There were many ways LSU's matchup with Kentucky could've gone with many telling signs about where the program was by game's end. This is still a team that has yet to discover an identity and on Saturday night in Lexington, was run off the field.
With a 3-3 start to the season, it's safe to say there have been more downs than ups with the Tigers this season and more issues continued to crop up against the Wildcats. Here were just a few of the main observations from the second SEC loss of the 2021 season.
LSU Offense Still Unable to Get in Sync
LSU has not been able to get in sync with its offense all season. For the first five weeks, it was the Tigers' passing game that led the way while the run game was non-existent. On Saturday against Kentucky, it was the exact opposite as the running attack, spearheaded by Tyrion Davis-Price, was the only successful component of the offense.
Early in the game, LSU was able to get drives started but would shoot itself in the foot with miscues down field and sacks. LSU could muster just 75 yards through the air as Kentucky built out its lead in the first half. It wasn't until the Wildcats had carved a 35-7 lead that the Tigers finally were able to get going through the air.
After the game, Max Johnson was critical of his performance, noting two throws that would've extended drives and kept the purple and gold in the game.
"I overthrew [Jack] Bech on one and underthrew Trey Palmer on the other. I try to play my heart out every single down," Johnson said. "I think we need to be more explosive in the first half."
The potential is there for this offense to be much better than it has been to this point but it just seems to be a situation where the offense is getting in its own way. One week it's the offensive line, another it's the running game and also the playcalling, which has been under scrutiny for much of the season.
There was more balance with 38 passes to 35 run plays called but for this offense to be more unpredictable, the creativity of the calls needs to turn up a notch.
Tyrion Davis-Price Gets Running Game Off the Ground
The lone star of LSU's offense on Saturday night was the junior Davis-Price, who ran for a season high 147 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Wildcats. He became the first rusher for the Tigers to go over 100 yards in a game this season and was finally able to attack the holes that were opened for him.
Davis-Price and the run game was the one consistent threat for LSU throughout the evening but when the Tigers got down by three scores, the focus needed to turn towards the air. Quarterback Max Johnson wasn't surprised the ground game was able to get going as the offensive line had a good week of practice.
"Our linemen have been working their butts off to work on the run game, Ty's been doing a great job and all our backs have been doing a great job," Johnson said. "I feel bad for our guys, it sucks. We're gonna come back on Monday and get better."
The goal heading in according to Orgeron was to not abandon the run, even if it started slow, which it certainly did. Now the purple and gold will need to build on this performance when it welcomes a susceptible Florida team next weekend in Death Valley.
LSU Can't Afford to Miss Anymore Significant Pieces
It seems all season long there have been significant pieces going down at the most inopportune times. There were preseason injuries to Glen Logan, a head injury to Jay Ward week one, a foot injury to Derek Stingley right before the start of SEC play that required surgery and most recently two more star players going down against Kentucky.
Edge rusher Ali Gaye and receiver Kayshon Boutte both went out late in the game against the Wildcats with lower leg injuries. It was reported on the LSU radio broadcast that Gaye's achilles was being checked out by medical staff while Boutte was seen grabbing his right ankle as well.
Boutte would eventually need to be carted off the field in what looked like on the replay, a non-contact injury to his lower leg. After the game there were no updates from Orgeron on the severity but there was definite concern on the sidelines for Boutte after he went down.
"We gotta see what the diagnosis is," Orgeron said. "Obviously let the doctors look at them and tomorrow after the swelling goes down, those guys will let me know what it is. It's premature to say what's going on right now."
Needless to say, this offense can't afford to lose Boutte for an extended period of time as he's proven to be one of college football's most dominant receivers in his young career.