Kentucky loss shows Tigers’ problems transcend the racing game
LSU had its best ground game of the season on Saturday night.
It didn’t matter.
The Tigers’ 147 rushing yards weren’t a big deal, but they were more than the previous record of 125 against McNeese State, and more than the under 100 totals in the other 4 games.
But it didn’t matter.
Ty Davis-Price had 147 yards all by himself and rushed for 2 touchdowns, but that didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter, in part, because many of those yards came after the Kentucky No.16 took control with a 21-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter before securing a dominant victory. 42-21 in Lexington, Ky.
It didn’t matter, in part, because the Wildcats rushed for 329 yards, with 2 runners for 100 yards to support quarterback Will Levis’ 64 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns.
It didn’t matter because Kentucky was more physical than LSU on both lines of scrimmage.
It didn’t matter because Kentucky was by far the better team. Period.
The Wildcats ‘offensive line was better than the Tigers’ defensive line. The Wildcats ‘defensive line was better than the Tigers’ offensive line.
Mark Stoops and his staff had their players better prepared at the start than Ed Orgeron and his staff.
Nothing that happened for the next 60 minutes changed what was apparent shortly after kick-off.
Kentucky is No. 16 and is rising for a reason. LSU fell from a poorly designed No.16 preseason ranking for a reason.
Lévis outscored LSU counterpart Max Johnson, who completed 22 of 38 for 261 yards and 1 touchdown and lost a fumble in the game’s 1st possession, leading to the 1st touchdown.
Johnson has played under duress for much of the season, competently coping with anemic running game and constant pressure. The improvement in Saturday’s racing game was always accompanied by constant pressure, and that affected him.
Lévis was in better shape.
In 3 previous SEC games, he had completed 32 of 57 passes for 368 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Against LSU he was a touchdown machine, throwing for 3 and rushing for 2. He had just 7 goals in the surprise win over Florida a week earlier, but he doubled that number in just 17 attempts and finished with 145 passing yards in addition to his 64 rushing yards.
He expertly handled a more manageable situation than Johnson.
And so the Tigers are 3-3 and 1-2 in the SEC after losing back-to-back conference games.
Leading up to Saturday, the rushed game, which was second-last in the SEC averaging 70 yards per game, was the most glaring weakness, a handy scapegoat for the team’s erratic play.
But that changed on Saturday.
The racing game wasn’t great at all, and he’s still a big factor in this team’s below-average game.
But the fact that the best running performance of the season is arguably the worst overall performance of the season has shown that LSU’s flaws are far from being limited to its inability to handle the ball effectively.
He ran the ball pretty well against Kentucky, but he didn’t pass it well and he didn’t defend the run or the pass well.
The Tigers did not solve their racing game problems against the Wildcats, even though they were less poor than before.
Their second consecutive loss at the SEC demonstrated that their problems transcend the racing game and that an average racing game will not solve the problems for the whole team.
Kentucky has emphatically shown that LSU’s inability to compete in the SEC is the result of more than just poor running play.