Louisville may have the Heisman Trophy winner playing quarterback, but Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals have found almost nothing on offense through one half against LSU’s stingy defense. The Tigers have out-gained Louisville 230-41 in the first half and held the football for just over 18 minutes while building a 16-6 lead on Louisville.
Louisville has had an absolutely miserable first half on offense. The Cardinals were forced to punt on their first offensive series and settled for a field goal on their second. Then came four straight three-and-outs and then Jackson was taken down in the end zone for a safety late in the first half. The Cardinals were given a gift to tack on a late field goal thanks to an interception by Zykiesis Cannon on a very poorly thrown football by Danny Etling immediately following the LSU safety. Blanton Creque hit his second field goal of the half, this one with plenty of leg from 47 yards out, to cut slightly into the LSU lead.
Aside from the late interception, Etling had a decent first half with 187 passing yards and two touchdowns despite completing just 11 of his 21 pass attempts. With Leonard Fournette opting to sit out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL, the LSU running game has gone through Derrius Guice, who has rushed for 47 yards on 17 carries to lead all players. Louisville’s Jackson has been sacked five times in the first half, including two by Tashawn Bower.
Louisville’s defense is playing a little short-handed with injuries keeping out cornerbacks Trumaine Washington and Shaq Williams and a hamstring leaving safety Josh Harvey-Clemons questionable, in addition to gunshot wounds leaving linebackers Henry Famurera and James Hearns out of action. The losses in the defensive backfield have shown with LSU being able to find some room to work in the passing game.
Leftovers are always one of the best parts of Thanksgiving and, after Thursday’s performance, you can probably count Texas A&M as a team that may have had too much of them before hitting the field.
The Aggies looked like they were in the middle of a holiday food coma most of the game as the team struggled to stop LSU in a lopsided 54-39 loss to further the team’s November slide.
Tigers tailback Derrius Guice continued to look like one of the best players in the country even if he was just a fill-in for injured starter Leonard Fournette. The sophomore broke Fournette’s school single game record (set just last month) by rushing for 285 yards and four touchdowns on the night.
Not to be completely out done, quarterback Danny Etling turned in perhaps the best performance of his career — certainly the best in an LSU uniform — by throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns. The LSU backfield remarkably topped 300 yards through the air and 200 on the ground for the first time in school history.
Etling’s opposite number Trevor Knight didn’t have quite those numbers in his first start in nearly three weeks after injuring his shoulder against Mississippi State. The signal-caller finished just 14-of-30 for 211 yards but did throw for three touchdowns as A&M mounted a late comeback in the second half. The senior unfortunately didn’t finish the game as he had to be helped off to the sidelines in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Keith Ford chipped in 100 yards rushing for the Aggies while true freshman Trayveon Williams added another 63 and a touchdown.
The win was a big one for LSU interim head coach Ed Orgeron to close out the regular season 5-2 under his watch. Whether that is enough to get the Louisiana native the permanent job remains in the air but most of the game was overshadowed by multiple reports regarding the school closing in on hiring Houston head coach Tom Herman.
The program ended up releasing two different in-game statements denying reports that they have concluded their coaching search but it will undoubtedly to be the talk around Baton Rouge as to what direction the Tigers’ brass takes over the next few days.
At the same time, speculation will only increase that Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin could be on the hot seat himself after yet another late season slide. The Aggies were No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff standings but will enter December wondering what the future holds after dropping four of their last six to finish 8-4.
Pregame festivities at Kyle Field included a lot more than eating a few slices of turkey on Thanksgiving night.
On the Texas A&M sideline, the biggest news the Aggies have received in weeks was the fact that quarterback Trevor Knight warmed up and started against LSU on Thursday for the first time since injuring his shoulder against Mississippi State.
Despite the return of the signal-caller, the home team’s offense could not keep pace with LSU, which led the game itself 20-7 going into halftime. Knight finished the first two quarters with just 56 yards through the air on six-of-16 passing, but could manage just a single scoring drive when he found Christian Kirk on a wheel route to the end zone.
While Tigers fans were no doubt excited at tailback Derrius Guice‘s rushing (116 yards, one touchdown) and the play of their defense, the entire state of Louisiana (and Texas) were no doubt trying to digest reports that surfaced just prior to kickoff that the school was close to hiring Houston head coach Tom Herman.
It should make for an interesting backdrop to the second half with both teams aiming to keep their slim hopes for a Sugar Bowl bid alive and a lot of fans wondering what’s next for each program.
The tempers between Florida and LSU got a little carried away before the game ever started, leading LSU running back Leonard Fournette to suit up on a day he was not expected to be available. It turned out Fournette served as nothing more than a decoy to start the game for the Tigers. Fournette has carried the football five times for 25 yards as the defenses for the Gators and LSU are setting the tone in this one. LSU leads Florida at the half, 7-3.
LSU scored the lone touchdown of the half on their first possession of the game. Derrius Guice punched it in from the one-yard line at the end of a 12-play drive covering 80 yards. With the Tigers once again sniffing a touchdown in the second quarter, Guice had the ball knocked out of his hands, allowing Florida to come up with a much-needed turnover. With the Gators lacking any offensive punch though, the turnover yielded nothing more than changing the field position.
Florida can clinch the SEC East Division with a win in Baton Rouge. If the offense cannot score points today then Florida will have to hope Tennessee loses either one of their final two games this season in order to book a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game against Alabama.
It appears that Leonard Fournette has played his last game at Tiger Stadium.
A little more than an hour before kickoff, the Baton Rouge Advocate is reporting that Fournette will not play in LSU’s game against Florida Saturday afternoon because of a lingering and ongoing ankle issue. The New Orleans Times-Picayune subsequently confirmed the report.
The news comes a day after a report surfaced that the injury is a chronic problem and “one that will need constant maintenance or perhaps surgery in the future.”
The All-American initially injured the ankle during a mid-August summer camp practice; then aggravated it against Wisconsin in the opener; sat out the Week 2 game against an FCS foe; and then aggravated it again in Week 4 against Auburn before sitting for Missouri the following Saturday. This would mark the fourth game he’s missed this year.
Fournette had played the last three games, though, including a 284-yard effort on 16 carries against Ole Miss — and a 17-carry, 35-yard effort vs. top-ranked Alabama, too. The junior, though, aggravated the ankle injury again in the Week 11 win over Arkansas.
While he still has a year of eligibility remaining, and he’s proclaimed he’s (winkwink nudgenudge) not ready, Fournette is widely expected to make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.
The good news for the Tigers is they still have Derrius Guice. The sophomore leads the team in rushing with 881 yards, and his 8.7 yards per carry is third nationally.