Max Johnson dropped back to pass in the third quarter and saw a free runner sprinting right for him after blowing past right tackle Austin Deculus untouched. The freshman dodged the first pass rusher, scrambled out of the pocket and was met by two more Texas A&M defensive linemen, going down for what was one of LSU's three allowed sacks on the night.
That play was a microcosm of the effort from the LSU offense on Saturday night in College Station as the Tigers were stymied to 267 yards of total offense to fall to No. 5 Texas A&M 20-7.
The first half was one of missed opportunity and inefficiency for the LSU offense, a trend that carried throughout all of Saturday evening's game. While the Aggies underwent struggles of their own, a 52-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Spiller was the saving grace for them. Spiller was the only weapon going for Texas A&M, rushing for 125 yards on 15 carries while the LSU secondary clamped down on Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond.
LSU's secondary was playing so well in the first half that freshman quarterback TJ Finley, had more passing yards (89) than Mond (77), while playing in three less series rotating with Max Johnson. But at the same time, the Tigers couldn't find any rhythm on offense. Finley threw for 118 yards on 9-of-25 passing and two costly interceptions.
A putrid 2-for-16 showing on third downs was determined by Finley missed passes, protection was mundane and the running attack couldn't get anything more than one and two-yard gains. Heading into the game, LSU's ability to establish the run was one of the main focuses pinpointed throughout the week and just wasn't able to get it going.
LSU had no play go its way in the first half as a missed field goal from Cade York and overturned touchdown to Kayshon Boutte squandered the two best opportunities for points in the opening 30 minutes of play. After a timely Mond fumble in the second quarter with the Tigers trailing 10-0, a 54-yard catch and run to Terrace Marshall followed by the pass to Boutte appeared to give LSU the momentum swing it needed.
The reversal of the touchdown was followed by a tipped interception that completely flipped the momentum back to the Aggies and the LSU offense couldn't recover.
Even the special teams, which had been the most consistent part of this team, struggled when it counted most between the missed York field goal and a rogue punt that hit an LSU blocker on a punt return, leading to an extra possession for the Aggies.
It only got worse for the LSU offense in the second half as an abhorrent pick six from Finley pretty much put a pin in the game. The image of Ed Orgeron of exploding on the sidelines accurately resembled the performance on offense throughout the evening.
LSU averaged 3.7 yards per play and the offensive line turned in perhaps its worst performance of the season. The Tigers gained just 36 yards on the ground and Johnson and Finley were constantly under pressure.
Johnson was able to lead a late fourth quarter drive of 13 plays and 81 yards that ended in a touchdown completion to Marshall, who now has 23 career touchdowns. Marshall hauled in 10 catches for 134 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers.
Up next for the Tigers is a home date with the No. 1 team in the country when Alabama comes to town for its rescheduled game.