Welcome to Film Room, where we'll break down significant portions from LSU's last football game.
(Click to enlarge photos)
Mississippi State 44, LSU 34
How It Happened
'DBU didn't show up today': The LSU Tigers surrendered 623 passing yards, the most ever given up in school history. Stanford graduate transfer K.J. Costello's yardage set the SEC single-game record, and the Mississippi State slinger was lethal in Bulldogs coach Mike Leach's notorious Air Raid passing attack.
LSU's secondary was saddled with several personnel setbacks, which we'll note later on, but coach Ed Orgeron and safety JaCoby Stevens both said after the loss that the excuses only go so far. Some of the mistakes were schematic, Orgeron said. LSU was debuting its 4-3 base defense under coordinator Bo Pelini, back for the second time in his coaching career. There were assignment lapses. Losses in man-to-man battles. In short, Orgeron said: "We couldn't stay with their guys."
"It's embarrassing," Stevens said after the game. "It's like going into a boxing ring and getting knocked out. It's not a good feeling. Yeah, we do pride ourselves on being DBU, but DBU didn't show up today."
LSU dropped to No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 after its 44-34 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday.
- On second-and-7 at the MSU 37, Nicholls State grad transfer Darren Evans is lined up in man coverage with Bulldogs receiver Osirus Mitchell. An inside tunnel screen is called, and right tackle Kwatrivous Johnson picks Evans, creating a free running lane for Mitchell. Right guard Dareuan Parker is already downfield and blocks safety Todd Harris. "When you play man coverage," CBS analyst Gary Danielson said, "if you're a receiver and you can get to one other guy, not the guy covering you, you end up blocking two people. Beautifully run."
- Costello attacked the Evans-Mitchell matchup again later that drive, converting a third-and-13 attempt at the LSU 44. Mitchell drifted toward the sideline, then cut inside Evans, catching a 25-yard reception to the LSU 19. The catch stet up a 35-yard field goal, the first points of the game, but it also foreshadows Mississippi State's dedication to exploiting man-to-man coverage with favorable matchups.
- Mississippi State's use of rub routes, where defenders are picked by other receivers, continued to be effective. Here, on a first-and-10 at the MSU 16 in the second quarter, Bulldogs receiver JaVonta Payton's contact with LSU corner Eli Ricks is enough to force safety Cordale Flott to hesitate. By the time Payton accelerates downfield, Flott loses his footing and can't catch up in time to contest the jump ball and 27-yard reception. Later in the drive, Payton is flipped to the opposite side of the field, facing Evans, and, after getting a step ahead on the sideline, Payton dropped a pass that would've been a 20-plus yard reception. An errant snap that bounces off Costello's facemask results in a turnover and break for LSU.
After Tiger Stadium emptied, after the field had cleared, after the hopes of another undefeated LSU football season crumbled under a 44-34 los…
- LSU's first score of the season was a defensive touchdown, a pick six by linebacker Jabril Cox. On Mississippi State's fifth drive of the game, Costello was facing a third-and-10 at his own 9. LSU's secondary executes their assignments effectively on this pass play. Cox (in red) and safety Jay Ward (in yellow) almost get tied up on the same receiver. But once Austin Williams cuts inside, Cox takes over, recovers and undercuts Costello's pass for a 14-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave LSU a 7-3 lead. It was one of the few bright spots of the day for LSU's defense. "I thought he was all over the football field," Orgeron said of Cox.
- LSU's depth in the secondary was already slim. Starting nickel safety Kary Vincent opted out in preseason camp. Then All-American cornerback Derek Stingley spent Friday night in a hospital with an acute illness. They couldn't afford any injuries. But in the second quarter, Flott missed a few plays after laying out on an incompletion, which brought Evans back into a one-on-one matchup with Tyrell Shavers. Shavers shook Evans with a double-move at the line of scrimmage, Evans never recovered, and Shavers caught a 31-yard touchdown to give Mississippi State a 10-7 lead. An LSU secondary with transfers and true freshman had to grow up quickly. "Welcome to the SEC," Orgeron said after the game. "You've got to get better. This is elite. You've got to win your one-on-ones."
Time and time again this crazy, bizarro world of an offseason, Ed Orgeron growled “Next man up!” and “We don’t blink!” as the questions about …
- Then, Mississippi State started confound LSU's man coverage with crossing patterns. On third-and-11 at the LSU 43, Mitchell starts off one-on-one with Ricks on the right side of the field. After the snap, Mitchell crosses the field about three yards deep. Bulldogs receiver Jaden Wally, crossing from the left side, rubs past Ricks, and Mitchell was then open on the left side of the field. Costello lobbed a pass over a leaping Ricks, and Mitchell sprinted for a 43-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 17-14 lead.
- Mitchell's touchdown catch set up this next play. Ricks is lined up in front of Tyrell Shavers on the right side of the field. Shavers does the same cross pattern toward the left side of the field. Austin Williams is also creating the same look, crossing from the other side on a rub route. The idea seems to be to draw Ricks inside again toward Shavers. This time, Payton (red line) motions across the field in a wheel route behind Ricks on the right sideline. The familiar pattern seems to briefly pause Ricks, which was enough for the speedy Payton to gain separation on the 33-yard reception to the LSU 39. The crossing pattern continued to bite on this drive. Payton outran Ward on a left-to-right, 34-yard reception to the LSU 5. The Tigers tightened on the goal line, and a 24-yard field goal gave Mississippi State a 20-17 lead with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
- LSU's offense awakened in the second half, and the Tigers led 27-24 in the middle of the third quarter. This is when a costly busted play occurred: Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill was left wide open in the flat and turned a short swing pass into a 75-yard touchdown. It is uncertain exactly what went wrong on the play, but it appears there may have been a mix-up in the pass rush. Ricks (red left), Flott (red right) and Cox (yellow) are all matched up with the receivers across from them. Harris (green arrow) moves back to cover the deep part of the field. LSU's three down linemen all rush. So do Stevens (blue left), linebacker Damone Clark (blue middle) and Ward (blue right). It appears Ward's rush was a called blitz, because safety Mo Hampton (purple) picks up Ward's receiver. No player is left to cover Hill in the flat, and he is left wide open. Perhaps Clark or Ward got sucked into the backfield. Perhaps it was an untimely blitz. Orgeron said the busted play, among others, may lead LSU to play more zone coverage in the future. "Somebody's supposed to take the back out of the backfield and they didn't take him," Orgeron said. "We had too many missed assignments, and we've got to look at why we're having the missed assignments, what's causing them. Too many guys are running free. Too many guys are getting beat one-on-one. We've just got to go back to looking at if we can cover man-to-man. If we can't, we've got to make a decision to play some zone."
In a season that took an unprecedented effort to even begin, the LSU Tigers failed to deliver when the crucial moments finally arrived.
- Hill caught another open pass in the flat in the fourth quarter, when, tied at 34, LSU needed a stop. Hill's 18-yard catch began a 7-play, 50-yard drive that set up the go-ahead 43-yard field goal. LSU needed another stop after its offense went three-and-out, and another crossing route broke the game open (pictured right). On second-and-10 at the Bulldogs 48, Mitchell took a short, right-to-left crossing route 27 yards to the LSU 25. Two plays later, Mitchell caught a 24-yard touchdown on a right sideline fade to put the game away.
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