LEXINGTON, Ky. – LSU quarterback Max Johnson used just eight words to put the Tigers’ 3-3 2021 season and another embarrassingly bad game in perspective.
“It friggin’ sucks, I’m not going to lie,” Johnson said.
Yes Max, it does, especially when a perennial middle-of-the-pack SEC team flattened the confused and dazed Tigers like the league doormat roadkill they’ve sadly become.
It’s rare when the LSU football season is done and buried three weeks before the frost is on the Halloween pumpkins.
But last rites were given Saturday night as 14th ranked and unbeaten Kentucky, in a 42-21 victory, ran for 330 yards and basically lined up and beat the living snot out of what has become the worst coached LSU team since Tigers’ head coach Gerry DiNardo’s last season in 1999.
DiNardo fell on the sword with one game left. He hired bad coordinators. The players lost faith in the coaches.
Current LSU coach Ed Orgeron has a $22 million buyout in a six-year, $42-million contract awarded him by then-new LSU athletic director Scott Woodward after the Tigers went 15-0 and won the national championship.
You could say Woodward was duped, but he reacted the way any athletic director would after a season that was perfect in almost every way, including a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and a Louisiana-born and bred head coach living the dream for he and his state.
Orgeron often said the offense was so good that season with Heisman winner Joe Burrow and the playcalling duo of Steve Ensminger and Joe Brady that he found himself an admiring spectator at times.
A lot changed for Orgeron after that season, personally and professionally. He filed for a divorce, and that’s certainly his private business.
But what is public is his failure to hire excellent assistants, since apparently he doesn’t want to or isn’t capable of making on-the-field coaching decisions.
It seemed like it didn’t matter whether he didn’t personally interview his hires (defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, passing game coordinator Scott Linehan in 2020) or did personally interview them (offensive coordinator Jake Peetz, defensive coordinator Daronte Jones this season), he picked the wrong ponies to bet on.
Apparently, no coach worth his salt wanted to work for Orgeron. It’s like they saw this train wreck coming.
For instance, first-year Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin hired Mike Bobo and Derek Mason, former head coaches with extensive major college coordinating experience.
Orgeron hired two guys who had never called a play or a defensive alignment before on the FBS level.
Also, Orgeron’s move to hire six assistants after last season because he said he wanted younger blood to “communicate better with the players” is horsepoop.
So you dump veteran coaches who helped you win a national title and two years later they are suddenly too old?
Judging from the repeated mistakes in this breakeven season with two SEC losses in the first three games, apparently there’s a communication problem with the “younger” coaches and this team.
From the very start here Saturday, LSU’s offense didn’t do squat until it was way too late.
The Tigers’ defense was lost from start to finish. Kentucky scored its first TD on a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line when LSU defense left UK running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. wide-open for a scoring catch.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, a Penn State transfer who until Saturday was merely a conductor, clinched SEC Player of the Week honors by accounting for 220 highly efficient yards and five TDs (14 of 17 passing for 145 yards and three TDs, 75 rushing yards on 11 attempts and two TDs).
“Some of the time at the point of attack we’ve got to be more physical,” Orgeron said. “I thought last week (in a 24-19 loss to Auburn), we tackled very well against their running backs and not against their quarterbacks.
“This week, we missed some tackles but we’re not the only team that’s going to miss tackles against these guys. But we’ve got to get more hats to the football.”
Yes, but it has rarely happened this season. And the fact LSU had 408 yards total offense with 147 yards rushing (all belonging to Ty Davis-Price) shouldn’t be celebrated because the game was long over by the time the offense awakened from its slumber.
Orgeron’s postgame assessment was his usual broken record of “Let’s look at the film, let’s coach better, let’s play better, let’s stay together.”
That’s his story and he’s sticking to it in a season that looks so bleak at this point – offensive and defensive playmakers Kayshon Boutte and Ali Gaye suffered possible serious injuries – that the only remaining suspense may be if Woodward has enough LSU booster sugar daddies with the cash to buyout Orgeron and his staff.
Woodward was on the LSU sideline Saturday night watching the horror show unfold live and up close.
For a man who has provided Orgeron with all the resources to stay near the top of the college football heap, Woodward did not look like someone feeling he was getting an excellent return on his investment.
He had to be thinking exactly what came out of Max Johnson’s mouth.