If Ed Orgeron is auditioning to be LSU’s head coach full-time, his first game as interim coach definitely earned him a call-back.
Behind a dominating rushing performance led by Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, LSU controlled the pace of the game and punished Missouri at the point of attack, leading to a 42-7 wire-to-wire win. Guice scored three touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 163 yards, while Williams joined him above the century mark, notching 121 yards and two touchdowns.
Not to be outdone by their offensive compadres, the LSU defense stifled Missouri’s potent offensive attack, limiting Missouri quarterback Drew Lock to a season-low in passing yards (167) and holding him without a touchdown pass for the first time all season.
With the win, Orgeron improves his record as an interim head coach to 7-2 and the team gains a huge confidence boost leading into next week’s rivalry game in the Swamp against Florida. Here are a few stock updates from the game:
Steve Ensminger’s play-calling: Efficiency is the new aggression. Who needs to air it out when you can dominate in every phase of an offensive game plan? That was pretty much Ensminger’s strategy all Saturday. The Tigers didn’t necessarily open up the offense as Orgeron had been promising all week, preferring to pound the ball in the run game about 60 percent of the time, but LSU rotated wide receivers at an impressive clip and featured more three- and four-wide receiver sets than in previous games. No matter how you do it, though, games with more than 500 yards of total offense are generally good.
The second team offense: Long live the scout team! It’s not just quarterback Danny Etling anymore, as usual backups Guice and Williams paced the LSU offense and a whole host of backup offensive linemen helped LSU drive the ball when guards Josh Boutte and Will Clapp joined tackle Toby Weathersby on the trainer’s table. On top of that, sophomore wide receiver Jazz Ferguson caught the first passes of his career and junior Russell Gage received the most significant snaps he had all year.
Leonard Fournette: Look, I know Leonard Fournette is the best player on the field almost any time he laces up his cleats. But LSU’s offense looked better without him Saturday than they had all season with him. There’s no argument to be made that Guice or Williams or anyone else on this team is better at running the ball than Fournette, but Saturday proved that maybe the Tigers don’t necessarily need him to be successful.
Bradley Dale Peveto: Full-time special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto didn’t have the best first-day-on-the-job of all-time. LSU’s special teams underwhelmed all night, from an opening kickoff that went out of bounds to a block-in-the-back on the first punt return of the day to a missed field goal from Colby Delahoussaye to Josh Growden’s less-than-stellar 47.7 yards per punt average. It’s definitely a good thing that the game was a blowout, because a special teams performance like that one normally comes back to haunt a team.
The secondary: No team produces more secondary talent than LSU on a season-by-season basis, and Saturday proved that this year is no different. Tre’Davious White came down with the team’s only interception of the game, but in all the team recorded seven pass breakups, including two apiece from White and senior Jamal Adams. The secondary held Lock, who came into the day having thrown for 280 or more yards in every game this year, to less than 200 on the day.
The quarterbacks: Danny Etling didn’t show much Saturday that we didn’t already know about him. He overthrew some passes, he underthrew some passes, but he ultimately played well, not turning the ball over and completing about two-thirds of his passes. The Purdue transfer accounted for 216 yards passing and 18 yards rushing. If anything, this could actually be a stock down for Brandon Harris who, despite the team leading big for the entire second half, didn’t see any action until there were about two minutes remaining.