After losing 41-3, it is difficult to do anything but shake your head and turn off the television. Honestly, after watching that slaughter, that’s really all I want to do to. Still, it’s important to try to figure out why the Huskies lost, and figure out what exactly that means for the team going forward.
First of all, I’d like to say that I believe Keith Price did not play that bad of a game. Obviously he wasn’t terrific, but his stats are not indicative of his performance. He looked shaky early, but as the game went on, he continued to drop back to pass, see absolutely no open receivers, and then evade the pass rush far longer than seemed possible before either taking a sack or throwing the ball away. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect more out of your quarterback in that situation. He played his heart out, but he was not given an opportunity to succeed.
If you’re wondering what was keeping him from succeeding, it is time to discuss the offensive line. I can’t say that every single player on the line played terribly; it was such a blur of blown assignments that I certainly could have missed one or two individuals taking care of business. But overall, LSU only had to rush four to completely break the Husky pass protection, which left the linebackers and defensive backs to lock down the Husky pass catchers. Part of the problem started last week when Ben Riva was injured against SDSU, and then the loss of Erik Kohler in the first quarter today threw the line into a state of flux, but that is still no excuse for how many times Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo went completely unblocked on their way to wrecking Price, and it has to be remembered that LSU probably would have had at least seven or eight sacks if Keith hadn’t done such a great job of evading his assailants.
The offensive line did not do any better run blocking. Of course, Bishop Sankey is not built to run against LSU. He weighs just about 200 pounds, and that just doesn’t fly against a team that has a 270 pound fullback (not related to Sankey’s success, but seriously, a 270 pound fullback!). But that doesn’t excuse the offensive line for giving him absolutely no chance. They were physically outmatched at the point of attack so badly that by the end of the first quarter, it was completely clear from my spot on the sofa that any run call was a waste of a down. Once again, this contributed to the toxic set of circumstances for Keith Price.
It’s one thing for your quarterback to be your most important player, but you can’t ask him to succeed with an offensive line that cannot block, a nonexistent run game, and zero open receivers. Aside from a fairly solid performance from Austin Seferian-Jenkins, that pretty much sums up the offensive side of the ball.
On defense, things were actually much more respectable, despite the 41 points allowed. Early in the game, before the whole thing just got out of hand in the second half, the defense was able to force the Tigers to either punt or settle for a field goal each time the Tigers weren’t handed great field position by poor Husky punting.
It’s probably a sign of just how pathetic this game was that I’m almost a little enthusiastic about the defense, but I must say, if you take that exact LSU team and put them up against the 2011 Husky defense, I’m pretty sure the score would have been 41-3 at halftime. Wilcox hasn’t crafted a dominant defense, but they may be within sight of average, and that’s progress.
Unfortunately, it seems like Sark has traded progress on the defense for regression on offense, and that is not at all comforting. Until the Huskies play a few more games, we won’t know how much of this game was LSU being really, really good. Perhaps the Tigers would have struck down any team that took the field in Baton Rouge yesterday. But until further notice, we have to contend with a broken offensive line and a nonexistent run game. And when I say broken, I mean it. I don’t even think Sark knows who will be playing what position next Saturday with all these injuries, and I know for certain that I don’t.
And when I say nonexistent, I mean nonexistent. Bishop Sankey did nothing to prove he can be a starting back, though once again, he deserves to attempt to make his case against a defense that resides on this earth rather than somewhere in the pantheon of football lordship.
There isn’t really much more to say. We have to wait and see how much of this loss was the Huskies and how much was the Tigers. Until then, this team has lost the benefit of the doubt. Now, they have to prove they are capable of competing with great teams, because no one is going to assume they can. And Coach Sarkisian, long the beneficiary of optimism and trust due to his rebuilding of a downtrodden program, may be a few more disastrous losses from losing that trust as well.