LSU opened up a can of whoop ass in the second half, which obscured just how dicey things were in the first half. So let’s see what story the box score tells us, to see if there is any residue of that dismal first half.
15-75. Southern Miss’ opening drive was a thing of beauty. The Eagles took the ball first and proceeded to methodically chew up yards and time. They used up over half of the first quarter in order to drive the length of the field on a fairly pedestrian 5 yards/play. USM would convert two 3rd downs and a 4th down en route to the touchdown. Afterwards? LSU shut it down. USM would have another 11-play, 62-yard scoring drive, resulting in a field goal, but largely, that opening statement was followed by nothing else. USM would gain 242 yards on the game, and only 167 of them came after the opening drive on 58 plays.
6. The number of combined 50+ yard punts. Each team had three of them, and both punters averaged over 50 yards per punt, with LSU averaging 58.0. The punters did their job last night, and kept flipping the field to a massive degree.
3-1. Southern Miss fumbled the ball three times in the game, but only lost it once. Furthermore, USM didn’t throw a single pick all game, while Etling threw a late, fairly meaningless pick. This means the turnover game was an even zero, with each team losing the ball once. However, USM’s turnover was far more killer, as it led straight to the touchdown which blew the game open. Even with that big turnover, Southern Miss enjoyed some terrific fumble luck to stay in the game, while LSU never even put the ball on the ground once.
100. Malachi Dupre had 100 receiving yards on three catches, the first time all season he has cracked the century mark in a game. Even more discouraging, it is the first time any LSU receiver had 100 yards receiving this season. It was nice to see the passing game open up a little bit more, but there is still work to be done. 100 yards shouldn’t be a hard cap.
3. The most number of plays LSU required on any of its touchdown drives until the fourth quarter. LSU has two drives of three plays, one of two plays, and two drives which took all of one play. That is a fast strike offense. LSU’s longest drive of the game by number of plays was actually a dud: 12 plays for just 28 yards and a punt.
15. Kendall Beckwith is a monster. 15 tackles and 2 TFL’s on the game. He was racking up big numbers in the first half while the rest of the team was lollygagging. Key may get the hype because of the sacks (though he had 0 on the game), but Beckwith is the guy who makes the defense go.