Texas A&M’s offense picked the worst possible game not to show up.
A&M needed to score at least its season average of 32.1 points per game to have a chance to beat LSU. Instead, it scored only once in a 50-7 loss, its lowest point total in 53 games. A&M’s 169 yards of offense was its lowest since the 77-0 loss to Oklahoma in 2003 when the Aggies had only 54 total yards. Any reference to that game is never good and there was absolutely nothing good about Saturday night’s game for A&M.
The defense wasn’t much better, but LSU scoring 50 points wasn’t a shocker. LSU came in averaging 48.5 points and 561.2 yards per game to rank second in the nation in both categories. That’s why A&M’s offense had to produce, but it consistently misfired. A&M had 13 plays of four or more yards in 60 snaps (21.7%). LSU had 38 plays of four or more yards in 75 snaps (50.7 percent).
LSU had A&M’s number from the get-go. LSU had five plays of at least four yards on its first possession and 15 in the first quarter in taking a 21-0 lead. A&M had but four plays of four or more yards in the first quarter. By that time, for all intents and purposes, the game was over. In reality, A&M was never in it.
The offensive line couldn’t open running lanes, the receivers were smothered and quarterback Kellen Mond often looked lost. Defensively, A&M couldn’t stay with LSU’s receivers and there were way too many missed tackles.
“We didn’t do good enough on getting separation and giving Kellen enough time to make some plays,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He was harassed all night.”
LSU, to its credit, made A&M look like a high school team. The Tigers just didn’t talk about avenging last year’s 74-72 seven overtime loss, they did something about it.
“I think the number one thing is we played 60 minutes,” Ed Orgeron said. “It is what we have been looking for all year.”
A&M was looking to put the finishing touch on a regular season that hasn’t been great, but the team had made progress in 11 games. But the Aggies took steps backward Saturday night at an alarming rate, which few in Aggieland saw coming. A 42-28 loss was somewhat expected. But 50-7 with the opposing starting quarterback not playing the last 12 1/2 minutes?
Fisher’s teams have a history of finishing strong. He came in 32-7 in November with the average margin in those setbacks at a highly competitive 7.3 points. Only one of the losses had been one more than two scores, a 31-14 setback at fourth-ranked Clemson in 2017. A 43-point loss heading into 15 bowl practices is a new challenge for Fisher.
The Aggies couldn’t execute against LSU. They just didn’t look ready to play and couldn’t handle adversity.
“We have to play better, I have to coach better,” Fisher said. “I’m responsible for putting that team out there and how they prepare, how they play. That’s our jobs as coaches to put our players in better situations. We’ll review the film and hopefully have 15 really good bowl practices and for our young guys to get better for next year.”
Fisher and A&M need to follow Orgeron and LSU’s lead. Tell the fans what you’re going to do, then do it.
Robert Cessna’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org