BATON ROUGE, La. — Whatever Ed Orgeron said at halftime, it must’ve been pretty darn inspiring.
After LSU and Southern Miss snored their way through the first half to a 10-10 stalemate, the Tigers came out firing in the second half, and didn’t miss on many of those shots, leading to a 45-10 victory. LSU seized the lead less than three minutes into the third quarter when Derrius Guice broke free for a 61-yard touchdown, and then he and his teammates benefitted from big play after big play.
Jamal Adams stripped the ball and recovered it. Guice broke free for another TD. Danny Etling found D.J. Chark for an 80-yard touchdown. Then Etling found Malachi Dupre for a 63-yard score. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, LSU led by four scores.
D.J. Chark: Chark has gone from an afterthought on the LSU receivers’ depth chart to the team’s most potent, versatile weapon in space this season. Chark scored LSU’s first touchdown Saturday on a 19-yard jet sweep in the first quarter, but made his biggest contribution with the 80-yard catch in the third. Chark accounted for 99 yards of total offense with those two touchdowns Saturday.
LSU’s rush defense: LSU’s already-stingy rush defense asserted itself in a big way Saturday. Southern Miss came into today’s game averaging nearly five yards per carry (4.95), but led by Kendell Beckwith (see below) and Duke Riley’s combined 26 tackles from the inside linebacker positions, LSU held Southern Miss to a feeble 2.3 yards per carry. It’s just another feather in the cap of Dave Aranda’s dominant front seven.
Darrel Williams: Coming off a 100-yard showing when LSU last took the field against Missouri, the expectation was that Williams would continue to be a suitable option opposite Derrius Guice in the LSU backfield. He wasn’t. Williams rushed just four times for five yards in the game’s first three quarters, proving to only be effective against Southern Miss’s backups, and even then he wasn’t all that effective.
Brandon Harris: When Ed Orgeron signaled for the backup offense to come in as the clock ticked away in the fourth quarter, nearly every second-teamer came in. Brandon Harris wasn’t one of them. Etling stayed in the game and commanded the offense, even with second-teamers lining up across the offensive line and in the backfield. This is Etling’s team. Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger continue to make that very clear.
Kendell Beckwith: Somehow, a man who came into Saturday’s game averaging nine tackles per contest made that total look laughable. Beckwith finished with an outstanding 15 tackles, two of which for loss, to lead the team. 12 of those tackles came in the first half when the score was tight, but Beckwith was more or less neutralized in the second half when Southern Miss starting throwing the ball on nearly every play.
Jamal Adams: He’s not a top-tier NFL prospect for nothing. Adams was nothing short of exception as an in-the-box safety Saturday, recording 11 tackles, 1.5 of which for loss, plus a forced and recovered fumble to catalyze LSU’s huge point swing in the third quarter. Before Saturday’s game, Adams had 0.5 TFLs and hadn’t forced a turnover all season. The safety is now accountable for six turnovers in his three years at LSU.