GAME BLOG: LSU vs. Mississippi State
FINAL: LSU 37, Mississippi State 17
Editor’s note: Gamer by Hunt Palmer. Pregame by Cody Worsham. Blog by Cody Worsham and Richard Fischer.
For a program built on a power rushing attack and a tenacious defense, LSU sure aquitted itself well when those two departments soured Saturday night.
Mississippi State rolled up 351 total yards. LSU ran for just three yards per carry.
It didn’t matter.
Junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger furthered the momentum he gained a week earlier in a losing cause against Alabama, throwing for 273 yards on 19 of 30 attempts including a pair of touchdowns.
His favorite target, sophomore wide receiver Jarvis Landry accounted for nine of those catches for a career best 109 yards and a score, his second in as many weeks.
“We are very confident,” Landry said after the game. “A lot of the guys on offense feel like we got that swag back. That’s something we really want to embrace, let it cary over from the Alabama game and show the world that we can be an effective offense.”
The offense proved its mettle against the Alabama Crimson Tide a week earlier, but it was evident early that another strong performance would be necessary.
Facing a, 7-3, deficit the offense took to the air.
Mettenberger marched the Tigers 67 yards, 48 via the pass, down to the Bulldog seven where Drew Alleman drilled the first of his three attempts to whittle the lead down to three.
LSU’s Lamin Barrow pounced on a mishandled toss from Tyler Russell to Derrick Milton, LSU was in business at the Bulldog 21.
Three plays later Mettenber found Landry for a 19 yard scoring strike to give the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish.
State did move the ball into field goal range with about a minute to play in the first half but commited a holding penalty that would have moved them out of striking distance on a 3rd down. LSU Head Coach Les miles declined the penalty, electing to let Devon Bell try the 47 yarder which he drilled to trim the lead to three.
That’s when LSU deviated from its identity once again.
Miles unleashed Mettenberger with 48 ticks remaing before the half, and his signal caller responded, completing three of four passes to move the ball 71 yards in 40 seconds, culminating in a gorgeous lob to a diving Spencer Ware in the north endzone.
“That was defninatly a momentum changer for us,” Landry, who made the first catch of the drive, said. “It’s one of those things that we worked on all week. We took advantage of it.”
Just when it looked like the Tigers had a strangle hold on the lead, they gave the momentum right back as sophomore wide receiver Odell Beckham misplayed a punt giving the Bulldogs the ball at the LSU 29.
Two Russell passes later, State had cut the lead to three, 20-17.
Alleman’s third and final field goal of the night nudged the lead forward, but it was J.C. Copeland’s one-yard plunge on the ensuing drive that balloned it.
Nursing a two touchdown lead, LSU backed off on defesne and finally came up with the knockout blow when junior safety Craig Loston picked off Rusell with just over a minutes remaining and exploded 100 yards for a touchdown.
“The question was whether this football team would come to play7 after playing an emotional game a wek ago,” Miles said. “There is not any question that they were. There is a fundamental feeling in this stadium and in our football team that we are just catching speed. We are not going to sacrifice our movement and our improvement based on the fact that we played a tough game.”
Below is Cody and Richard’s chronological game blog.
Nine games into the season, it almost feels like starting over for LSU.
Last week’s heartbreaking loss in the final seconds against Alabama forced the Tigers (7-2, 3-2) to reassess their goals for the 2012 season.
Barring a series of improbable events that would make 2007 seem normal, the Tigers are out of the mix for divisional, conference, and national title chases.
So how do the Tigers get up for a 6 p.m. kickoff against No. 21 Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2)?
They’ll have to start by changing their goals. At No. 7, LSU is still very much in the mix for a BCS bowl berth, so that becomes the Tigers’ primary objective in the final three games of the season. A loss tonight would all but end that hope, however.
The Tigers won’t look for that to happen. State is coming off of a pair of losses to Alabama and Texas A&M after a 7-0 start, and breaking that streak will be difficult in Tiger Stadium.
Look to see how Zach Mettenberger builds on last week’s breakout 24-of-35, 296-yard, 1 TD performance against the nation’s top defense. State, led by cornerback Johnthan Banks, has been able to intercept its fair share of passes this season, so that’ll be something to keep an eye on.
But look for LSU to establish the run early. Jeremy Hill has three straight games over 100 yards, and he’ll want to tie Justin Vincent’s four-straight in 2003 as a freshman record. It’ll help his cause that the Bulldogs allow over 168 yards per game on the ground, 11th in the SEC.
State can run the ball, too, though, with running back LaDarius Perkins rolling in the top-three among conference ball-carriers. In State’s two losses combined, however, he’s failed to reach his season average of 89.3 yards, with efforts of 42 yards and 38 yards over the last two weeks.
Whoever wins the battle on the ground early should take control of this game, but will LSU come out flat a week after losing the game everyone had circled on their calendars?
Only time will tell.
5:21 p.m. update
We’re still about 42 minutes from kickoff, and all eyes are on Texas A&M and Alabama, who are going down to the wire.
In Tiger Stadium, there’s a bit of news in the starting lineups. Trai Turner will remain the starter at right guard, but Josh Williford, whom Miles said would play against Alabama last week, isn’t even in the two-deep provided in the press box. Williford doesn’t appear to be in the warm ups with the linemen, either, so we’ll be sure to check on that after the game.
Hurst’s name is no longer even on LSU’s roster, so he’s obviously off of the team. Williford is still in the 85-man, however.
Mississippi State 7, LSU 3
First drive: Your expected starters of Boone, Copeland, Clement, OBJ get the go. Hill starts at RB again. No surprise as Landry is the next WR. Dickson checks in on a two-WR set on a pass play. Shepard comes in to play RB before the Tigers call time out. A sack and strip of Mett (recovered by LSU) kills the Tiger drive and they must punt.
Second drive: Tigers run two straigt pitches to Shepard for a first down. A total of 15 yards on the rushes. Wright makes his first appearance at WR this drive. As does RB Spencer Ware. Landry makes a tremendous diving catch for six yards on a third and four to keep the drive alive. Then Hill coverts a third and two on a power to the left side. Then LSU goes conservative on its next third down and settles for a 29-yard Alleman FG.
The starters are as usual, except Lavar Edwards gets the homecoming start over Sam Montgomery. Craig Loston is good to go in the secondary.
Jalen Collins comes on for Lamar Louis on the second play.
On the second play from scrimmage, Tyler Russell finds Chris Smith in a soft area of the LSU zone, and Smith gets 20 yards. No pressure from LSU’s front. Nick Griffin nearly busted another on the next play, but his five-yard run was chopped by a saving tackle from Craig Loston, who beat multiple blockers to make the stop. On third and five, Russell avoided pressure from Edwards and found Robert Johnson in LSU’s Cover 3 zone.
That brings on Sam Mongtomery in the new set of downs. LSU stays in zone, and Russell finds Chad Bumphis for another first down. Not enough pressure from the LSU front, and Russell’s had time to pick apart the zone. And when LSU goes into man, Russell finds Arceto Clark for a 14-yard completion over the middle against Collins.
Note that LaDarius Perkins, the SEC’s third-leading rusher, is out from the start with an ankle issue.
2nd and 1 from the 13, and Griffin sets up first and goal with a gain of four. Barrow on the stop. On the following first down, LSU had a busted coverage, as Jalen Mills tried to run across to the other side of the defensive formation, but Eric Reid stopped him. Perhaps Reid shouldn’t have, because Dak Prescott, State’s backup QB, came in for a snap and found a wide open Marcus Green for the score with 6:41 left. Terrible start for the LSU defense, who allowed State’s QBs to combine for 6-of-7 passes and 69 yards on the drive.
In all, State went 74 yards on 10 plays and used 4:43 in LSU’s only defensive drive of the quarter.
The Bulldogs did get one play on their second drive in the first quarter, as Edwards and Montgomery get the nods at d-end.
Special Teams Notes
Wing’s first punt is sky high but it goes just 29 yards.
Ford brings a kick back past the LSU 40. Nice burst of speed, but one more cut might have brought him all the way.
Alleman makes a 29-yard FG.
2nd quarter: LSU 13, MSU 10
Third drive: Mett continues to be sharp and Tigers continue to move the chains on third down. Tigers pound it to Ware for a first down on third and short. Then Mett hits Landry for 10 yards on third and four. Following a 12-yard Ware rush up the middle through a big hole, the drive stalls on a nice punch by McKinney defending Landry in the end zone. Alleman makes a 26-yarder.
Fourth drive: Tigers get the ball in scoring position following a State miscue. Mett hits Landry for a 19-yard touchdown strike over the middle on third down.
Fifth drive: With 48 seconds to go till half, LSU stays aggressive. Passes to Landry and Wright get the Tigers in scoring position. Then he hits Ware for a 20-yard TD pass on a wheel route. The Tigers are 6-for-9 on third down tonight, and Mett has completed 12-of-18 passes for 174 yards. He’s kept up his tremendous play from last week. LSU’s offense has been nothing like lethargic in the first half. In your face Richard Fischer.
Second drive: Eric Reid ends the first quarter with a big hit, and Minter trips up Griffin to force third down.
Still no Anthony Johnson sighting. Downs and Logan have manned the tackles all night. Mingo stuffs Jackson on third down to force a Bulldog punt.
Third drive: Ronald Martin comes in for Loston, as usual on LSU’s third defensive drives. Freak is in too and provides immediate pressure, but Russell evades and finds Johnson for 24 yards. Martin on the stop. On first and 10 from the 39, Derrick Milton fumbles a pitch from Russell, and Barrow recovers at the State 21.
Fourth drive: Martin stays on the field, and LSU starts in the nickel. Freak and Logan at the tackles, Sam and Mingo at end. Russell does the ever-rare first down QB sneak and gets 16. Nice call to catch LSU’s front four off balance. Johnson is getting good jumps, but State is neutralizing him with draws, and guard Tobias Smith is using Johnson’s penetration against him. Bumphis gets matched up with Martin in the slot for a big gain. That’s a mismatch.
State continues to neutralize LSU’s front four with quick patterns and draws. LSU can’t pressure Russell effectively. They’ll have to win this game in coverage.
Second and four from the LSU 26, and Minter reads a screen like a book, dropping Griffin for a loss of four. On the next play, Minter pressures Russell into a bad throw. So much for needing coverage to get stops. Miles declines a State holding call that would have put them out of FG range, and Devon Bell nails a 46-yarder into a headwind to make it 13-10 with 48 seconds left in the half.
Special teams notes
Lamar Louis scares the hell out of Tiger Stadium faithful by diving on a State punt and apparently muffing but, but it hit a State player first. Either way, no reason to dive on it if you’re not gonna pick it up and run. No harm done, but it was sure scary in case the officials didn’t see that it hit a State player first.
Alleman drills a 26 yarder
3rd Quarter: LSU 30, MSU 17
Sixth drive: Mett looks off the defenders and gets another first down completion to OBJ. Then, Hilliard finally gets his first rush and rumbles up the middle for 12 yards. 12 more on a nice middle screen to Ware. Autry penetration forces a third and long, and Mett can’t connect with Boone in the end zone. Nice recovery to break it up and force a FG attempt by State’s Slay.
Seventh drive: Tigers continue their efficiency offensively. Mett and OBJ make something out of nothing as he throws on a run accurately. Something we weren’t sure Mett could do. Then he hits OBJ on a screen bolstered by a Landry pancake block. He then hits Landry at the marker on a third and seven for another third down completion. He then hits Ford on a screen with State blitzing to the Bulldog four. Looked very similar to last week’s screen to Yeldon. Tigers pound it to Hill twice and get to the one before Copeland finishes the job and scores. Dillon Gordon was a goal line TE on the play.
Fifth drive: Starters take the field, including Louis, who has been on the bench most of the night for Collins in the nickel. LSU forces third and 7 and brings on the Mustang package, with Micah Eugene getting his first snap of the night. He’s untouched on the outside and forces an early throw from Russell, who overthrows Bumphis. LSU has allowed just one first down since the opening drive.
Sixth drive: Well, call it fifth drive, part two, if you’d like, as a special teams blunder forces LSU’s D back on the field. Back to the 4-3, but Sam is on for Mingo. On the first play, Loston is called for a questionable pass interference. State responds by going to Bumphis on the slot, and he beats Loston one on one for the score. Great throw, great route, poor coverage. Nickel package, or Martin at safety, would have been a better move.
Seventh drive: Martin comes on for Loston. Ferguson and Logan in at tackle. Louis and the rest of the base D in. Prescott comes on for Russell and runs the draw, but Logan eats it up, and Louis gets in on the seconds for the stop. Third and 4, and Barrow reads the flat pass to Marcus, but a generous spot earns State its first first down of the half. LSU shifts to nickel, and Eric Reid smashes Robinson in the flat for the biggest hit of the night. Johnson is now in for Ferguson at tackle. Russell tries a sneak on third and 3, but Freak sniffs it out and forces the punt.
Eighth drive: Martin stays on the field for the last play of the third quarter, and Mingo and Edwards take the ends.
Special teams notes
Jalen Collins runs into OBJ trying to receive a punt, and it results in a muff. State recovers it at the LSU 29. Big mistake there.
Alleman slides a 41-yard FG inside the right upright. He’s 3-for-3 tonight.
FINAL: LSU 37, MSU 17
Eighth drive: Hilliard rubles for nine yards and a first down, but LSU can go no further. That’s only the second LSU drive tonight that doesn’t result in points.
Ninth drive: With just under 6:30 to go, Tigers convert another third down. Just one yard to go this time. Then after getting stuffed twice, LSU faces third and 10 and Mett misfires. Tigers take about 2:15 off the clock but don’t get much yardage to show for it.
Mett submits another awesome performance completing 19-of-30 passes for 273 yards. He threw two TDs and didn’t turn the ball over yet again. Third down also told the story of tonight’s showing as LSU went 9-for-15 on third downs. LSU’s rushing was methodical but nothing to write home about with 119 yards on 38 carries. Hill was LSU’s leader on the ground with 48 yards on 15 rushes. However, Mett got rid of the ball quickly and accurately and was LSU’s MVP today along with his favorite target Jarvis Landry, who caught nine passes for 109 yards and a score.
Eighth drive continued: 2nd and 3, and Freak busts through to stretch Griffin’s run wider than he’d have liked. Minter cleans up. Collins gets a PBU on third, and MSU is three and out again.
Ninth drive: With the Dogs pinned inside their 5, LSU goes with Ferguson at tackle, Loston at safety, and the nickel secondary package. Mingo and Montgomery on the edges, but three straight completions and State gets a first. Martin comes on for Loston; Downs for Ferguson. Russell then takes a shot to Bumphis, who beats Reid and Mills for a 40-yard gain. A pass interference call on Mills leads to another State first down.
After a quiet night, Montgomery smacks Russell from the back, but Russell just got rid of it for a completion of six. Quick routes make pressuring the QB tough, but that’s not a lick he’s likely to forget. Freak comes on, and immediately eats up a run to force 3rd and 4 from the 15. LSU rushes just three, but the coverage is so good that Montgomery and Freak team up for the sack. On 4th down and 11, Mingo just shoves Russell down for a sack of his own. Just as I tweeted how well State’s tackles were containing Mingo and Montgomery, they get to Russell on three straight plays. #jinxed
Tenth drive: Another nice punt pins State inside their 20. Loston back at safety, despite the obvious passing situation, as is Louis. Chancey Aghayere getting a look at DE, with Edwards opposite him. Logan and Freak at tackle. Collins comes in for Louis after two completions in a row, but Russell still finds holes in the LSU zone. Ferguson, Mingo, Montgomery and Downs on in a d-line line change. Mingo immediately hurries a Russell incompletion, and Collins gets an excellent PBU to force 3rd and 10 from the LSU 43. Montgomery then closes Russell’s pocket and forces another incompletion and a 4th and 10. But Russell finds - who else? - Bumphis for a first down at the LSU 20. Bumphis gets 7 more on the next play, as LSU’s defense is keeping it all in front of them and winding clock. Barrow breaks up the second down pass; State runs a draw on third and three for the first, but LSU will take that time off the clock. Logan on for Ferguson. On 2nd and 10, Loston reads Russell’s eyes and picks him off, taking it back 100 yards for the score.
Eleventh drive: It’s all but over with 1:06 left, and LSU will run out Aghayere in Edwards’ place and Rasco in Mingo’s. Eugene mans Loston’s spot, Martin takes Collins, and the rest of the starters are in tact to watch the final seconds tick off.
Special Teams Notes
Wing makes a beautiful punt for 50 yards downed at the State three. Awesome touch. He then boots one 47 yards later in the quarter. Good recovery after a poor effort in the first half.