LSU’s front rushed four on third-and-7 in the first quarter — including defensive end BJ Ojulari, who plays the Jack position and has the option to drop into coverage — and Travis quickly found McDonald up the middle, who Jay Ward tackled.
When LSU forced a third-and-10 next, it rushed six, and Ojulari’s pressure forced Travis to throw the ball wide down the right sideline.
“The quarterback does a great job of just extending plays using his feet and throwing over players at different types of angles,” Ojulari said.
LSU rushed five on the third-and-9 during the first quarter’s Seminoles’ closing offensive series. Both corners had man-to-man coverage on the edges, while the safeties stayed back. Travis found McDonald up the middle again.
“We had a few communication problems, but overall, we do have to get these guys off the field on third down,” safety Major Burns said. “They converted a couple of third-and-longs, that shouldn’t happen, but got to go back to the drawing board.”
Despite converting on 6 of 9 third-down attempts in the first half, the Seminoles reached the end zone just one in the first half. They converted 5 of 8 attempts on third down in the second half, but one of their missed attempts was a fumble in the fourth quarter that set up the Tigers’ final offensive drive.
Miraculously, LSU was still in the game.
“We saw, when we played with a sense of urgency, we came up with big stops and we answered every score,” Kelly said. “I think the tempo of the offense improved. Players looked comfortable out there. We ran the ball in tough areas when we needed to. That’s good football, and we didn’t have enough of that.”
“Let’s give Florida State’s quarterback a lot of credit. He’s extremely elusive,” Kelly said. “We had 16 missed tackles on him and that’s too many. We had him wrapped up in tackles for loss, which would’ve gotten us off the field, but we’ve got to be better.”
The area that was most vulnerable was up the middle, and that showed in the first half when Travis had 10-yard and 13-yard completions to tight end Camren McDonald.