LSU football stunned by Florida State on blocked PAT in Brian Kelly's debut
- LSU football lost to Florida State in Brian Kelly's debut on a blocked PAT
- The Tigers played a mistake-filled game, muffing two punts and having a field goal blocked in the first half
NEW ORLEANS - LSU football has begun the Brian Kelly era with a gut-punching, self-inflicted loss.
LSU fell 24-23 to Florida State on a blocked PAT after the Tigers scored a touchdown as time expired. Jayden Daniels found Jaray Jenkins in the back of the end zone for the touchdown, but Damian Ramos's extra point was blocked by FSU's Shyheim Brown.
The Seminoles (2-0) were the more cohesive unit from start to finish. Despite that, the Tigers had a chance to tie the game with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter. Malik Nabers' second muffed punt of the night handed the ball right back to FSU, setting the stage for a wild ending.
LSU (0-1) recovered a Florida State fumble moments later at its own 1-yard line, and engineered what would have been a 99-yard tying drive for the ages.
Instead, an ugly performance yielded an uglier defeat. The offense didn't score its first touchdown until the end of the third quarter and the defense consistently failed to get off the field on third down.
In addition to the blocked PAT, LSU also had a field goal blocked in the first half.
Here are three key takeaways from the Tigers' loss to Florida State:
Offensive line struggles
In the first half, Daniels was pressured on nearly every drop-back. FSU was creative with its pass rushing scheme, but the Tigers had trouble blocking one-on-one assignments.
Daniels ended the first half with 47 passing yards and 71 rushing yards, most of which didn't result from designed runs by the Arizona State transfer.
Instead, he was consistently flushed out of the pocket and forced to make plays with his legs. That includes the first snap of the game, when Daniels scampered out of the pocket and ran for 25 yards.
Daniels found more of a groove as a passer in the second half, finishing 25 of 34 for 209 yards and two TDs in his debut. He rushed for 114 yards on 16 carries.
Third down issues on defense
Through three quarters, FSU converted 9-of-13 third downs, including 6-of-9 in the first half.
The problem in the first half resulted from LSU's poor first and second down defense. The Tigers didn't allow many plays downfield but consistently surrendered 4-, 5- and 6-yard chunk plays. In the second half, they surrendered more first downs on third-and-long and looked vulnerable in the middle of the field.
But overall, the Tigers' defense wasn't a disaster. They mostly held the Seminoles in check when it came to limiting big plays through the first three quarters ‒ besides a flea-flicker in the first half that turned into a touchdown.
LSU made some big stops in the red zone. The biggest came in the second quarter when LSU stopped Florida State on a fourth-and-goal following the first muffed punt from LSU.
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Jayden Daniels' athleticism on full display
Daniels constantly was on the run and that wasn't always a bad thing for LSU.
It allowed the veteran to showcase his athleticism and show why he was named the Tigers' starting quarterback, especially behind an offensive line that struggled all night.
At halftime, Kelly said Daniels scrambled too much. But given how poorly the offensive line played, it's hard to blame him. And when he had more time to throw in the second half, Daniels got the ball out quicker as LSU scored touchdowns on its final three drives.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.