Saturday’s LSU-Central Michigan match-up was a key game for the Tigers. After starting off slow the first two weeks, LSU pulled it together in week three. The Bayou Bengals defeated the Chippewas 49-21 inside Tiger Stadium on Saturday. For the first time this season, the LSU defense looked alive and played like a complete unit, with the exception of a few plays. The second to last non-conference game of the season gave the program a chance to open the playbook and give newcomers a chance to shine.
LSU-Central Michigan Analysis
The Tigers offense was led by Sophomore quarterback Max Johnson. The starter tossed five touchdowns in the win. While he did still have issues with getting the snap off in time, Johnson looked more poised in the pocket this game. He had one interception that was a pick-six. However, his performance was solid. He joins Joe Burrow and Zach Mettenberger as the only three LSU quarterbacks to throw five touchdowns in a single game in program history.
The Tigers freshman playmakers stole the show in Baton Rouge, too. Corey Kiner entered the game in the second half and had 74 carries on 12 yards with a touchdown. Deion Jones hauled in five catches for 135 yards and two scores. Wide receiver Jack Bech caught five passes for 81 yards and added a touchdown. Overall, the Tigers’ offense looked better in this game. There were times in which the play calling was questionable. But, it was an overall improvement from the two previous games. As the SEC play nears, the play-calling has to get even better than what it was on Saturday.
LSU Defense Came Alive
Central Michigan may have scored 21 points in the game. But those weren’t 21 easy points. The LSU defense swarmed to the ball on nearly every play. On CMU’s first drive, Andre Anthony took a 33-yard fumble return to the house for a touchdown. On the next drive, LSU got an interception. Derek Stingley Jr. made solid plays early in the game and looked like his normal self.
While the defense played well early on, there were struggles, too. Central Michigan hit a few long passes on busted coverages by the Tigers. In the first quarter, Major Burns busted in coverage and the Chippewas went 78 yards in one play.
Stopping the run has been a tough task for the defense so far. But on Saturday, LSU held Central Michigan to just 56 total rushing yards. The unit allowed 228 passing yards but had two turnovers.
Moving Forward: SEC Play
Beating Central Michigan gave the Tigers a better look at where the team is as a whole. There were bright spots in the 49-21 win. But the LSU-Central Michigan game was more about evaluating potential starters moving forward. Both Kiner and Jones deserve a starting role in the offense. Bech does as well. With SEC play beginning next week, the Tigers might need to make changes to the starting lineups.
LSU travels to Mississippi State next week. The team’s first SEC test in Starkville kicks off at 11 am central time. Sure, the win over the Chippewas was a good one. Now, it’s time for the big test in conference play.