Got it covered
LSU gets job done vs Lions
BATON ROUGE — It’s doubtful that LSU did much that would worry Auburn Saturday night, let alone scare it.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Auburn is next week and they were playing the Football Championship Subdivision Southeastern Louisiana Lions. So the result only chagrined them without leaving a real bruise.
LSU, of course, was never in any serious danger but muddled through all four quarters in a sloppy 31-0 disposal of what should have been an outmanned team.
“We might have been a little flat with the short week,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron admitted. “I felt it going in. I didn’t expect it but we were.”
Two crazy big plays at the end of each half tidied up the scoreboard a tad before the Tigers could turn their attention to next week’s road showdown.
Their minds seemed to already be in Auburn, where the No. 7 team in awaits.
“Obviously, we struggled on offense,” Orgeron said after his defense pitched the first LSU shutout at home since 2014 against Louisiana-Monroe, with an identical 31-0 score.
That’s the same school, if not the same team, that lit up SLU for 554 yards last week.
No. 11 LSU (2-0) managed 335 total yards while struggling to block the Lions (0-2) most of the night.
“I thought we’d play a lot better offensively,” Orgeron said “I thought the game would be a lot cleaner. Obviously it wasn’t.
“We didn’t get a spark on offense to really get the crowd into it.”
The season’s first home crowd was pretty excited when quarterback Joe Burrow ended the first half with a 40-yard Hail Mary pass to 6-foot-7 Stephen Sullivan for a 24-0 halftime lead.
“We throw a Hail Mary, something we practice every Monday and Thursday,” Orgeron said. “It worked.”
It didn’t take, though. It was hardly a spark.
The Tigers did next to nothing in the second half — they had two first downs until late in the fourth quarter before safety JaCoby Stevens set up the final touchdown when he snagged a bad snap on the first hop and returned the fumble 64 yards down to the Lions’ 25-yard line.
At the time the Tigers had 38 yards in the second half.
Otherwise LSU was fortunate its defense didn’t need a wake-up call while getting five sacks and five other tackles for losses.
“We just wanted to keep getting stops,” said linebacker Devin White, who had his usual 11-tackle game. “Every time I got in the huddle or was on the sidelines I was preaching turnovers and stops. Turnovers and stops. Get off the field and give (the offense) more opportunities.”
Southeastern’s best two scoring opportunities, both in the fourth quarter, ended in turnovers — Greedy Williams had an interception at the LSU 6-yard line and Stevens’ fumble recovery on a play that began with the Lions facing second-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
The LSU offense did take advantage of that opportunity on Clyde Edwards-Hellaire’s 7-yard scoring run.
Nick Brossette had has second consecutive impressive game with 137 yards on 19 carries.
But the offensive highlights few and far between.
The offensive line was playing without both starting tackles, including Saahdiq Charles, who’ll be back next week after sitting out a one-game suspension.
Maybe that will help an offensive line that never got a handle on the Lions.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Orgeron said. “Southeastern had a lot of (defensive) plays in the backfield.”
Burrow was sacked twice, hit often, including three times that knocked passes out of his hands, and harassed from start finish.
“Their defensive line gave us fits sometimes,” Orgeron said.
The offensive line was also guilty of two holding calls and a 15-yard chop block, all three of which negated big gains and stalled drives.
“They threw some blitzes at us that we never saw on film,” said Burrow, who completed 10 of 20 passes under duress for 151 yards. “You have to credit them. They played hard and tough. They hit us pretty hard in the mouth.
“We responded well in the first half. In the second half, we didn’t respond great and we are going to have to get that fixed.”
Burrow, a graduate transfer who was playing in the first game he’d ever seen in Tiger Stadium, also threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase, ran for another from 1-yard out while Cole Tracy hit a 50-yard field early in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.
“I thought in the first quarter we played really well,” Burrow said. “We came out attacking and had the right mind-set. I thought after that our mindset kind of let off the gas a little bit. We can’t do that in big games. We know that. We are going to have to get a lot of things addressed this week in practice. I’m excited for this coming Saturday.”