BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU and Southern Miss were tied 10-10 heading into the locker room Saturday night, but a more energized Tigers team came out in the second half.
The Tigers broke loose for four unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter and a 35-0 overall run in the second half to cruise past visiting Southern Miss for a 45-10 win.
What was the difference? Why did LSU look like a different team in the second half? Is Ed Orgeron that good at making halftime speeches?
Well, maybe. But the differences are clear.
Here’s a look at some of the key plays from that momentum-altering third quarter and why they changed the game:
LSU opens in an I-formation with two wide receivers split to the right. Danny Etling hands it off to Derrius Guice to the weak side — on the short side of the field — and the offensive line creates a wealth of running room for No. 5.
Left guard Maea Teuhema and left tackle K.J. Malone are key to the play. Teuhema lets the defensive end shaded to his left to run through the B gap, then he attacks the linebacker on the second level. Malone kicks out the stand-up linebacker, who would be the best bet to break in and bring down Guice.
By the time Teuhema’s lineman gets past the line of scrimmage, Guice and lead blocker J.D. Moore are past him, and LSU’s fullback has a clear path to take care of any would-be tacklers gunning for Guice. But Guice is way too quick and is off to the races to put LSU ahead early in the third quarter.
Adams will be a first-round NFL draft pick and it’s because he doesn’t just make plays. He creates them.
LSU’s all-world safety, who at the snap is lined up next to linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley, takes a unique angle on the Southern Miss running back.
Instead of wrapping up the ballcarrier for a loss, Adams aims to strip the ball. He rips the rock loose and puts it so far behind the line of scrimmage that only an LSU defender could pounce on it. And that defender was Adams himself.
Guice’s 61-yard run may have sparked the Tigers, but Adams’ forced fumble and recovery was the catalyst. This provided the confidence that this was LSU’s game to win.
LSU capitalized off turnover, Guice finds end zone again
Points off turnovers.
LSU only had 7 against Southern Miss, but these points continued to shift momentum to LSU’s corner.
After Adams’ fumble recovery, LSU wasted no time getting back to business with its run game. In a unique formation — with Etling lined up in the shotgun flanked by Guice, three wide receivers split wide and the tight end lined up as an H-back.
Tight end Colin Jeter pulls at the snap as Etling hands off to Guice, who runs a reverse counter toward the weak side of the field. Credit Guice for making a fantastic move as Jeter races toward his defender, cutting inside then toward the sideline after Travin Dural pushes a defensive back inside.
Simply put: Guice is too quick for any Southern Miss defender. That was made overly evident despite some shaky blocking, but great execution on this play.
LSU’s offense had a bit of reputation through the first half of the season. Yeah, it became a run-dominated team.
Interim offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger has used that to his advantage. How? By lining up in what appears to be a run-based formation for play-action throws. Orgeron said during his postgame press conference he wants to see more of this down the stretch.
In this situation, LSU is in a two-receiver set, with Jeter lined up to the left side of the formation and an H-back right behind him. Guice is the lone back. It’s similar to the formation used on Guice’s 20-yard scoring scamper, but this time it’s a run fake to set up the deep ball.
Etling drops back and fakes it to the running back, then delivers a dart to D.J. Chark. LSU’s quarterback was trying to find Chark for much of the first half, but the two could not get on the same page. That instantly was corrected by Chark running a comeback route ahead of the Southern Miss defensive back, then turning up the jets to run past the rest of the secondary for the 80-yard score.
By the way, that lengthy touchdown marked the eighth LSU touchdown of 80 yards or longer since 1965.
LSU puts up 4th TD behind Malachi Dupre’s long ball
What do you know? Another run-based formation.
LSU has two wide receivers split out, Jeter at tight end on the right side of the formation and a fullback ahead of Guice in the backfield. Etling drops back past the fullback, who’s sweeping toward the right side of the formation like it’s a running play, and fakes it to Guice before getting a 7-step drop and plenty of time to examine the field.
Etling wastes little time because Dupre is 8 yards ahead of the nearest corner and about 6 yards to the right of the nearest safety. Dupre eludes the safety to make the grab, maintains his balance and is off to the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. He added another on a 23-yard strike in the fourth quarter.
Like so many of the names mentioned in this turnaround plot, Dupre is a potential first- or second-round pick. Thus far, he’s been a significant part of LSU’s success despite a slow and curious start to the season. He continues to look like he’ll be a factor down the stretch.
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