LSU left kicking itself after costly failings lead to painful loss to Florida State

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(Photo: Parker Waters)

The Allstate Louisiana Kickoff was the first game as head coach at LSU for Brian Kelly. It was the 30th start in the college career of Jayden Daniels.

If you closed your eyes when viewing LSU last season under Ed Orgeron and opened them Sunday night, you would have thought it was still last season.

LSU could not block anyone most of the way. The shotgun snaps from center were often awful. The Tigers allowed way too many third down conversions.

Discipline was also lacking with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a senseless targeting infraction which cost the Tigers one of their best players.

Then, the horrendous kicking game of LSU reared its ugly head once more, allowing a game-tying, overtime-forcing basic extra point to get blocked.

There are three phases to the game. When fails and fails miserably, you are going to lose.

LSU failed miserably in the kicking game and paid the price in a 24-23 loss to Florida State.

How bad was it?

LSU allowed a field goal to get blocked, fumbled away two punts, had inept kickoff returns and then, allowed the extra point to get blocked.

How It Played Out

The Tigers won the toss and elected to receive.

On the first play from scrimmage, Daniels dropped back to pass and took off and ran 25 yards for a first down. At the end of the play, Florida State was flagged for a late hit on Daniels, resulting in 15 more yards, placing the ball at the FSU 25-yard line.

LSU reached the four-yard line but then Garrett Dellinger killed the drive with a terrible snap , way over the head of Daniels, which killed the drive.

Damian Ramos, a true freshman, nailed a 36-yard field goal to give LSU a 3-0 lead with 11:41 to play in the quarter. The drive covered 46 yards in eight plays, all of the yards on the ground, including 34 by Daniels.

Maason Smith went down injured on the first defensive series of the game for LSU and it did not look good. Ironically, Smith was injured after a play in a non contact injury. He jumped in the air to celebrate and came down wrong on his left leg. Smith, based on optics, may be done for the season.

BJ Ojulari was then injured on the next play but he was able to return.

LSU got burned on a trick play for a touchdown on a reverse pass with quarterback Jordan Travis getting the pitch back to him and hitting a wide open Ontaria Wilson for a 39-yard touchdown pass to give Florida State a 7-3 lead with 13:00 minutes to play in the first half.

On the play, Mekhi Garner bit on the reverse and was to late recovering. In fact, he was flagged for pass interference but it still was not enough to prevent the completion.

The drive was 89 yards in 14 plays, taking 6:59 off the clock as the LSU defense simply could not get off the field on third down as the Seminoles converted every third down play on the possession.

LSU then mounted drive, largely on the running of Daniels but a false start penalty stymied the possession and Ramos had a 30-yard field goal attempt blocked by Jarod Verse, who got penetration.

Malik Nabers then committed a critical mistake, fumbling a punt on a fair catch with Florida State recovering at the LSU 16-yard line.

The LSU defense came up big, getting a stop,

Sage Ryan made a huge play in the end zone as Florida State went for it on fourth-and-two and Ryan defended the pass beautifully which was intended for Mycah Pittman.

It was a huge gamble by Mike Norvell, who should have taken an easy field goal to go up seven points.

Still, FSU took the second half kickoff and drove 68 yards in 14 plays. Ryan Fitzgerald knocked home a 25-yard field goal to give the Seminoles a 10-3 lead with 8:29 to play in the third quarter. The drive took 6:31 off the clock.

Garner broke up a pass in the end zone on third down to prevent a touchdown.

Florida State then took total control, driving 57 yards in eight plays with Travis hitting Wilson on a 27-yard touchdown pass to give the Seminoles a 17-3 lead with 4:17 to play in the third quarter. It was a great throw and a great catch with one hand by Wilson.

The drive covered 57 yards in eight plays.

Ali Gaye targeted Travis on the play, a clear and easy call and it was a filthy shot delivered. Gaye was ejected from the game and he will also miss the first half of next week’s game with Southern.

LSU responded by going fast, with tempo and a no-huddle approach and it paid off as the Tigers drove 82 yards in 10 plays and scored on a one-yard run by Noah Cain to cut the deficit to 17-10 with eight seconds left in the third quarter.

The momentum died immediately.

Florida State responded by driving 79 yards in 12 plays with DJ Lundy scoring on a one-yard run to extend its lead to 24-10 with 9:04 to play in the game.

Kayshon Boutte, celebrated as perhaps the most talented wide receiver in the country, found himself on the sideline in the fourth quarter. Boutte earlier did not even attempt to catch a ball thrown in the seam near the goal line.

Boutte finally made his first catch with 5:33 to play in the game. Then, he dropped the next one thrown to him. Boutte finished with two catches for 20 yards. At times, Boutte looked frustrated.

LSU did battle back, driving 75 yards in 15 plays and scoring on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jayden Daniels to Jaray Jenkins to cut the deficit to 24-17 with 4:07 to play in the game.

The LSU defense finally got off the field, forcing its first three-and-out but on the ensuing punt, Nabers fumbled it away.

Then, shockingly, at the one-yard line, Treshaun Ward fumbled a bad pitch play and Mekhi Wingo recovered the fumble with 1:20 to play.

With the odds against the Tigers, Daniels shined brightly, driving LSU 99 yards in 11 plays with Daniels hitting Jaray Jenkins on a two-yard touchdown pass with no time on the clock to make it 24-23.

Of course, you take no extra point for granted. LSU somehow allowed its extra point attempt to be blocked by Shyheim Brown on a totally missed blocking assignment. Game over.

Perhaps the kick came out a little low but it was the penetration which made the difference.

Daniels, who struggled for nearly three quarters in the passing game, finished 25 of 34 for 209 yards and two touchdowns passing and rushed 16 times for 114 yards. LSU had 348 total yards offensively and Daniels accounted for 323 yards. That is not sustainable for success long-term in the SEC. He needs help.

The inability of LSU to mount a passing game until late in the third quarter, the inability of any running back to mount a rushing attack and the inability of the Tigers to get off the field on defense on third down proved pivotal in the game. Florida State converted 11 of 17 third down plays.

A ton of missed tackles also contributed to the loss.

The Tigers even got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a kickoff resulting in a touchback, displaying a lack of discipline.

LSU looked like a team playing its first game against a team which had played a game with a new coaching staff. The Tigers looked like a below average SEC West team and, even more damning, a below average FBS team most of the night.

Yes, it was the first game and Brian Kelly is a proven winner and must be given time to put his program together.

LSU showed that it has a ways to go, make that a long way to go to return to the ranks of the better teams in the SEC West, much less the league title race or the country as a whole.

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Ken Trahan


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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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