Coming into the game, getting off to a fast start was a major key for LSU. Quite the opposite happened, and LSU was never able to recover. On Saturday night, Kentucky dominated LSU 42-21.
A fumble on LSU’s opening drive led to a quick score by Kentucky, giving them early momentum in front of a raucous crowd. From this point, Kentucky’s offense only gained confidence, and it was the complete opposite for LSU. Despite having its best rushing performance of the season, LSU could never establish a rhythm on offense, which put them in an early hole.
“We needed to be more explosive in the first half,” LSU quarterback Max Johnson said.
A point of emphasis was made on the offensive line this week. Ed Orgeron expected more from the group this season: LSU's rushing offense ranke…
Whenever a team is playing on the road, it's imperative to start strong and take the crowd out of the game. LSU was unable to do this, allowing Kentucky to feed off the crowd and wear down LSU over the course of the game.
Kentucky’s dominant run game was the main factor in LSU wearing down. The Wildcats collected 329 yards rushing, with 147 coming from star running back Chris Rodriguez. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis was also a handful for the LSU defense — he put up 75 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns on the ground. LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron attributed much of LSU’s struggles to the failure to stop the run.
“I knew they had a good rushing game, but 329 yards rushing, we have to do something about that,” Orgeron said in his post-game press conference.
For LSU’s offense, it took a while to establish a rhythm, but the run game had its best game of the season. Tyrion Davis-Price rushed for a season-high 147 yards and two touchdowns in a very impressive performance from the junior running back. The offensive line looked much better in run blocking, but still struggled to protect Max Johsnon. Johnson was sacked four times and was under duress for most of the game, forcing multiple missed throws and rushed decisions. Johnson missed multiple throws on important third downs, which played a huge part in LSU’s offense struggling to gain momentum.
Overall, the biggest takeaway from the game was the way LSU looked utterly dominated by Kentucky up front. Despite LSU looking like it had resolved issues on the defensive line and stopping the run, Kentucky bullied LSU up front for four quarters. Especially after LSU faced adversity early, it just looked like the fight was gone, especially on defense. It’s not the first time this season that LSU has looked that way, and after another disappointing loss, it’s easy for one to question if that fight will ever come back this season. Max Johnson was asked after the game what the feeling in the locker room was following the game, and his answer was straight to the point.
“It freaking sucks,” he said.
Johnson’s words reflect the feelings of just about every LSU fan this season. The early adversity made it feel as if the game was on the brink of getting ugly after the first drive, which is a major red flag when looking at the trajectory of the program. The adversity is only beginning for LSU as well, as it goes into back-to-back games against ranked opponents in Florida and Ole Miss.
On a night where many questions were raised about the future of the program coming into the game, fans will now spend the next few weeks looking for those answers. The future and trajectory of the program is unknown, but in the short term, Orgeron summed things up perfectly in his post-game press conference.
“It’s a tough night to be a Tiger,” he said.