STARKVILLE, Miss. — – The morning after then-defending nationwide champion LSU dropped its 2020 season opener 44-34 to Mississippi State, head coach Ed Orgeron started engaged on a method to beat the Air Raid.
On Saturday he received his likelihood. Max Johnson handed for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns to guide the Tigers to a 28-25 victory over the late-rallying Bulldogs on Saturday.
LSU (3-1, 1-0 Southeastern Convention) had solely 343 yards offense and was 5 of 32 on third down however reeled off a number of huge performs when wanted.
“We are saying on a regular basis, huge performs construct momentum,” Orgeron stated.
Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1) dominated the stat sheet with 486 yards offense and 12 third-down conversions, however turned the ball over twice contained in the LSU 30-yard line and often squandered momentum-building drives.
“You simply gotta know, that is Mississippi State’s offense, ” linebacker Damone Clark stated. “All week our coaches have been saying, ‘Do not chunk on the cheese.’ Simply preserve the ball in entrance of you, make them make the checkdown and do not allow them to make the massive performs. I am actually happy with the way in which our protection fought, actually proud.”
Neither staff established dominance early, and LSU led 7-3 on the half. However on the second play of the third quarter, the Bulldogs bit on a play-action pretend and Johnson discovered Kayshon Boutte excessive for a 64-yard rating, his second of the day.
“It was an RPO,” Boutte stated. “It was open the primary time, however we handed it off. The protection got here down. So we ran it once more, and it was open once more the second time too.”
Later within the quarter, the Tigers confused the MSU protection once more on an analogous play and Trey Palmer pitter-pattered into the tip zone for a 58-yard landing, no defender inside 20 yards.
As has develop into their customized, the Bulldogs made a tough push within the fourth quarter. Will Rogers discovered Makai Polk and Austin for late touchdowns, then with slightly below two minutes remaining hit Jo’Quavious Marks for a 16-yard rating and Malik Heath for the two-point conversion to shut the hole to 38-35.
“I am unable to say we develop into extra assured,” MSU head coach Mike Leach stated. “It is a psychological deal. We take consolation in understanding that it will probably’t get any worse, I assume. And we let ourselves play.”
However the ensuing onside kick did not go 10 yards and the Tigers have been in a position to run out the clock. It was the second straight week MSU misfielded an onside kick late within the sport.
“I see a staff that may make loads of performs,” Leach stated. “However I see a staff that may take themselves out of drives as a result of they do not have that focus.”
Johnson was 17-of-27 passing with one interception and Boutte caught 4 balls for 85 yards.
Rogers was 47-of-62 passing for 371 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Marks rushed for 46 yards and had 9 catches for 67 yards and a landing.
How a lot respect does LSU have for the Air Raid? The blitz-happy Tigers spent a lot of the day with eight defenders dropping again in protection, a scheme Orgeron says they developed within the offseason particularly for this sport.
“Once you lead the nation in sacks, exhausting to go together with a three-man rush,” Orgeron stated. “However we checked out what Arkansas did to the them final 12 months, how they beat them, and I informed our guys to only be affected person and keep sharp. Explosive performs killed us final 12 months. Give our defensive guys loads of credit score, they’d by no means performed that scheme earlier than. We simply practiced it this week.”
LSU: The Tigers did not look nice early, however confirmed persistence within the pocket and executed the massive performs after they wanted them. This was a vital win for Orgeron’s staff in the event that they hope to stay related in November.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have now misplaced two straight winnable video games and the schedule solely will get harder from right here.
LSU: The Tigers return residence to host No. 23 Auburn subsequent weekend in one other SEC Western Division brawl.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs face seventh-ranked Texas A&M in Faculty Station for his or her first SEC highway journey of the 12 months.