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 ranked second-to-last in the SEC heading into the Tigers' sixth game, a road game against Kentucky.
Max Johnson started the game strong, going 4-4 for 24 yards, but on his fifth attempt is where things changed for the Tigers.
Kentucky ran a simple play on their defensive line. The five-technique rusher on LSU right tackle Austin Deculus slanted inside on the snap of the ball. The linebacker blitzed and replaced the gap left open from the move. Deculus should have passed the rusher off to the right guard Chasen Hines and picked up the blitzing backer.
Max Johnson was hit from his blindside, fumbling the ball in the process. Kentucky took over with a short field.
Coming into the game, getting off to a fast start was a major key for LSU. Quite the opposit…
Following a Kentucky touchdown, the next drive for the Tigers started well. They drove the ball to the Kentucky 40-yard line, but began to slip up. A six-yard loss on first down put the Tigers in too big of a hole to overcome. Jack Bech and Ty Davis-Price managed to gain most of the yards back, leaving the Tigers with a fourth-and-1 chance, but an incomplete pass to Bech stopped the drive and momentum was lost.
After this, Johnson had difficulties connecting with receivers, leading to drives stalling from overthrown passes and drops that could have converted for easy first downs. Johnson completed 58% of his passes, and at times held onto the ball too long in the pocket, taking unnecessary sacks.
The only reason the Tigers had an opportunity, though slim, in the fourth quarter was the performance Davis-Price had against the Wildcats and the holes the offensive line was opening for him.
Davis-Price had his best game of the season, rushing 22 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
“I like the way we ran the football with authority.” Orgeron said. “Give Ty Davis-Price credit and the offensive line. I thought he ran the ball very hard, the best he’s run. But we stayed with him. We did not abandon it.”
With the loss to No. 16 Kentucky, LSU falls to 3-3 this season with four more ranked SEC opponents ahead on the schedule.
When asked if this was the toughest stretch he has faced at LSU, Orgeron deflected.
“Man, I’m not going to have a bad day at LSU, I’m the head coach of LSU," he said. "I’m going to live each day to the fullest. I love being the head coach here. Is it tough? Yeah, but I’m not gonna feel sorry for myself. I never will. That will never happen.”