BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU followed one of its most uninspiring halves of football this year with its best all-around quarter in pulling away for a 45-10 beatdown of Southern Miss on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.
“At halftime we made some adjustments offensively and defensively,” interim coach Ed Orgeron said. “I think the biggest adjustment was to quit shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Here’s how the Tigers graded out after their shaky start.
LSU crossed the 450-yard barrier for the second straight game after failing to crack 400 even one time in the four coordinated by Cam Cameron.
The deep pass was LSU’s friend for the first time in a long time as Danny Etling passed for 276 yards on just 11 completions. The Tigers had not completed a throw for more than 50 yards all year, but did it on two straight when Etling hit D.J. Chark for an 80-yard score and Malachi Dupre for 63 yards on his next pass.
The Tigers were good on third down on the few occasions they encountered one, converting 5 of 9. And Derrius Guice once again did his thing in Leonard Fournette’s absence, gaining 162 yards on 16 carries.
At halftime, Southern Miss had the game played at the pace it wanted thanks to a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took the first 8 minutes, 2 seconds of the game off the clock. That was thanks to the self-inflicted wounds Orgeron spoke of as a pair of penalties kept the Golden Eagles’ drive alive.
Southern Miss had another sustained drive of 11 plays and 62 yards that resulted in a second-quarter field goal, but that was it. This for an offense that came in scoring at least 31 points against every team it had faced.
LSU forced only one turnover, but it was timely. Safety Jamal Adams changed the complexion of the game with his forced fumble and recovery in the third quarter.
“That was a big-time play,” Dupre said. “For him to cause the fumble and recover it, that was the momentum that we needed.”
Special Teams: B
Josh Growden averaged 58 yards on 3 punts, although he hit one a tad too well as it rolled into the end zone for a touchback.
Touchbacks are a good thing for Cameron Gamble, though, and he booted a pair of kickoffs into the end zone.
Colby Delahoussaye hit his lone field goal attempt.
And the best tackle of the game? Nick Brossette taking down Southern Miss return man Tez Parks.
The downside was a penalty wiping out a great Donte Jackson kickoff return for the second time this year. Jackson is going to break one this year if this area can get cleaned up.
The Tigers looked undisciplined and sloppy in the first quarter coming off their unexpected bye, and that cannot happen when they face Alabama after their scheduled bye.
But apparently everyone could use a Coach O halftime speech in their lives, because the Tigers looked like an entirely different team in the second half. It was also another well-called game by Steve Ensminger as the LSU offense took advantage of what the Southern Miss defense was giving it after struggling to find a flow in the first half.
It was 15 shaky minutes followed by 15 boring minutes followed by 30 of the best minutes LSU has played this season on both sides of the ball.
There is reason to feel good about the offense, especially the passing game, but in the wake of Missouri’s performance against Florida, it is evident Ensminger hasn’t had to coach against a stellar defensive unit yet. Those remaining questions will be answered thoroughly in LSU’s final five games.