Rapid Reaction: Shorthanded LSU squad blown out by Kansas State in Texas Bowl
LSU played a bowl game with fewer than 40 scholarship players, numerous grad assistants and analysts promoted to temporary on-field roles and a wide receiver at quarterback. It went about as one would expect. Kansas State won Tuesday night’s Texas Bowl in a 42-20 blowout.
In addition to LSU being down to 38 scholarship players tonite vs K-State, most of the Tigers position coaches are analysts: OL (Joe Henry); RBs (Mario Acitelli); WRs (Carter Sheridan); LBs (Jake Olsen); CBs (Dwayne Thomas); STC (Chris Forestier) and TE coach Derek Shay is a GA.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 4, 2022
In order to preserve Garrett Nussmeier’s 2021 redshirt, LSU turned to fifth-year wide receiver Jontre Kirklin at quarterback. He finished 7-of-11 passing for 138 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions while leading the Tiger ground game with 11 rushes for 61 yards.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson and running back Deuce Vaughn had 3 touchdowns a piece for the Wildcats. Thompson spread the ball around to 10 KSU receivers, going 21-of-28 for 259 yards. Vaughn got the bulk of the carries with 21 rushes for 146 yards.
Kansas State broke the scoring ice at the 9:13 mark of the first quarter, going 75 yards on 11 plays on the opening possession. On the following possession, LSU was unable to pick up a first down, punting on fourth-and-12 after a 2-penalty drive. It would be that kind of night in Houston.
Kansas State made it 14-0 with an 18-play, 9:16 scoring drive that carried into the second quarter. The play count through the first 3 possessions was 29 for KSU and 3 for an undermanned LSU squad. The final tally was 62-48 in total plays, favoring Kansas State.
LSU’s second drive ended on 3 plays when Kirklin threw an interception. It took KSU just 6 plays to make it 21-0.
LSU got on the board just before the half. A 13-play, 75-yard drive was capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass from Kirklin to Jaray Jenkins.
Unfortunately, LSU’s strong finish to the first half did not translate into any second-half momentum. The Tigers went three-and-out to open the half. The Wildcats went 61 yards on 7 plays to extend their lead to 28-7 with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
After the three-and-out, LSU’s next 2 drives ended in a turnover on downs and an interception, Kirklin’s second of the night.
Kansas State widened its lead to 42-7 by scoring touchdowns on its first 2 fourth-quarter possessions. Kirklin found Malik Nabers for a 15-yard touchdown on fourth-and-12 to make it 42-14 with 3:35 left.
On the final play of the game, Kirklin hit Chris Hilton for an 81-yard touchdown. There was no extra point attempt.
KSU outgained LSU 442 yards to 308, but the Tiger had more tackles for loss (6-3) and sacks (2-0) in the game. The Tigers finished 6-7 for the 2021 season. Kansas State improved to 8-5 with the bowl victory.
On to the Brian Kelly era in Baton Rouge.