The Ed Orgeron Era began in earnest tonight, the first regular season game without the interim label hanging over his head. And after one game, the Ed Orgeron Tigers look a whole hell of a lot like the Les Miles Tigers.
The offense was a heavy dose of the star running back wearing down the opposing defense, slowly and methodically breaking the other team’s will. Followed up by a few big plays by bombing deep over the safeties which had come in to stop the run.
Couple that power offense with a dominant defense, and what’s old is new again. OK, Canada has an addiction to the jet sweep, a new wrinkle to the offense, but that’s just more running of the ball. Heck, there was even a big punt return.
LSU dominated the stat sheet pretty much every possible way. LSU won the yardage war 479-97, an obviously massive gap. BYU had just 6 first downs to LSU’s 26. Time of possession was equally lopsided, 41:54 to 18:06. That doesn’t even seem possible.
BYU managed -5 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Yes, a negative number. That’s, um, not good. Remove the sacks from the equation, and BYU had 14 yards on 10 carries. FOURTEEN. LSU, by contrast, had nearly 300 yards rushing. Derrius Guice rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries, and he barely touched the ball in the second half, and not at all in the fourth.
It wasn’t just the running game, as Danny Etling quietly put on a show. He completed just 14 passes, but on only 17 attempts for 171 yards and an ATVSQBPI of 9.526. Efficiency, thy name is Etling. He wasn’t asked to do much, but when he was asked to do something, Etling came through with a near perfect pass. And when it wasn’t there, he threw the ball away. Finally, it seems, LSU has that mythical game manager at quarterback.
However, the offense belongs to the running game. Matt Canada, on the first touchdown drive, routinely only lined up one wide receiver regardless of the situation, and inside the red zone, he sent out a heavy package that had no receivers, and Darrel Williams and JD Moore on the ends. That’s beyond Milesian, that’s an offense that Cholly Mack would think could be opened up a bit.
It didn’t matter because BYU couldn’t stop it. Why do anything else if the defense can’t adjust to the fact you have more speed, size, and talent? Keep hammering away until they crumble. Which BYU did, fairly quickly.
Sure, Orgeron promised a 50-50 run/pass split, but why do that when LSU built a lead by hammering the run game, and spent the entire second half in a glorified victory formation? Yes, there may have been opportunity to more aggressively expand the lead, but LSU decided on playing the same old school pace to match the old school offense. In a sense, this allowed BYU to hang around on the scoreboard, but in reality, BYU never crossed midfield, so the 14-0 halftime lead felt damn near insurmountable.
If there was a negative, it was the red zone offense wasn’t terribly efficient. Jack Gonsoulin kicked two field goals of 20 and 23 yards. He missed from 34 as well. LSU further failed to punch in the ball on 4th and goal in the 4th quarter. So, four trips resulting in just 6 points is less than ideal, but it’s more important to note that LSU reached the red zone seven different times. That’s crazy domination.
This was an impressive win, even if we’ve seen wins like it before. The difference? LSU never let its foot up off the neck of BYU. Maybe they didn’t press down hard enough for the kill, but BYU never showed signs of getting up. They went down, and they stayed down.
This was everything we could have asked for in game one. Let’s do it eleven more times.