LSU Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Tigers' Win vs. Texas A&M
It wasn't pretty, but LSU emerged victorious Saturday against Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
The 24-19 win boosts LSU to 7-1 and sets up a huge meeting with Alabama that has major SEC and BCS implications.
Here are the 10 things we learned about Texas A&M and Les Miles' Tigers, who won despite an alarming lack of cohesion on offense.
10. Ugly Still Works
The Tigers did not dominate. They didn't start well. If you are an LSU fan, there was plenty to complain about.
But they got it done by virtue of strong defense and a stout running game.
Les Miles and his staff would do well to remember this going into the Alabama game, and not get too pass-happy.
Great defense and solid running got you to 7-1. Don't abandon that approach now.
9. Les Miles Knows How to Make Adjustments
Through the first quarter, Texas A&M scored nine points and racked up 180 yards. Then Miles and his staff made some impressive adjustments.
The defense went to three-man fronts and worked on containing quarterback Johnny Manziel, and things turned around.
Through the last three quarters, LSU held the Aggies to 230 yards and 10 points.
Score major points for the Tigers' coaching staff.
8. Turnovers Are Costly
LSU should not have won that game.
The Tigers were outgained, couldn't convert on third down and appeared at times to be as inept on offense as they were against Alabama in last season's BCS title game.
And yet, they won, thanks to Texas A&M's willingness to cough up the ball.
The Aggies gave the Tigers five turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles, and that was the difference in the game.
7. Third Down Is a Problem for the Tigers
Not to beat a dead horse, but LSU's offensive woes were so blatantly obvious in this game, it's hard not to pick on them.
The team was horrible on third down, converting on only two of 16 attempts.
That is not going to cut it against Alabama in two weeks, or just about any one of the Tigers' remaining opponents.
It seemed as if Miles did not trust Mettenberger to make a good throw on third down, and they couldn't get one by rushing the ball, either.
If this team hopes to remain in title contention, third down must get better for LSU, much better.
6. Jeremy Hill Is Legit
Hill had his second straight productive game for the Tigers.
He averaged more than seven yards per carry on 18 attempts and found paydirt from 47 yards out to put the game away in the fourth.
It was tough sledding at times, as Texas A&M regularly stacked the box with eight or nine defenders. But Hill's ability to be effective when needed for the second week in a row is a big story.
He appears to have a bright future at LSU.
5. Johnny Manziel Is Not Heisman Ready
Going into this contest, there was plenty of buzz surrounding Johnny Manziel and a certain end-of-season award given to the best player in the sport.
Last week, he broke his own SEC record for total yards in a game. Not so much this week.
He was harassed all day, forced into three interceptions and limited to only 27 yards rushing.
His bad performance did not go unnoticed:
Thus likely ends any budding Johnny Manziel Heisman talk.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 20, 2012
4. Zach Mettenberger Is King of the Incompletion
Mettenberger has been a huge disappointment. He finished this game with no turnovers, but completed only 11 of his 29 attempts.
That's 37.9 percent.
He routinely overthrew wide-open receivers and seemed to struggle to have any sort of accuracy on his throws.
This tweet from Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee pretty much sums it up:
Do 5-star QBs set foot in Baton Rouge and lose 4-stars immediately?— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) October 20, 2012
3. Texas A&M Can Hang in the SEC
The Aggies lost, yes.
But LSU is ranked No. 6 six in the BCS, and the Tigers were barely able to squeak by A&M.
For those of us who overlooked Texas A&M as a serious threat in the SEC, it might be time to revise that opinion.
That's now two top-six teams A&M has lost to by a combined eight points.
This team is going to be a player in the conference race before all is said and done.
2. LSU Is Not Ready for Alabama
At risk of sounding negative, let me be one of the first to point out that this team is nowhere near ready to take on Alabama.
Texas A&M, with a defense that allowed 57 points to Louisiana Tech last week, held LSU on its own side of the field for the majority of the first half.
LSU's offense displayed various levels of ineptitude, and even Zach Mettenberger's touchdown pass was not a good throw.
It was a win, and, of course, LSU will take it. But with Alabama coming up in two weeks, things are going to have to get better, or the Tigers are going to be embarrassed at home against their biggest rival.
1. LSU's Offense Needs Help
This has been stated, then restated by pundits and analysts all season.
LSU's offense is horrible.
Zach Mettenberger cannot get anything going through the air, the running game, while powerful, is blatantly obvious, and the Tigers only managed to convert on two of 16 third-down attempts against a pitiful A&M defense that allowed opponents to convert on 24 of 37 third downs in its previous two contests.
While the defense did a solid job, especially forcing turnovers and making big plays, this offense really struggles with more than just consistency.
It struggles to look like an FBS-level offense.