For at least the third time in four weeks, LSU had an effort best described as "imperfect," a term Les Miles has grown fond of this season when assessing his teams' wins.
Saturday night's 12-10 victory, a sloppily played offensive struggle, was no exception.
Fact is it was easily the most flawed effort to date for the Bayou Bengals, a group that lacked discipline all game, finishing with nine penalties and a pair of turnovers.
Here were some of the other immediate takeaways, some good and some bad, from LSU's game versus Auburn.
- LSU stayed afloat thanks to big games from Spencer Ware and Sam Montgomery.
Each of these players had such virtuoso performances with others around them struggling, particularly Ware.
With LSU's offense struggling to pass with any consistency, Auburn was able to gang up on the run for much of the game. That didn't stop Ware (16 carries, 90 yards), who ran like a man with fresh legs, from leading LSU in rushing and rescuing the offense from completely staying in neutral.
Not much more you can say about Montgomery, either. He wast just fantastic, wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage with 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. All-American-level performance from No. 99.
If LSU's season ends with any kind of acclaim, these two -- and their play tonight -- should be remembered. On a night when many had off games for LSU, they were on.
- The Bayou Bengals left no stone unturned in the way of pass protection.
And the sad thing, from an LSU perspective, is it didn't even really matter.
They tried leaving Chase Clement and/or Nic Jacobs in to help protect at tight end ... They tried leaving J.C. Copeland in to chip at fullback ... They tried putting Spencer Ware and Jeremy Hill in as split-back shotgun backs to reinforce protection of Zach Mettenberger ... They even went through a few series in the second half exclusively rolling Mettenberger out, moving the pocket.
LSU tried everything, but Corey Lemonier (2 sacks) and that Auburn front were too good too often for Josh Dworaczyk at left tackle. Mettenberger may have only gone down twice, but Auburn did register a whopping seven QB hurries.
Reshuffling on the offensive line could be in LSU's near future with Florida, South Carolina and Alabama on the horizon.
- Special teams play let LSU down late.
This probably was the shocker of the game from the LSU side.
At least in pass protection, it's easy to understand there are issues because someone's having to fill a starter's shoes. In this case, one of the team's most reliable entities blew a fuse coming down the home stretch, and inexplicably so.
Normally reliable Drew Alleman pushed right a 34-yard attempt with 39 seconds to go, a miss that could've cost LSU dearly had Auburn gotten into position to attempt a game-winning trifecta of its own. This came almost eight minutes after Brad Wing admittedly "shanked," as he later said on Twitter, a 20-yard punt from midfield when LSU was trying to pin the home Tigers back deep. Instead, Auburn got the ball on its own 30.
Given how important a role special teams are in LSU's winning formula, the team and coaching staff will hope these two can bounce back and not suffer any lingering mental setbacks from poor showings late in the fourth quarter.
- A lot of credit is due to the Auburn defense.
Mettenberger was visibly uncomfortable back there for the majority of the game, the victim of a pocket continuously breaking down too fast. And while LSU is breaking in a new left tackle, much credit has to be given to the Auburn defense, a much-maligned group that entered the game with the title of worst run 'D' in the SEC.
The War Eagles didn't play like it tonight. They successfully made LSU one-dimensional, able to rely almost solely on the run, heading into the business end of the contest. That made it easier for Brian VanGorder's unit to stop the run with numbers and keep the LSU offense frustrated and off its rhythm.
On top of Lemonier's big night, opposite defensive end Dee Ford had six tackles and two hurries of Mettenberger. There was a pretty relentless assault that front seven and front eight for much of the game levied against LSU's offensive line.
It completely changed the way LSU would've preferred to play, too.
- Eugene and Muncie had their best games in purple and gold.
Their performances weren't as superlative as Ware's or Montgomery's, but two guys on that next tier were redshirt freshman safety Micah Eugene, a mainstay on dime and nickel packages, and starting strongside linebacker Luke Muncie.
Muncie definitely had some forgettable moments against the run late, but he made a tide-turning interception in the second half and finished with two additional tackles while playing tough near the line of scrimmage.
Eugene, featuring mostly in dime (3-2-6) sets tonight, was lethal channeling his inner-Ron Brooks, doing some of the things from his gunner position that the current Buffalo Bill used to do. Eugene had two of the defense's four sacks against Auburn.
Quick Hitters: Auburn
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