes through me," and that there's "no pointing the fingers at anybody."
The offense is in a funk.
The Tigers can’t decide on their quarterback, rotating freshman Myles Brennan with senior Danny Etling. Their two most decorated players — running back Derrius Guice and edge rusher Arden Key — have been neutralized. Guice, in fact, missed Saturday’s game while nursing an undisclosed injury (he's missed more than 10 quarters of action this year), and Key is not in game shape, spending several series on the sideline.
The defensive line depth continues to be a problem (no Rashard Lawrence nor Ed Alexander on Saturday), and the offensive line remains a struggling bunch (it needed to start two true freshmen Saturday). That simplification of the offense Orgeron spoke about earlier this week did show up: LSU significantly reduced its pre-snap motions and shifts.
It didn’t work, tight end Foster Moreau said, and the Tigers reverted back to heavy shifting and motions that Canada's offense is all about.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said a change was coming.
When the pressure was on, when LSU needed someone — anyone — to make a play Saturday night i…
Still, this team had its remarkable, nation-leading streak snapped.
LSU had won 49 straight nonconference home games, a run that dates back 17 years.
The last loss came to a team from Alabama, too: UAB in 2000, a loss by another first-year coach (Nick Saban).
And, now, it’s on to Gainesville, Florida, with this young bunch. How young? Very young.
Just three players on this current LSU roster played in the last game in The Swamp in 2014, and 15 players who played in that 2014 team are now on NFL rosters.
Oh yes, this program’s personnel seems oh-so different in just three years.
Like LSU, Florida’s got a myriad of passing game problems, and their QB will be a familiar to this program. Feleipe Frank is expected to start at the position after a season-ending collarbone injury to Luke Del Rio.
You remember Feleipe, right? The 6-foot-6, 215-pound top prospect who was committed to LSU for a whopping 18 months before flipping to Florida six weeks before he enrolled in January 2016.
The burn Franks’ flip left is still on this program. Then offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the staff had to scramble after his de-commitment. They ended up with local three-star product Lindsey Scott, a player who left the team in August after one season in Baton Rouge.
That brings us to that attrition issue.
This team does have built-in excuses: the loss of 12-13 starters, including three first-round NFL draft pick; poor depth, especially on the offensive and defensive lines; and a surge of youth that's been forced into action.
But those are not the sole reasons for the struggles.
"Got to do some soul searching and look at what we’re doing wrong," Orgeron said afterward.
He's dealing with a mess. The Tigers played Saturday without 15 scholarship players, each of them with their own reasons for their absence: injury, suspensions and ineligibility. Three of those are starters (RT Toby Weathersby, F-back JD Moore and Lawrence) and another four to five would be or have been key rotational players this season.
Take for instance, the offensive line. Without Weathersby, the Tigers started two true freshmen on the line for the first time since at least 1986, the school said. Another rookie, Tory Carter, partially replaced Moore’s absence as the Tigers’ key blocker on running plays, and redshirt freshman Glen Logan replaced Lawrence.