Utah State football recap: A by-the-numbers look at LSU’s dominance
Aggies unlikely to compete for SEC title after tough 42-6 loss at LSU
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By the numbers: Inside USU’s tough morning in the bayou
Utah State traveled to Death Valley over the weekend to line up against No. 5 LSU, and it went about as poorly as a game between two FBS teams could go.
The Aggies kept things watchable through the first quarter, even checking a handful of the 1,000 boxes necessary to compete with a playoff-bound Tigers team. Cam Haney managed to collect an interception from QB Joe Burrow deep in LSU territory, Siaosi Mariner gave USU’s offense an early shot of optimism with a nice 35-yard catch and Domink Eberle put the Aggies on the board with a pair of field goals to stave off early concerns of a shutout.
That’s about where the good stuff ends.
Mariner left with an undisclosed injury, Utah State failed to pounce on a pair of LSU fumbles and Burrow kept his name in the Heisman conversation with 344 yards passing and five touchdowns en route to a 42-6 blowout.
The game quickly ran out of any sort of spice from the Aggies, as the offense preferred balling up in a languid cocoon of self-preservation while the defense spent 41 on-field minutes roasting in southern humidity and a never-ending onslaught of third down conversions.
Let’s take a look at this game by the numbers, then never speak of it again.
Games since Utah State last failed to score a touchdown, dating back to 2012’s confounding 6-3 loss to BYU. A dropped surefire TD pass from Jordan Love to TE Caleb Repp makes this sting even more. Love will take a beating for his performance in this one, but there’s only so much a quarterback can do when a player lets a pass this good bounce off his hands.
Aggie victories against Top 5 opponents all-time (0-11). Look, most teams don’t have a stellar record in this category, and this year’s LSU squad is as talented a team as USU has ever faced. Just wanted to put this stat here first to better prepare you for the next paragraph.
Total team rushing yards in four quarters of American Football in the year 2019. Not much of a math guy, but pretty certain USU’s 22 attempts for 19 yards averages out to less than a yard per attempt.
It’s fine to toss most of this game out the window — no USU opponent will touch LSU’s depth the rest of this season — but that’s a major red flag regardless. The RB room is starting to get banged up too, first with Warren and now possibly Bright nursing mysterious ailments.
USU’s mid-season bye couldn’t have come at a better time.
Multi-interception games in Love’s 24 career starts, including three in his last five games (Michigan St. in ‘18, Wake Forest, CSU, LSU). Yes, an inexperienced OL and WR corps probably contributes to this to an extent (still a team sport, guys) but it’s an undeniable trend this season.
Love still has tons of potential to perform at the next level — a bad outing doesn’t mean he’s suddenly lost the tools to be successful. However, it’s hard to see USU contending for MW title if conference defenses capitalize this way once the meat of the Aggies’ schedule picks up in two weeks.
Third down conversions allowed by the Aggie defense (11-of-17). For an extra dose of heartache, USU converted just 1-of-12. The oft-overlooked downside to Utah State’s offense operating at warpspeed is the potential for ultra-quick 3-and-outs, forcing a gassed defense to take the field without a breather. Which is a nice segue into our last bullet point today —
Minutes and seconds Utah State’s defense spent trying to contain the nation’s most potent offensive attack. LSU entered the weekend averaging 58 points (No. 1) and 564 yards (No. 5) per game. With that in mind, allowing “just” 42 points seems almost respectable — but it’s not, it sucks, and so is giving up 601 yards of total offense.
To be clear, a 3-2 overall record with losses to Wake Forest and LSU is far from a ruined season. The Aggies are still 2-0 in conference play with every opportunity to prove themselves a top-tier Mountain West squad — but to do so, they need strong showings this month against Nevada and tricky-as-ever Air Force.
With another bye ahead, this is the time to get healthy, focused and brutally honest in the video room. This Aggie team can still be great, and facing more familiar foes in the coming weeks will reveal what this team is truly made of.