Few expected Auburn’s offense to put up the fight that it did against LSU football last Saturday. The hosts found themselves up 17-0 after a little over a quarter against one of the nation’s top defenses. The Bayou Bengals had no answer for an Auburn offense that struggled to put up points against Missouri at Jordan-Hare Stadium the week before. In all honesty, it seemed perfectly normal for a Tiger Bowl though.
The visiting Tigers would go on to win the game 21-17 and escape the Plains with a 4-1 overall record. A lot of the credit has been given to LSU’s running game—rightfully so—after it led a struggling offense to complete the comeback late in the third quarter. However, it was an adjustment made by Defensive Coordinator Matt House that propelled the Tigers to victory.
LSU football’s defense made a game-winning adjustment at Auburn
It became evident early on that, despite the criticism in weeks past, Head Coach Bryan Harsin and Offensive Coordinator Eric Kiesau had done their homework. The Auburn coaching duo came up with the perfect game plan to beat LSU with a third-string quarterback in Robby Ashford. They used Ashford’s dual-threat ability to their advantage and they exposed the Tigers’ safeties.
After all, a recent injury to Major Burns left LSU exposed at the top. Arkansas transfer Joe Foucha stepped up in Burns’ absence, but it was important to remember this was Foucha’s first game back from academic suspension. He was bound to be a bit rusty. Thus, the safeties were the weak spot in one of the country’s top defenses.
Ashford would roll out on obvious passing downs to both avoid the Bayou Bengals’ lethal pass rush and give off the appearance that he was set to scramble out. The safeties would then crash as Kelly and House likely told them to watch out for Ashford’s legs, leaving holes in the secondary. Auburn relied on this strategy for much of the first half, and had it not been for some early mistakes, the Tigers could’ve put their visitors to bed before halftime.
Letting LSU go into halftime with a chance to win was the worst thing Auburn could do.
This allowed House to make the necessary adjustments in the locker room. One of the biggest adjustments he made in this regard involved veteran linebacker Micah Baskerville. House would bring the fifth-year senior onto the field on obvious passing downs. Instead of taking the safeties with tracking Ashford, House brought in Baskerville as a quarterback spy.
The hosts wouldn’t score for the remainder of the game and the big plays were limited to a handful in the second half. Baskerville was a huge part of this, but he couldn’t have done it without some help from the front seven. BJ Ojulari and Harold Perkins brought it on the pass rush every down and the defensive line duo of Jaquelin Roy and Mekhi Wingo quietly contained the run.
These individuals stepped up big time and allowed House to put a spy the signal caller with Baskerville. This change from the Tigers’ signal caller helped limit mistakes and big plays from the hosts. Furthermore, it provided a blueprint for how LSU can deal with dual-threat quarterbacks going forward this season.