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No. 16 LSU Football Lays Second Straight Season Opening Dud in 38-27 Loss to UCLA

Tigers gashed through the air and on the ground, very one demensional on offense

All of the offseason chatter for LSU centered around improvement in communication, a veteran offensive and defensive line that had developed and a new coaching staff that had breathed new life into the roster. After Saturday's season opener, it's safe to say it was a failure on all accounts.

UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet and tight end Greg Dulcich combined for 271 yards on the ground and through the air to help guide the Bruins to a 38-27 win over No. 16 LSU. 

For much of the evening, UCLA just looked like the better team on both sides of the ball. The Bruins found what worked early in the game and stuck with it as LSU was unable to adjust. 

Linebackers couldn't keep up with Dulcich in the middle of the field as miscommunication led to three huge receptions for 117 yards. Charbonnet was finding and attacking the holes, rushing for 119 yards on the night as the back half of the LSU defense took bad angles and were being pushed around. Former LSU star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu perhaps explained it best.

Starting with the offense, there wasn't much to be excited about. The offensive line struggled with protection, the running attack produced just 48 yards, Max Johnson looked a tick late on his reads and receivers were dropping catchable passes. 

When the run game failed early, the offense completely abondoned it by the second quarter, throwing 27 first half passes in a very one dimensional type scheme. There were flashes as Johnson dropped a beautiful touchdown pass to Kayshon Boutte in the opening minutes of the second quarter and the quick hitters were a source for first downs. 

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But simply, this team needed to balance out in the second half and just wasn't able to do so consistently. Johnson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns on the evening but the Tigers just weren't able to find a flow with a one dimensional offense. Boutte added 148 yards and three touchdowns through the air, continuing the success he had last season.

However, LSU totaled just 48 yards on the ground while UCLA continued to thrash the Tigers in all areas, throwing for 260 yards and rushing for another 215 yards. 

UCLA exploded for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter alone to begin the onslaught. Most of the damage came during a seven play window that included a busted coverage on a 75-yard touchdown to Dulcich and from there, Charbonnet took over for the Bruins offense. 

Of his 152 total yards in the game, 105 came in the first half, including a second touchdown drive in the second quarter that put UCLA on top 14-7. On six of the eight first half drives, the LSU defense held UCLA to 68 yards on 24 plays but those other two touchdown drives went for 146 yards on just seven plays. 

The play of both the o-line and d-line was particularly frustrating for the Tigers as those were the two groups with veteran leadership and experience working in its favor. But old habits die hard as the offensive line couldn’t protect or open up running lanes while the front seven couldn’t set the edge against the Bruins rushing attack.

There were flashes to build on as Elias Ricks hauled in an interception and the defensive line was able to get some pressure in the backfield with four sacks and nine tackles for a loss. But the flashes were far outweighed by the shortcomings of a team that has a lot to shore up in the coming weeks.