TIGERS GAMER: LSU loses a heartbreaker in OT to Arkansas

As a wise man once said, “Football is a team game.”

But the most important member of that team is the starting quarterback. Unfortunately, no team or player can overcome bad coaching.

We knew season-long starter Max Johnson and freshman backup Garrett Nussmeier were going to split reps in this game, but after the first two drives of LSU’s offense, it was obvious Johnson was going to be pulled sooner than expected.

Missing wide open throws 5-yards down field, holding on to the ball to long and showing signs of happy feet continued for Johnson. The criticism of Max is not entirely fair. He’s been poorly coached and protected all season long.

However, football is not a fair and forgiving game in the SEC. Nussmeier went in on the Tigers third possession and the first play went deep into the endzone to former Acadiana prep star Malik Nabors. The pass was incomplete, but it showed the excitement fans had been anticipating for several weeks.

Most of Garrett’s first three passes were deep. While it showed off his arm strength, offensive coordinator Jake Peetz was sacrificing getting his young QB into a rhythm with something short and easy.

On the next possession, Nussmeier was pressured up the middle, broke a tackle, spun around to the left side and threw against his body to former STM receiver Jack Bech in the back of the endzone for a toe-tapping 29-yard touchdown pass. It was his first completed pass of the game that put LSU up 10-3 in the 2nd quarter.

During SEC media days, offensive tackle Austin Deculus said Garrett showed off a lot of “Patrick Mahomes-type plays” in practice – that TD pass certainly looked like one.

Nussmeier finished 18-31, 179 yards 1TD and 2INTs. Bech had 4 catches for 66 yards and a TD.  

Not lost in the first half was LSU’s defense who forced four consecutive 3-and-outs against the Hogs offense.

Behind the flashy plays from Garett Nussmier, the offense still didn’t have a rhythm going until the next possession when the Tigers complete three straight short and intermediate passes to get inside the redzone.

Then, Jake Peetz – in all of his qualifications – decided to take the ball out of his QB’s hands and run wildcat with Ty Davis-Price. It resulted in a fumble and the score remined a one possession game going into halftime.

The defense had several opportunities to stop Arkansas on the first possession of the second half, but ultimately broke on a long TD pass to tie the game at 10-10.

Nussmeier threw an interception on the ensuing possession and all the momentum was with the Razorbacks. Arkansas went for a fake kick where the place holder ran for 23-yards. The Tiger defense stood tall again to force a 27-yard field goal that put the Hogs up 13-10 to start the 4th quarter.

The Tigers’ offense drove down the field to tie the game on a Cade York field goal from 45-yards.

Both teams’ offense stalled in the final minutes of the game that forced overtime. LSU got the ball first and after a sack on 2nd down, Nussmeier converted a 24-yard pass to Nabors to put the Tigers in field goal range.

LSU called a fade to the end zone that was intercepted by Arkansas. The Hogs kicked field goal three plays later to win 16-13 in OT.

LSU is now 4-6 on the season and will have to win their last two games against ULM and Texas A&M in order to be bowl eligible.