Last Modified: Sunday, September 08, 2013 12:16 AM
BATON ROUGE — Long after the season home opener was over, LSU all-purpose man Odell Beckham was probably still scoring touchdowns somewhere, perhaps a place near you, most likely in spectacular fashion and finally in ways you may have never even seen before.
And most assuredly in UAB’s nightmares.
The ninth-ranked Tigers continued to impress while rolling out new coordinator Cam Cameron’s multifaceted offense and rolled to a 56-17 victory Saturday over the outmanned Blazers.
“They can completely expose you,” UAB coach Garrick McGee said of the Tigers, who avoided the temptation of a letdown against a lesser opponent.
But on a night when LSU had plenty of stars who didn’t do much wrong — including a record-setting performance from quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the return of Jeremy Hill — Beckham overshadowed them all.
If nothing else, for creativity alone.
Beckham caught three scoring passes and set up another with a 60-yard punt return, but he saved the best and strangest and nuttiest for his final touchdown and the last of his 331 all-purpose yards.
UAB will surely think twice before it attempts a meaningless 59-yard field goal into the wind again.
LSU already led 49-17 late in the third quarter when Beckham, stationed deep for the ill-fated field goal, settled under the short attempt 9 yards deep in the end zone and took off at full sprint.
As most of what was left of the crowd wondered “Can you do that?” he seemed to catch UAB off guard and sprinted down the sidelines for what was officially a 100-yard touchdown return of a missed field goal.
“That’s got to be a LSU record,” LSU head coach Les Miles said.
Maybe even a first, for what may be the rarest of all the ways to score a touchdown. LSU is checking its dusty files.
“I probably shouldn’t have kicked that kick,” McGee said. “You get eight offensive linemen on the field (for the field goal) and the ball ends up in that guy’s hands ....”
It looked a bit like a walrus trying to chase a mouse as Beckham put on the finishing touches, cutting back and weaving through clunky traffic for the final 30 or so yards.
“I went right and I saw the whole (UAB) team go right, so I made a cut back left and there was just a huge row of everybody blocking. They led the way.”
Surely UAB should have known better.
Before the show-stopper, Beckham had already caught touchdown passes of 29, 22 and 27 yards and his 60-yard punt return set up another. He actually got his hands on the ball only 11 times — a whopping 31-yard average for every touch.
“I don’t know what to say,” Beckham said. “I guess it was in God’s plans for me tonight.”
Mettenberger followed up his impressive season-opening performance with an LSU-record five touchdown passes, leaving a dozen past Tiger quarterbacks to share second place with four.
“All in all, we did a very good job tonight,” Mettenberger said. “It’s all about executing. Around this time last year, we weren’t executing too well. There were some mistakes, but all in all we did a great job and we can only get better from here.”
Mettenberger also connected with Jarvis Landry for scores of 24 and 14 yards while completing 16 of 19 passes for 282 yards.
“He’s throwing with so much confidence,” Miles said. “Maybe two throws he’d like to have back. Other than that he threw the ball where it was intended to go and threw it pretty darn well.
“If you look at how Beckham and Landry are jelling with the quarterback and expecting where the ball is going to be, that’s Cam (Cameron),” Miles said. “Cam’s doing a great job of teaching. He (Mettenberger) knew where the ball was supposed to go.”
Mettenberger threw to nine receivers and, by the time the night was over, nine different Tigers ran the ball, including Hill in his first action of the year. He gained 50 yards on six carries, scoring on a 3-yard run with his first carry of the season.
“When you have players like Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham out wide it really makes your job easy as a quarterback,” Mettenberger said. “It is fun for us. It sure beats doing a lot of other things.”
Miles, though, seemed most pleased that Beckham’s odd touchdown was just icing on the cake — the Tigers had already decided the game.
“We’ve had a lot of games against a lot of teams that frankly came down to the wire,” Miles admitted of some past apparent on-paper mismatches. “It’s nice to have a game where you really distance yourself from your opponent and play quality football, for the most part, for four quarters, get to play a lot of young players.”
LSU’s only near-hiccup came after taking a 35-7 lead midway through the second quarter, only to have some defensive sloppiness and their only turnover lead to 10 unanswered points before halftime and a 35-17 lead.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and they didn’t score in the second half,” Miles said. “To me, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
MOST BIZARRE TOUCHDOWN: Chances are you’ve never seen this one. Late in the third quarter, with LSU already leading 49-17, UAB lined up for a 59-yard FG. LSU stationed Odell Beckham in the end zone for the prayer of a kick. It was well short and Beckham hauled it in about 9 yards deep in the end zone and seemed to catch UAB off guard when he came speeding out of the end zone. He had no pursuers until almost midfield and weaved the final 40 or so yards through traffic down the sideline. If LSU has ever pulled that off before, no one could remember it.
WORST COMPUTER MELTDOWN: How rare is the play? It goes down as return yardage and was the last of Beckham’s 331 all-purpose yards on the night. But LSU’s computer-driven statistics program wouldn’t recognize the yards in any category. “We’re working on it,” they announced in the press box.
BEST QUARTER: In the first quarter alone, Beckham scored two TDs on receptions of 29 and 22 yards from Zach Mettenberger and set up another with a 60-yard punt return down to the UAB 9-yard line. He also picked up 15 yards on an end-around. He added his third TD reception in the third quarter before the final capper on the missed field goal return.
TOUGHEST HALF: LSU CB Jalen Mills was beaten badly — and out in the open —on both of UAB’s first-half TDs. He had zeroed in on UAB RB Darrin Reaves behind the line before biting a hip fake that sprung Reaves outside for a 11-yard scoring run. He also got beat deep for 41-yard TD pass to Jamarcus Nelson.
WORST DELAY: The kickoff was delayed 40 minutes until 6:42 p.m. when lightning spotted in the area kept the teams from warming up at their allotted time. No lightning was visible in the immediate area and it never really rained. But it did change the warmup routine. While normally the kickers and a few specialists come out way early, following late by skill position players and, even later, the whole team, this time the entire team took the field together about 6:10 p.m. That was about 10 minutes after the scheduled kickoff.
BEST CATCH THAT DIDN’T COUNT: UAB’s opening kickoff was a long line drive to the back up the end zone. Beckham went back and calmly reached up and made a nonchalant one-handed snag of it, although he didn’t run it out.
WORST COVERAGE: LSU QB Zach Mettenberger was 16 of 19 passing and freshman backup Anthony Jennings completed the first and only pass of his college career . Dating back to last week’s game against Troy, it meant the UAB defense had allowed two teams’ QBs to combine to complete 47 of 53 passes.
BEST STAND: LSU was playing backups late in the game when UAB mounted a drive, aiding by a roughing the passer penalty on Deion Jones. But the backups rose up and stopped UAB short on fourth-and-1 from the 7-yard line to turn away the threat.
BEST DAILY DOUBLE: Beckham already had 109 yards in receptions at the half. It was the first time a Tiger had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Dwayne Bowe did it 2006.
BEST THREE-FOR: Mettenberger had three TD passes in the first half. He was first LSU QB to get three before halftime since JaMarcus Russell did against Mississippi State in 2006.
BEST USE OF TIME: There were scoring plays at the end of both the first and second quarters. LSU’s Kenny Hilliard scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the first quarter and UAB’s Ty Long kicked a 26-yard FG on the final play of the first half.
WORST USE OF AN EXTRA MAN: UAB had 12 men on its defense on Mettenberger’s 27-yard TD pass to Beckam early in the third quarter. LSU politely declined the penalty.
WORST FIREWORKS: With the heavy humidity hanging low, the smoke from the brief fireworks for LSU’s entrance to the field lingered over the stadium well into the first quarter.
BEST MISTAKEN IDENTITY: When LSU WR Jarvis Landry hauled in a TD pass in the third quarter, P.A. announcer Dan Borne bellowed “Touchdown, LaRon Landry.”
WORST TRAVELERS: Decked out in green, the UAB fans were easy to spot holed up in one section in the corner. Actually about a half a section — there might have been 50 of them.
LSU: Odell Beckham 29 pass from Zach Mettenberger (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 6:13. Scoring Drive: 89 yards, 5 plays, 2:21. Drive Started: LSU 11 (Beckham minus-1 punt return). Drive Notes: Just before the TD, Beckham out-wrestled a UAB defender for a 49-yard bomb from Mettenberger.
LSU: Beckham 22 pass from Mettenberger (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 2:29. Scoring Drive: 50 yards, 5 plays, 1:56. Drive Started: 50 (punt fair caught). Drive Notes: Beckham also gained 15 yards on an end-around and Jeryl Brazil had a 9-yard run on his first career play.
LSU: Kenny Hilliard 1 run (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 0:00. Scoring Drive: 9 yards, 2 plays, 42 seconds. Drive Started: UAB 9 (60-yard PR by Beckham). Drive Notes: Beckham ran through a lot of traffic to set up the TD.
LSU: Jeremy Hill 3 run (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 14:20. Scoring Drive: 19 yards, 3 plays, 35 seconds. Drive Started: UAB 19 (DT Quintin Thomas’ recovery of fumble by QB Jonathan Perry). Drive Notes: Mettenberger hit burly FB Connor Neighbors with a shot flat pass and he rumbled to the 3.
UAB: Darrin Reaves 11 run (Ty Long kick). Time: 11:11. Scoring Drive: 75 yards, 9 plays, 3:09. Drive Started: UAB 25 (kickoff touchback). Drive Notes: Completed a 33-yard pass to Jamari Staples on the first play.
LSU: Jarvis Landry 24 pass from Mettenberger (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 8:01. Scoring Drive: 75 yards, 7 plays, 3:10. Drive Started: LSU 25 (KO touchback). Drive Notes: Landry also caught a 17-yard pass, while TE DeSean Smith had a 14 yard catch and FB A.J. Copeland a 12-yarder.
UAB: Jamarcus Nelson 41 pass from Austin Brown (Long kick). Time: 5:19. Scoring Drive: 39 yards, 2 plays, 48 seconds. Drive Started: LSU 38 (Landry’s fumble recovered by Greg Maclin. Drive Notes: Nelson got behind LSU CB Jalen Mills.
UAB: FG Long 24. Time: 0:00. Scoring Drive: 65 yards, 10 plays, 2:42. Drive Started: UAB 29 (punt fair caught). Drive Notes: Reaves had a 24-yard run on a draw and caught a 14-yard pass.
LSU: Beckham 27 pass from Mettenberger (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 12:02. Scoring Drive: 55 yards, 5 plays, 1:59. Drive Started: LSU 45 (punt out of bounds). Drive Notes: Hill had a 14-run and Mettenberger scrambled for a 12-yard gain.
LSU: Landry 14 pass from Mettenberger (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 6:16. Scoring Drive: 58 yards, 3 plays, 54 seconds. Drive Started: LSU 42 (punt fair caught). Drive Notes: Hill had runs of 14 and 15 yards, the latter with a 15-yard face mask penalty tacked on.
LSU: Beckham 100 return on missed FG. (Delahoussaye kick). Time: 2:11. Scoring Notes: Beckham field the missed 59-yard attempt about 9 yards deep in the end zone and seemed to catch UAB off guard when he brought it back, getting to midfield untouched before weaving his way in.