Defense, Running Game Give LSU Big Win Over Aggies
BATON ROUGE — LSU held Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and No. 9 Texas A&M to the lowest offensive output in the past two seasons, as the Tigers controlled the clock and dominated the Aggies, 34-10, on a wet and cool Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
No. 18 LSU (8-3, 4-3 SEC), which played host to the Aggies for the first time since 1994, forced a pair of turnovers and allowed only 299 yards. The Tigers also turned over the Aggies on downs twice while holding a 40:19-19:41 advantage in time of possession – its largest margin since Nov. 4, 2006, at Tennessee.
Texas A&M streaks of nine-straight games with 500-plus yards and 13-straight scoring 40 points both ended at the hand of an young LSU defense that has continued to improve with experience against some of the top teams in the country.
Offensively, running back Terrence Magee ran for a career-best 149 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown while Jeremy Hill added 76 yards on 14 runs. Alfred Blue came off the bench with 61 yards late in the game, and Kenny Hilliard scored the Tigers final touchdown from 2 yards in the third quarter.
LSU outrushed Texas A&M, 324-75. The 55 Tiger rushing attempts were its most since the 2011 Cotton Bowl victory over the Aggies and the most in the regular season since 2004.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger overcame a few drops to complete 11-of-20 passes for 193 yards with two touchdowns to wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Landry had four catches for 87 yards with TD’s of 10 and 40 yards.
Both Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. have eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in 2013, becoming the first duo at LSU to do so in the same season. LSU outgained Texas A&M, 517-299.
LSU was 11 of 17 on third down, tying for the second-most conversions under LSU head coach Les Miles.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC) managed only 5 of 14 on third down and struggled against the LSU defensive strategy throughout the contest. LSU covered in the secondary when it needed to cover, blitzed the Manziel at times and maintained its discipline against the elusive quarterback.
Manziel, who lost on the road for the first time in his career, completed 16-of-41 passes for 224 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. Seventy-three of his yards came in a 24-second drive just before halftime that results in the Aggies’ only touchdown, a 51-yarder to Derel Walker. Walker finished with 130 yards receiving, while Mike Evans was limited to 51 yards on four catches while covered by LSU freshman cornerback Rashard Robinson.
Manziel led the Aggies in rushing with 54 net yards on 12 carries with two sacks. The next leading rusher was Ben Malena with 11 yards on three carries.
The Aggies won the toss and elected to put the ball in Manziel’s hands to start the game. The Aggies earned a first down with a 14-yard pass to midfield but were stopped short of a first down when LSU defensive end Jermauria Rasco caught Manziel scrambling at the LSU 46.
After a punt to the LSU 16, the Tigers’ offense took the field for the first time. Hill ran four-straight times to the 34 but a 2-yard catch by Beckham Jr. came up inches short of a first down. On fourth-and-inches, backup quarterback Anthony Jennings entered attempted a sneak from under center but was ruled to come up short – and the call was confirmed after Miles challenged and asked for an official video review.
The Aggies took over at the LSU 39, but were stymied again. After lining up for a 52-yard field goal into a stiff north breeze, Texas A&M called a timeout and put its offense back on the field. Once again, Manziel was stopped short of the first down marker, this time by defensive end Danielle Hunter.
LSU took possession at its 31, but a dropped pass in open space by fullback Connor Neighbors ended its drive after three plays. Jamie Keehn‘s 43-yard punt was fair caught at the Aggies 19, but the Tigers were flagged for fair catch interference to give up 15 yards.
The penalty didn’t affect the LSU defense, as they allowed only two yards on the drive before forcing a 49-yard punt by Drew Kaser.
From its 29, LSU used Magee to single-handedly score the first touchdown of the game. After a 5-yard run to start the drive, the junior running back broke loose with a run up the middle, cut to the left sideline before being tackled at the Aggies 1. Three plays after his 65-yard run, Magee scored a 1-yard touchdown to put the Tigers ahead 7-0 with 2:51 left in the opening quarter.
A holding penalty on the ensuing drive kept Manziel at bay and led to another Texas A&M three-and-out and a 48-yard punt.
Mettenberger, who had thrown only three passes in the first quarter, opened LSU’s drive with a 36-yard catch and run by tight end Dillon Gordon to the Aggies 29. Magee earned another first down with a 6-yard run to the 14. On third-and-6 from the 10, Mettenberger connected with Landry slanting from the left slot at the 4 and the speedy receiver did the rest. The touchdown put LSU ahead 14-0 with 13:15 remaining in the half.
Starting the next drive from his 8 after a personal foul on the Aggies, Manziel attempted to answer the score through the air. Completions of 23 yards Walker and 12 yards to Travis Labhart were followed by a pass interference penalty on the Tigers. From the LSU 42, Manziel ran for 10 yards and then picked up a third-and-7 with a 9-yard pass to Walker. Another Manziel 11-yard run to the LSU 9 gave the Aggies a first-and-goal. After a 6-yard run by Malena to the 3, LSU pressured Manziel into three-straight incomplete passes and another turnover on downs. The 89-yard drive went for naught and LSU took over on downs for the second time.
Facing a third-and-9 from the LSU 4, Hill came up a yard short of the first down. Under pressure, Keehn’s punt went sideways into the Texas A&M sideline for only 12 yards.
With perfect field position at the LSU 26, Manziel took a 9-yard sack from Hunter on first down and wasn’t able to cross into the LSU red zone. A 41-yard field goal by Josh Lambo gave the Aggies their first points and LSU led 14-3 with 6:00 remaining in the half.
An illegal block and a false start called on LSU put the Tigers deep in their territory at the 3. On third-and-16, Beckham Jr. caught a 19-yard pass for a first down to the LSU 22. The Aggies were then flagged for pass interference on Beckham Jr. and roughing Mettenberger to give LSU another first down at its 37. The Tigers picked up another third-down conversion with a 20-yard catch and run by Hill to the Aggies 42. Two plays later, Landry caught a pass at the 13 and darted into the endzone for a 40-yard touchdown reception.
LSU led 21-3 with 1:37 remaining in the half.
With only 92 seconds left, Manziel was able to quickly answer with his only touchdown pass of the game. Texas A&M capped a three-play, 24-second drive with a 51-yard touchdown catch and run by Walker, who dashed past the LSU secondary after cornerback Tre’Davious White slipped attempting to cover the receiver.
Texas A&M cut the deficit to 21-10 going to the lockerroom. Without the final two plays for 73 yards, the Aggies were outgained in the half, 275-125.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, LSU controlled the ball and ran more than six minutes off the clock before settling for a 21-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye with 8:57 left in the quarter. LSU pushed its advantage to 24-10.
On the Aggies’ first drive of the half, Manziel was intercepted by Robinson on a third-and-13 pass deep along the LSU sideline. Robinson was initially ruled out of bounds, but video review overturned the call for Robinson’s first interception as a Tiger at the LSU 39.
LSU turned the mistake and short field into points, as Kenny Hilliard finished a nine-play, 61-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that put LSU ahead 31-10 with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter.
As its defense continued to frustrate Manziel and the Aggies, the Tigers continued to run the ball and add to its lead. A 36-yard field goal by Delahoussaye with 7:57 remaining gave the Tigers the final advantage.
Late in the fourth quarter, Manziel’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Evans was overturned by video review. On the next play, Craig Loston stepped in front of a receiver for an interception at the goalline that put the game on ice.
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
“First of all, I want to say congratulations to Kevin Sumlin. What a magnificent team he’s got. That quarterback is very special. They played extremely hard. Again, congratulations to those Aggies and those Aggie fans. Sometimes as a head coach, you keep asking your defensive staff ‘you need to do this, you need to do this, you need to do this,’ so many times that the defensive staff says, ‘We got that, we understand that.’ The handling of the head coach in allowing me to participate but not overwhelm is just what they did. I just want you to know John Chavis, Brick Haley, Corey Raymond; those three were spectacular in that game. At halftime, [Chavis] talked to the defense and here’s what he said: he said, ‘Listen, it’s not the scheme. It’s the great effort and energy of the guys that are playing for LSU on defense.’ He said, ‘You’ve got 30 more minutes and you’ve got to play just like that.’ Hats off to that defense. That defense did exactly that. Offensively, we talked about playing efficient football. The defense was going to get them stopped and we were going to have to possess the ball, to drive the ball, and the only complaint I have is penalties. But we didn’t have a turnover and we kept the ball 40 minutes to the opponent’s 20 and that’s the recipe for victory. Terrence Magee gets 150 [rushing yards]. We have three 1,000-yard performers on the year thus far. Jeremy Hill goes over 1,000 yards rushing. Jarvis Landry goes over 1,000 yards in [receiving] and [Odell] Beckham as well. In fact, Coach [Cam] Cameron and the offensive staff and the offensive line were magnificent. If you looked at Zach [Mettenberger], he did what his team needed him to do and his offensive line, when he went back to pass, there wasn’t anybody around him. He led his team. Special teams did what they were supposed to. It was a team victory. You have to play all three phases. You cannot let an opponent have an advantage in another spot. So way to go Tigers. Nice job. I thought they played extremely well.”
On the performance of the LSU defense tonight…
“You set up the plan and you stick to it and you practice it and you tell them, ‘This is what it’s going to be like.’ When it starts to go that way, they say, ‘I got this.’ And that’s what happened. We didn’t turn the ball over, we got movement at the point of attack. The defense rushed and spilled and the defense rushed and maintained leverage. We put speed on the field and the young corners – the secondary – covered. Big play by [Craig] Loston. Two picks to no turnovers. Lamin Barrow had a big game. It goes on and on. Jermauria Rasco had a big game. That’s the kind of LSU defense that we’re used to.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the depth of LSU’s offense tonight…
“There are so many guys that can help us offensively. We are so deep in every position. Even when Odell (Beckham) and Jarvis (Landry) aren’t having their best game, others guys step up and make big plays for us. All of our running backs are great. Honestly, all of our success comes from the offensive line and those five guys up front. When they are playing well, we feed off them. They open holes for the running game and give me time to dissect the defense and get the ball to Jarvis and Odell.”
On the game plan against Texas A&M…
“Our main plan was to keep (Johnny) Manziel and their offense off the field as much as possible. We did a great job at that tonight and so did our defense. They did a great job of eliminating him from making some of those big plays he is used to making.”
RB Jeremy Hill
On running physically against Texas A&M…
“I think we knew we could have some success running the ball tonight. We knew that the running backs would have to run physically. They (Texas A&M) haven’t faced many powerful running backs this season, and that would be an advantage for us. I think we did a great job of rotating the backs tonight. We kept fresh legs in there, and I think it showed.”
On his running performance tonight…
“We just had a great game plan in our offensive line. They came out and blocked well, and the fullbacks blocked well too. It wasn’t anything I did. I give all the credit to those guys.”
On his progression throughout the year…
“My progression has increased a lot. I have been working hard. Jalen Mills and the rest of my teammates are always pushing me and telling me what I need to work on. We get extra practice after we are done practicing, so we just get extra work to work on being fundamentally sound.”
On how the defense changed after holding A&M to only a field goal…
“It was a big momentum boost. This defense has been working hard these two weeks. Chief has just set up a great defense. Coach Raymond has been working on us. We were ready to go out and just play.”
On how tonight was big for the younger defensive players…
“It was big. We have a bright future, my teammates and I. We’re just starting to bond together. Every time we are on the field together it is just like clockwork.”
If he ever had doubts about being here…
“At first I had some doubts. After playing every night, staying humble and just waiting for my chance, and trying to get a little bit of work out over the summer.”
On if he knew he was playing start to finish tonight…
“I just go out there and do my best and play to the best of my ability. I do everything I can to help my team out. I just played fundamentally sound. I just stuck to the fundamentals that Coach (Chavis) told me to do and what we went over.”
On playing against Johnny Manziel…
“Kind of like last year, we did a good job of keeping him on sidelines. Tonight we just did the same thing. We were able to keep Manziel moving around in the pocket. We made him throw across the field and he was not always able to make the throws.
CB Jalen Mills
On the preparation for A&M…
“Just during individuals we would really focus on coming down and tackling. If he (Johnny Manziel) was blitzing or running down the field, we had to be ready. He is a very elusive player. It is very big. We just have to finish strong after this.”
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN QUOTES
Opening statement …
“I thought that was a really, really hard football game, and you have to give LSU a lot of credit across the board. I felt that we had a chance right there before the half to get something going and come back out in the third quarter. Obviously, we weren’t good enough on third downs. I said before the game that we’re two of the better third down conversion teams in the country playing tonight, and (LSU) showed why they’re the No. 1 third down conversion team. We weren’t able to stay on the field offensively, and because of that, our defense got grinded down. You have to give LSU credit across the board. I felt that they did some things to us defensively. We couldn’t make enough plays in the game offensively to get in the rhythm of any sort. We have to give them credit for that, and offensively, they stuck to their plan. I thought our defense held up for a long time but gave up a couple big plays that separated us. That’s something that we need to learn from. I think you get on the road and the crowd gets into it. I thought we started pressing a little bit offensively, and that showed.”
On Texas A&M defense …
“Everything works together. You can’t keep sending them back out here, and three-and-outs. Everybody’s used to it; our team is used to it. We’re able to score points, and when we moved the ball we stalled out. We didn’t have a lot of footing penalty-wise. They came at some inopportune times, but everything works together when you have a defensive unit like that playing hard, and you gave up a couple big plays. Really in the first half as a team, we didn’t help (the defense) offensively. I thought kicking game wise, we started off pretty good. As we moved down the field, we weren’t able to put the ball in the end zone. All of those things work together, you ask your defense to keep going, and they went out there probably about as long as they could.”
On problems with offense …
“It’s a combination of things. It’s not like (LSU) played one defense the whole night. Sometimes, it’s one thing here or there. That’s why you have to give them credit. They were mixing up things and playing man-to-man, challenging receivers and there were some calls that could go either way. I know both sides were complaining during the game about the contact down the field with receivers. For the most part, that’s how they’re going to call the game. You have to adjust and play that way. We were challenged. We lost Malcome Kennedy, who’s been a big part of what we do right there in the middle of the field. I tried to move Travis Labhart into his position and bring LaQuvionte Gonzalez in to play Labhart’s position. There were a couple times out there where we had some side adjustments and some things there with different people in positions playing that really didn’t work out. It was a combination of things, but those are all excuses. Like I said, across the board, you have to give LSU credit for the way they played tonight.”
TEXAS A&M PLAYER QUOTES
QB Johnny Manziel
On the offensive struggles…
“You have to come out and establish a tempo, get some things going, and we could never really get it going. You have to give a lot of credit to them. They came out and mixed a lot of things up. They kept us guessing, and it really took us awhile to figure it out. You have to give a lot of credit to them. They have a very talented defense regardless of how their season’s gone. I think they came out and played a heck of a game defensively scheme-wise and all. They continued to get a free rusher at will. We’ve got to get back to the basics, the fundamentals of pitch and catch and throwing the football around. If we don’t establish that and don’t get that going, we don’t have much chance.”
On the wind affecting his throws…
“I didn’t really notice it that much. I felt like I had Mike [Evans] on a deep route where he did a great job of getting open. It’s a throw that I make 95 percent of the time, and it’s what we work on every week. If anything, it took off a little more than not flying. There was a third down to Malcome [Kennedy] in between on an out route that it hit him a little bit lower of where I wanted to put it, and he just dropped it. There were times where we really needed to execute, make some plays, and we just didn’t make them. They did a great job of containing our high-tempo, high-powered offense.”
On his thumb injury affecting his play…
“It’s been a factor throughout the past couple of weeks, but I had nothing to do. I felt like I came out and spun the ball pretty well. We just didn’t get the pitch and catch that we wanted and completing passes. It’s not many times that we come into halftime to look at the stat sheet and it’s 8-for-22 [passing]. A big thing for me is getting completions early and some of the other games we go 10-for-10, 7-for-8 and start completing some high percentage passes. That’s what we do, and we have to do that to be successful. Having a lot of drops and incomplete passes – both on my part and the offense – it can’t happen and make for a good outcome.”
On the frustration of not getting anything going on offense…
“It was just one of those days. We came in with a lot of energy and excitement. It had nothing to do with being on the road or the rowdiness. We just didn’t play fundamental football like we needed to. That’s the bottom line.”
WR Travis Labhart
On the outcome of the game…
“We arrived and had a lot of good energy. Early on, like Johnny said we had trouble getting down the field, and we’re a team that likes to start fast. We didn’t do that tonight and a lot of credit to them for making us change up our game plan and who we are. We have to be able to overcome adversity, and we weren’t able to do that tonight. Individually, you can’t take anything away from them. In man coverage, they did a good job, they got to the quarterback, [and] they tackled well and defended balls. We have to make more plays. We just weren’t able to do that tonight.”
On the loss coming off of a bye week…
“Every game you lose is frustrating. You always look back and try to figure out the things you could have done or that you didn’t do. During the bye week, I think we practiced well. We were able to get things accomplished and get people back healthy. We worked hard in the bye week. A lot of games are lost during practice, but I don’t think we did that this week. We just got out here and things weren’t clicking.”
TEXAS A&M DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DL Julien Obioha
On LSU getting long conversions…
“They were giving the ball to number 80 and number three. During the bye week this week, we stressed that we needed to make sure that Zach [Mettenberger] could not get the ball to number 80 and number three. I think nearly every third down they converted was to one of those receivers. We did not do a good job of locking them up and containing them. I tip my hat to Jarvis [Landry]. He did a great job. I tip my hat to Odell Beckham and everyone on their offense.”
On his coming home to Louisiana…
“I knew a lot of guys on the team. I knew a lot of people in those stands. That was not the message I wanted to send tonight.”
On LSU’s run game…
“We knew what we were getting into. The type of offense LSU is is usually run-run-pass. So, we expected a lot of runs from LSU. We knew that had a talented back and talented offensive line. We expected runs coming into today’s ball game. I grew up watching LSU football so I knew that had a talented back. I know they do not have just one running back; they have a feature of running backs. So, I was not surprised Terrance Magee got in the game, Alfred Blue got in the game, or that Jeremy Hill got in the game. I knew that they were going to have four good running backs to hand the ball off to.”
On LSU’s offense…
“Mettenberger just did a good job of avoiding the pressure and getting the ball to Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. There were a dawn of good plays. Their two receivers just kept getting open.”
On next week’s game against Missouri…
“Now it is all about Missouri. I know this loss hurts. Guys are very disappointed with the way that we played today. It is all about Missouri now, we cannot do anything about the game today.”