BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU probably shouldn’t make a habit of changing coaches every week, but danged if it wasn’t an effective strategy against Missouri.
Everything felt different watching the Tigers play their first game under Ed Orgeron. For most people, it was probably downright disorienting. So, let us help you through your disbelief at what you witnessed in a 42-7 shellacking of Mizzou. As you will see from the following report card, everything you saw actually happened.
This offense — this previously dreadful unit — went from averaging 16.6 points per game against FBS opponents to setting a school record for yards against a SEC opponent. LSU’s 634-yard performance broke the old mark of 630, which was first set against Mississippi State in 1967 and tied against Ole Miss in 1987. That’s a really long time for a record to stand, particularly when you think of the dizzying array of offensive talent that has come through LSU in the decades since.
And the Tigers did it without their most talented offensive player, Leonard Fournette. It really was a marvel to watch, and an example of why many thought LSU could be the best team in the nation going into the season.
The SEC’s second-most powerful offense had to resort to a trick play in the fourth quarter to avoid getting shut out. Maybe should have saved that one for a game that mattered, Mizzou, but we get it. Getting blanked is a deeply embarrassing feeling.
Missouri was held nearly 300 yards below its season average and only held the ball for 17 minutes. J’Mon Moore, the SEC’s top receiver, was limited to 1 catch for 16 yards by Tre’Davious White. And LSU got 2 sacks against an offensive line that only allowed 1 all year.
Special Teams: C+
Things got off to an ominous start when Cameron Gamble sent the opening kickoff of the Orgeron era out of bounds. And Colby Delahoussaye missed a 47-yard field goal.
But Josh Growden averaged 47.7 yards on his 3 punts, and Missouri started at the 25 or worse on six Gamble kickoffs.
Other than that, special teams simply wasn’t a factor in this game for either team.
Is it really this simple? Just running off Les Miles and Cam Cameron changes everything?
The rest of the season will tell. But Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger could not have done any better in their new roles at LSU. And don’t forget the marvelous game dialed up by Dave Aranda against a powerful offense that was made to look downright Vandy-like.
The best game LSU has played this season. If it is a precursor of things to come, the Tigers may just be able to do the unthinkable and make a run to a SEC West title. Or maybe it is an anomaly that will stick out when the season ends. Whatever the case may be, the performance on Saturday makes LSU a compelling team to watch the rest of the season. And as of one week ago, that could not be said to be true.