Different week, different woes

Scooter Hobbs

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Hey, look at it this way.

It’s not often you — and we’re looking at you, LSU — can suffer through an historically frustrating season … and maybe still take away most of your new, big rival’s hopes and dreams.

You don’t even have to win the game — which was quite convenient for the Tigers during a 20-7 loss to Texas A&M.

See, LSU frustrated Texas A&M much of the night, but never really threatened the Aggies.

But A&M still has some answering to do.

For lack of any real subplots, the main story line for a rainy night at Kyle Field was the Aggies as a possible backdoor sneak-in for the College Football Playoff.

Makes a nice story.

But come again?

LSU may not have been in the CFP discussion since the first five minutes of this season. And even that was probably courtesy for a defending champion. But 2019 wasn’t THAT long ago. The Tigers dang well remember what a CFP contender looks like.

And, sorry, A&M. But you ain’t it.

Maybe try playing the mantra of Just Win, Baby.

But word and film will get out. That selection committee is a meticulous bunch. It doesn’t miss much, looks for all the dust behind the door frames.

You get 60 minutes against that LSU defense, you’re supposed to show off a little bit.

Mississippi State, Missouri, maybe even South Carolina, could be brought in as character witnesses, remind them how much fun there is be had with LSU’s defense this year.

The Aggies’ offense managed one touchdown against it and had to rely on a pair of field goals and the charity of a gift-wrapped pick six for the rest.

Let word of that get out, and you might just get laughed off the national stage.

So if LSU ever starts trading in moral victories — perish the thought — then that might qualify.

Instead, about all you can say is that LSU’s defense actually played well enough to pull the upset.

Probably should have.

There was remarkable, unexpected progress.

But the LSU team didn’t deserve to win.

The dumpster fire in the secondary, spectacular as it had been, perhaps distracted everybody from the fact that the Tigers’ offense might have been fools’ gold at best, just overmatched at worst.

Maybe the secondary woes were LSU’s version of the Great Oz telling Dorothy not to look at the man behind the curtain.

OK, the defense might be saying, “Held the Aggies to 267 yards, 2 of 16 on third downs, only 13 points.”

The usual suspects in the secondary would really like word: “Gave up 105 yards passing, 11 of 34 completions. No meltdowns.”

If that’s not enough to win in this offensive day and age, you’re going to need a bigger scapegoat.

But the LSU offense, often forgiven, sometimes viewed as a bright spot amidst the season’s blight, was more than up to the task.

Maybe we should have seen it coming.

Its “bright spots” came against the dregs even of SEC’s new laissez-faire approach to defense — Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri and Arkansas all are down near the statistical bottom.

Texas A&M ranked No. 1 in total defense.

So maybe when presented with a real defense, you saw the real LSU offense.

And it’s not a pretty sight.

As it was with blaming the worst LSU defense this century soley on a Lost in Space secondary, there’s actually plenty of blame to go around on the other side, too.

To begin with, the Tigers are having to mix and match in an attempt to pick and choose the hot hand among two true freshman quarterbacks.

Never a good idea, but it couldn’t be helped once Myles Brennan went down.

They’re called freshmen for a reason — and freshmen mistakes are almost inevitable.

TJ Finley and Max Johnson can get better.

But with minimal time to throw and execute, there was some money to be made in the Aggies’ secondary.

Of course, the novice quarterbacka aren’t always getting a lot of help from their receivers other than Terrace Marshall, the team’s best player.

And now they’ll apparently move forward without him — reports surfaced Sunday that Marshall was opting out for the rest of the season to begin preparing for the NFL draft.

But even Marshall dropped one Saturday night. That kind of faux pas was unheard of last year.

With Marshall, they reminded me some of the young 2018 receiving corps where Marshall and future Biletnikoff award winner Ja’Marr Chase showed potential and flashes of the extraordinary, but only Justin Jefferson was really familiar with the word “consistency.”

Maybe it will come.

The running backs are average by LSU’s standards. When presented with a hole, they generally get what’s there and not much more.

And, often as not, not much is there — faced with a real defensive front, LSU’s offensive line got whipped all night.

There’s your problem.

“It all starts up front with the blocking,” Orgeron said. “There’s no room for us to run the football.”

Or much time to throw it which might really have made a difference Saturday.

Of course you could just blame the coaches.

Orgeron, apparently, wouldn’t disagree.

“I think we’ve got to call better plays. I think we’ve got to have a better plan,” he said. “I was really disappointed in our plan.”

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.comTexas A&M defensive back Devin Morris (7) hits LSU quarterback TJ Finley (11) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

Sam Craft

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