Towson wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard catches a touchdown pass against LSU cornerback Jalen Mills during the second half Saturday night in Baton Rouge. Third-ranked LSU defeated Towson 38-22. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, September 30, 2012 8:03 PM
BATON ROUGE — Call them a very imperfect 5-0.
And pardon the non-celebration.
But LSU beat something called Towson Saturday night, mostly overcoming its own sloppiness to muddle through a 38-22 victory after dipping down into the Football Championship Subdivision ranks for its final nonconference game of the season.
With a road game looming next week at Florida, the least of the postgame question marks seemed to be how many more spots the third-ranked Tigers will drop in the polls after staying unbeaten with another uneven performance.
“I can tell you that it was a somber locker room,” said head coach Les Miles said, who seemed to be as irritated with this “victory” as he’s been with any of the few losses he’s had since coming to LSU.
“Am I alarmed? Absolutely. There are some things that we are going to do differently. I think it is time we recognize that we can not go on the path that we are on.
“To say that we made improvement, I can’t say that. It was the same style of football.”
LSU lost three of its five fumbles — always a Miles pet peeve — racked up another 10 mostly inopportune penalties and got quarterback Zach Mettenberger sacked four more times while also having him forced into an intentional grounding penalty.
“I can’t tell you the last time we put the ball on the ground five times in one game,” Miles said.
It was supposed to be a final tune-up for the upgraded passing game LSU is trying to add to its arsenal this season.
Mettenberger threw touchdown passes of 27 and 52 yards to Odell Beckham, but the Tigers’ work-in-progress aerial game was still as hit-and-miss as it’s been in previous games.
Mettenberger missed several open receivers, had drops on some others, and the offensive line struggled to protect him.
Bottom line: Mettenberger completed 15 of 26 for a career-high 238 yards even though the Tigers’ offense squandered several scoring opportunities and never seemed to get into much of a rhythm.
“I’m disappointed in my performance tonight,” Mettenberger said. “We know we have to step it up from here.”
Even LSU’s normally reliable running game wasn’t really there against what should have been an outmanned opponent. The Tigers finished with 158 yards on the ground, but 78 of them came on one play when Russell Shepard dashed in for LSU’s first touchdown.
That didn’t seem to spark the Tigers.
Nothing did as they rushed for 80 yards beyond that one play.
Miles thought his team played hard, but with a disclaimer.
“It seemed like it was a pain in the tail (for them) that they had to (play hard),” he said. “I thought we played down to our opponent.”
“You could just see it on the sidelines,” Beckham said. “Everybody was really just not in the game.”
That was one view.
“I hate losing,” Towson head coach Rob Ambrose said. “With that being said, I don’t know if it’s humanly possible for me to be more proud of these players.”
“We should have beat them,” Towson defensive end Frank Beltre said. “We knew their weakness was they couldn’t pass. So that’s what we attacked. We stopped their run game and they couldn’t pass and it showed.”
“Frankly,” Miles said. “They did what they should have done defensively.”
Towson (2-2) had a brief 9-7 lead after some LSU hijinks midway through the second quarter.
“It’s not a good feeling when we know we have the talent to beat teams out of the water,” Mettenberger said of falling behind.
Otherwise, Towson never seemed to really threaten the upset of the century, but did end up with more first downs (19-18) and Towson’s 291 total yards were far more than any of LSU’s previous four opponents.
“We’re going to tackle again,” Miles vowed after bemoaning as many missed tackled as the Tigers’ had in their four previous games.
It worked out for LSU.
Beckham’s 27-yard scoring reception put LSU up for good and Drew Alleman added a field goal after another drive stalled just before the half for a 17-9 lead.
Posted By: Shonell Bacon On: 10/2/2012
Title: "something called Towson"? Insulted
As a 12-year resident of Lake Charles, a Baltimorean (born and raised), and a graduate of Towson U, I take offense to my alma mater being labeled "something." No need to make a put down on the school because LSU's win was a little too close for comfort.