The talk around Baton Rouge over the offseason was focused quite a bit on what kind of boost new offensive coordinator Matt Canada would provide LSU’s offense. It turns out the coordinator on the other side of the ball had a statement of his own to make in the team’s opener too.
The Tigers reloaded defense under Dave Aranda looked just as fierce and talented as previous editions on the Bayou — and maybe even better — as Ed Orgeron’s full-time season debut as head coach resulted in LSU clamping down on BYU in dominating fashion for a 27-0 win. To call the game one-sided would almost be an understatement, and that’s not even getting to the home field advantage aspect of the ‘Texas Kickoff’ being moved from Houston to New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
The Cougars failed to make it past midfield on the night, ran only 38 total plays and converted just two 3rd downs. The Tigers, meanwhile, managed to rush for 294 yards and controlled the ball for over 41 minutes. BYU may have be independent but somehow managed to look like an early season FCS squad the way they were stymied on just about every offensive series.
Quarterback Tanner Mangum managed to throw for just 102 yards and was picked off once on an ill-advised pass. He was also sacked three times by that tough LSU front seven — and yet was about the only life the team had moving the ball as running lanes were non-existent (-5 yards on the ground).
As rough of a night as it was for the visitors, it was a nice debut of the budding Derrius Guice Heisman campaign. The star Tigers’ tailback hardly played down the stretch and had a big role in putting the game out of reach early, rushing for 120 yards and two scores before giving way to backup Darrel Williams.
The fact that those two ran well was probably not a surprise but the biggest development on the night might have been the quality play of signal-caller Danny Etling. The numbers weren’t eye-popping by any stretch (14/17, 173 yards) but he was efficient and didn’t turn the ball over. Even more encouraging were several throws that he made that didn’t come so easy a year ago.
In the end, a statement was made in one of the season’s most through dismantling of a major opponent. Perhaps the most surprising thing to fans of LSU came that one was made on each side of the ball.