By JAMES MORAN
Tiger Rag Associate Editor
AUBURN, Ala. — Here’s what went right and wrong in LSU’s heartbreaking 18-13 loss to Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.
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STOCK UP: Arden Key
Not sure how much higher the stock can go for LSU’s defensive stud, but hey, another day, another multiple sack effort. Key was credited for a half sack in the first half when he and Duke Riley flew through the left side of Auburn’s offensive line and slammed Sean White down in the backfield. Then, Key nearly got ejected for the game when a roughing the passer call was reviewed for a possible targeting violation. That loomed large as Key set LSU up for a go-ahead score with a strip sack of White deep in Auburn territory in the third quarter. Suffice to say, it’s not Key’s fault LSU fell to 2-2.
STOCK UP: Red zone defense
Auburn was able to move the ball more-or-less at will between the 20’s, but the LSU defense kept the visitors in the game by repeatedly stiffening once the Plainsmen crossed into the red zone. LSU didn’t allow a single touchdown, forcing Auburn to send Daniel Carlson out to attempt and convert six field goals. Kendell Beckwith temporarily saved LSU’s bacon by leading a dramatic goal-line stand at the 1-yard line to keep the deficit at 9-7. Normally, that’s good enough to win such a game. Instead, LSU has now managed to fumble away two games in which its defense allowed a grand total of just one touchdown.
STOCK DOWN: Offensive line
Playing without right tackle Toby Weathersby, who didn’t travel due to a sprained ankle, the reshuffled LSU offensive line was overwhelmed at times by Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and that Auburn defensive front. Auburn sacked Danny Etling three times and hurried a handful of other throws. Credit the quarterback for gutting his way through a physical beating. LSU did rush for 220 yards, but most of it came on three long runs by Derrius Guice (52 yards), Leonard Fournette (35 yards) and D.J. Chark (35 yards). Aside from those three runs, LSU rushed for 98 yards on 29 carries (3.37 yards per carry).
STOCK DOWN: Clock Management
An old bugaboo came back and bit Les Miles at the worst possible time. LSU threw short of the end zone without any timeouts let — Miles had to burn one earlier in the half because of confusion among the tight ends trying to line up — and incurred an illegal shift penalty that forced them to retry a fourth down conversion. Of course that left just one second on a running clock, and instant replay showed it ticked off before Etling took the snap and delivered what would’ve been a game-winning touchdown pass to D.J. Chark. Another strike on the ledger of a head coach already on a hot seat.