LSU Game Analysis: Tigers Work Hokies Over

When I started writing for this site three years ago, I knew there would come
a time when I eventually would have to write about a blowout game that went the
wrong way. Well, Saturday it happened. On a hot, muggy Louisiana night, the
sound of that locomotive heard for miles was not the local train heading through
Baton Rouge.

It was the Purple and Gold Express of LSU steamrolling the Hokies for a 48-7
victory in Tiger Stadium / Death Valley. The Hokies left Louisiana with their
pride bruised and feeling a bit embarrassed by their performance. They also left
with big question marks on both sides of the ball and a new kid at the helm.

As I walked out of the stadium, I remember thinking that it was going to be
no fun reviewing this one and finding something positive to write about. Well,
there may be a few positives sprinkled in here along the way, but there isn’t
much.

The good news is that it was just one game…one very surprising and unusual
game for anyone that has followed the Tech football program over the past 15+
years. Having spent the past couple of days watching, reviewing and writing, I
am certainly ready to move on.

But, as they say, the game needed to be analyzed and somebody had to do it.
So, without further delay, let’s hold our noses and dive back in…

Game Review — Defense

I think everyone (including LSU’s players, coaches, and fans) was surprised
by how easily LSU’s offense carved up the Tech defense. The numbers were
staggering…long drives, big plays, and almost 600 yards of total offense. It
didn’t matter whether LSU ran inside or outside, or passed in the flats or over
the middle — the Tech defense had no answer for any of it.

What
happened? Well, pretty much everything that could go wrong did. There were
numerous breakdowns — blown assignments, bad angles, poor gap control, and
missed tackles. Some players tried to do too much; others seemed dazed and
confused.

Many times, a play would break because a single player was out of position.
Other times, the players were in position to make a play and simply didn’t
execute. Other times, it was a case of an aggressive defensive call getting
outdone by the perfect play call on the other side.

And other times, it was simply a case of a player getting beat by a better
player in purple and gold. LSU had talent, speed and depth everywhere and their
offensive execution in this game was nearly flawless. And they knew where to
attack, game planning to test the inexperienced players on Tech’s defense, both
in the running game and in the passing game.

It was a night when a normally fast defense didn’t play fast. It was a night
when a talented offense attacked the inexperienced spots on the defense and the
inexperience was unable to deliver. It was a night when an experienced and
normally tough defensive interior was manhandled in the trenches.

How out of whack was it? It was even a night when the instincts failed one of
the most instinctive linebackers in college football. How often does that
happen? Well, never until Saturday night.

In other words, it was a night when a very good defense just didn’t play very
well.

But what happened specifically? It was all much too easy for LSU’s offense.
To break it down, I decided to focus on the first half where the tone was set
and game was settled. Defensively, the second half was basically more of the
same, so let’s focus on how LSU built a 24-0 first half lead.

First Drive — First TD

It didn’t sound an alarm at the time, but the first indication of the
problems to come happened on the second play of the game when RB Jacob Hester
broke a 13 yard run through the center of Tech’s defense. On the play, the Tech
defensive line was driven off the line of scrimmage, preventing any chance at
penetration. Vince Hall overplayed the run keys and collided with Xavier Adibi.
He overcompensated and then lost gap control to the outside. Hester was able to
run behind Hall’s overplay and into the Tech secondary for a big gain.

The Hokies stuffed the next play, but Brandon Flowers was whistled for a
personal foul penalty on the other side of the field. This was the classic
retaliation foul and not a very smart play by a normally very

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