Portnoy's Playbook: McMath touchdown, coverage breakdown blows open LSU game

 

Louisiana State Tigers wide receiver Racey McMath (17) is knocked out of bounds by Mississippi State Bulldogs safety Shawn Preston Jr. (12) and cornerback Martin Emerson (1) during the third quarter Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.

Louisiana State Tigers wide receiver Racey McMath (17) is knocked out of bounds by Mississippi State Bulldogs safety Shawn Preston Jr. (12) and cornerback Martin Emerson (1) during the third quarter Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Photo by: Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports

 

Ben Portnoy

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Happy Monday, folks.

 

Welcome back to this week's edition of Portnoy's Playbook. While there is plenty to talk about from Mississippi State's 36-13 loss to No. 2 LSU Saturday in Starkville, I'll preface this week's piece with this: That was a vastly different MSU team than the one that was shocked at Tennessee two weeks ago.

 

Say what you will about MSU coach Joe Moorhead, but his fiery tirade postgame was as much indicative of his team's effort as it may have been an act to play to the fan base. The Bulldogs looked plenty inspired in the early goings against the Tigers and, for a brief moment, gave those in attendance hope that an upset was possible.

 

 

"Once again, not a moral victory at all, I get that part," Moorhead said postgame. "But the process of what we're doing and where we're taking this team is going in the right damn direction and we played our asses off today and we fought."

 

All that said, let's get into this week's play of the game: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow's second quarter 60-yard touchdown pass to receiver Racey McMath.

 

While the MSU defense stood tall with three goal-to-go stops in the first quarter, Burrow's strike to McMath blew the top off of Saturday's game.

 

Lined up in their base 4-2-5 defense, the Bulldogs dug in. LSU gave a tight look with Burrow in the shotgun, receivers Derrick Dillon and Justin Jefferson were lined up in the slot and split out right, respectively. McMath was aligned to the left of the formation -- just a few yards off the line.

 

Off the snap, the MSU defense dropped into coverage. On the right, Jefferson ran a three-yard curl while Dillon took off on a right-to-left post.

 

To the left, McMath ran toward junior safety C.J. Morgan on a vertical route up the left-hand seam. Instead of sticking with McMath, Morgan jumped the route -- running at fullback Tory Carter who had slipped out of the backfield.

 

With Morgan leaping at Carter, McMath slipped behind the MSU defense. Behind him, Burrow lofted a ball down the left sideline. With no defender within 10 yards of him, McMath corralled the ball and raced into the end zone untouched.

 

With McMath's touchdown in tow, Burrow guided the Tigers on back-to-back scoring drives -- the latter of which gave LSU a 22-7 lead heading into halftime.

 

"We just started off slow," Burrow said. "We were moving the ball but didn't execute the way that we have been in the red zone -- that's credit to [Mississippi State]."

 

Speaking with the media postgame, senior defensive end Chauncey Rivers offered some thoughts on the MSU defense's overall performance -- one that was inspired but ultimately incomplete in defeat.

 

"Disappointment," Rivers said of what the mood in the locker room was postgame. "We did not get the job done. At the end of the day, the job is to win and we didn't win. We are disappointed and we have to come back next week and get to work."

 

 

 

Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.

 

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