It took LSU a little while to get going, but the Tigers were able to prevail 45-24 over South Carolina Saturday. The biggest story wasn’t Leonard Fournette, shockingly. Freshman tailback Derrius Guice outgained Fournette with 164 yards and a touchdown.
Guice wasn’t the only reason for LSU’s victory, however. It’s time to hand out some grades for LSU’s performance:
LSU’s offense was far from perfect, but it was much better than anything it has shown this season outside of the Auburn game. The Tigers proved a couple of things offensively: First, they can win a game without Fournette running for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Second, they showed off tremendous depth at the running back position. Guice stole the show, but Darrel Williams’ 61 yards and two touchdowns shouldn’t be forgotten.
Quarterback Brandon Harris finally looked good for most of the game. The sophomore completed 18-of-28 passes with 228 yards and two touchdowns. Travin Dural caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, while Malachi Dupre reeled in six balls for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Everything clicked offensively for LSU for the first time all season.
It was a sloppy third quarter for the Tigers defense. LSU allowed 14 points to a pedestrian Gamecocks offense and took a while to finally put South Carolina away. Seven of Perry Orth’s 14 completions went to wideout Pharoh Cooper, who had his way with LSU’s secondary all game.
On the brightside, LSU held South Carolina to just 74 rushing yards and a 3.7 yards per carry average. It wasn’t a dominant performance by LSU, but it was a good outing.
Special teams: C-
The Tigers were automatically demoted to a C after allowing Rashad Fenton to bust a 97-yard kick return for a touchdown. Kicker Trent Domingue also booted the opening kick out of bounds to set South Carolina up with good field position.
Domingue salvaged the day with six extra points and a 29-yard field goal, but LSU’s coverage teams were not particularly great. Punter Jamie Keehn did have a solid day. He averaged 38.3 yards per punt, pinned one punt inside South Carolina’s 20-yard line and didn’t allow a single punt return all game. He was the saving grace on a difficult day for the special teamers.
Any coach will tell you: A gameplan is never perfect. But, credit LSU’s offensive coordinator Cam Cameron for drawing up some plays to help get Harris, and the passing game, going. LSU’s defensive schemes also bottled up the Gamecocks running game and forced Orth to chuck the ball nearly 30 times.
LSU started sluggishly, once again, and actually trailed for the first time this season. The most impressive part about Saturday’s win was that Fournette was not the star. Heck, he might have been LSU’s third- or fourth-best player on offense. Harris, Guice, Dural and Dupre all put up their best games of the season. LSU’s defense made enough plays to limit South Carolina, but the unit will need to perform better against tougher opponents.
Miles: "We should have never allowed a kick returner go all of the way. We'll have to revisit that." #LSU
— Ross Dellenger (@DellengerAdv) October 10, 2015