LSU running back Jeremy Hill scores against Kent State Saturday night. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:01 AM
BATON ROUGE — LSU looks like a team ready to start Southeastern Conference play. If nothing else, the Tigers appear to desperately need some bigger challenges.
For the second straight week No. 8 LSU jumped on an overmatched opponent early, seemed to lose interest in the middle but still rolled to a walkover 45-13 victory over Kent State.
The Tigers (3-0) scored on their first five possessions, had their usual second-quarter defensive hiccup, and then toyed with the Golden Flashes (1-2) for the final 30 minutes while trying to get the second half over with in a half-empty stadium.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “There were some good things. Again, we have to eliminate some of the mistakes but, all in all, a good outing.”
Typical of the game, the Tigers rolled up 571 yards in their rejuvenated offense — even though their 11 penalties wiped out a lot of their best handiwork.
After naysayers questioned the LSU running game last week, the Tigers had two backs go over 100 yards and eventually rushed for 307 yards to balance out Zach Mettenberger’s 264 yards passing.
Jeremy Hill, getting his first start after a five-quarter suspension, had 119 yards on just 11 carries, including the night’s first touchdown on a 58-yard run and later got in from 12 yards out. Terrence Magee didn’t get a carry until late in the third quarter but finished with 108 yards and a score.
“Tonight was an example of what we’re supposed to look like,” Miles said of the balance under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
They were all but unstoppable minus the rash of penalty flags — and often overcoming them — only punting once the entire night while Mettenberger took target practice much of the game.
Not that any of it seemed to bother Mettenberger, who had his third straight sharp performance while completing 13 of 18 passes for 264 yards and three more scores while looking more confident every day.
“Nothing surprises me anymore about Zach because that is what we expect of him,” said Odell Beckham after another highlight-reel game.
The Tigers averaged 10.4 yards every time they snapped the ball, the second highest average for a game in school history, and faced only six third-downs all night, converting four of them.
It was the usual suspects.
Beckham had five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown and Jarvis Landry had four catches for 66 yards with a pair of well-executed scores from 21 and 31 yards out.
“We have a really good problem on offense and that is who are we going to get the ball to next,” Mettenberger said. “Jeremy and Terrence Magee out tonight and had big games this week too. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are of course continuing to play good football.”
Mostly, they had a blast under the Cam Attack.
“It is so much fun to be in this offense this year,” Landry said. “Last year at this time we were still struggling.
“Looking back at it, it kind of makes you laugh because if you look at the same guys now they are making plays. You see a quarterback that has grown leaps and bounds and emerging.
“You also see young offensive linemen coming along. I just can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store.”
“It’s a confidence thing,” Beckham said. “Offensively we are just distributing the ball to all of our playmakers. There is a lot of confidence ... and we are clicking on all cylinders.
“It is a lot more fun to be out on the field when you know everyone is going to get the chance to go out there and make plays to help us win. It is an exciting feeling.”
It did seem at times that LSU was the only team capable of stopping the Tigers, mostly with the rash of penalties.
“We still have a lot of mental errors,” Mettenberger said. “Some sloppy play at times. For me personally a couple of missed throws and a couple of missed reads. Pre-snap penalties are really killing us right now.”
Kent State had negative yardage at the point LSU took a 21-0 lead, but with LSU playing more and youngsters, the Golden Flashes matched LSU 10-10 in the second quarter, including their only sustained touchdown drive.
Kent State finished with 248 yards.
“We played pretty well (defenisvely) at times,” Miles said. “The things that we have to correct certainly are the missed tackles.
“We are going to use a lot of of guys on defense. It is a very young group and a group that needs some reps. The good news is we are rotating some talented guys.”
It should get tougher next week when the Tigers welcome in Auburn, which also stayed unbeaten at 3-0 Saturday night with a last-second 24-20 victory over Mississippi State.
“I think we are in a good spot right now,” Mettenberger said. “ We have done so many good things and have still yet to play our best football. We are going to start on Sunday to prepare our best game against Auburn.”