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BYE, BYE, BYU

Tigers trounce BYU in easy win

Stop me if you’ve heard this football joke before. Two teams played in the Superdome for a high-stakes neutral site game. And one team didn’t muster enough offense to ever get across the 50-yard line.

That joke has haunted LSU fans for six years. But on Saturday night, the Tigers turned the tables and flipped the script, inflicting the same fate to BYU to kick off the 2017 season.

The Tigers crushed the Cougars 27-0 on Saturday—a dominant performance which kick-started the Ed Orgeron regime as the Tigers’ head coach. LSU outgained BYU 479-97 in the win, generating 26 first downs to the Cougars’ 6.

BYU also never got across the 50-yard-line offensively in the game, which Orgeron said was a huge credit to second-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and his group, which controlled the pace of play throughout the dominant win.

“A+,” Orgeron said when asked to grade the defense. “I think they had one yard rushing or something like that. It’s a great job by Dave Aranda and Pete Jenkins. We didn’t give up any deep balls—great job to Corey Raymond and Dennis Johnson – just a tremendous job. I think we played five freshmen—true freshmen on defense tonight and it’s just a tremendous job by our staff and our football players.”

LSU out-muscled BYU from the opening minutes of the game. The teams traded punts in the first quarter before LSU opened up the scoring in the second quarter, capping a 13-play, 66-yard drive with a short touchdown run from Derrius Guice, which made the score 7-0.

After a quick 3-and-out drive, LSU got the ball back and struck quick with another Guice touchdown run, which made the game 14-0 with 11:53 to go in the half—a score which stuck until halftime. Guice got a heavy workload in the win, rushing 27 times for 122 yards with the two scores.

In Matt Canada’s first game as LSU’s offensive coordinator, the Tigers were also efficient through the air. Quarterback Danny Etling completed 14-of-17 passes for 171 yards.

More importantly than that, LSU didn’t turnover the football in the game, while generating 479 yards and maintaining almost 42 minutes of possession.

“I thought he was excellent,” Orgeron said of Canada. “I thought it was excellent the whole night. Obviously, we’re a little disappointed with the penalties at the beginning. But they settled down, he ran his offense and I thought they looked great.”

In the second half, the script never flipped for BYU. The Cougars got the football first out of halftime—an empty drive. From there, LSU marched 80 more yards on a lengthy drive capped with a short field goal. After another stop, the Tigers drove again for three more points, which made the score 20-0 going to the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter, LSU’s offense broke through and found the end zone again on a short touchdown run by Darrel Williams—a score setup by a muffed fake punt try by the Cougars. Williams had 92 yards on 15 carries in the game, which featured 57 runs and just 18 passes for LSU.

Orgeron conceded after the win that Canada’s offense was a bit bland, but quickly added that it won’t be if the Tigers need flavor. He said the coach shifted to a more conservative look when he saw how dominant LSU’s defense was throughout the game.

“He ran about 10 percent of the plays on his sheet,” Orgeron said.

With the win, LSU improves to 1-0, a solid first test for a team which opened the 2016 season with a loss at Wisconsin. Orgeron said the Tigers were far from perfect in the game, but were plenty good enough to find victory. Given the first-game jitters and the circumstances surrounding the game being moved from Houston to New Orleans, Orgeron said he’s happy with the performance.

“It’s great to see our guys come out with energy,” he said. “We had excellent execution. I thought it was a great job by the offensive and defensive staffs and our special teams stepped it up in the second half. I’m just proud of our whole football team and our whole coaching staff.”

LSU will return to play next Saturday in Tiger Stadium against Chattanooga—a team not expected to stiffly challenge the Tigers.

The Mocs played last weekend, losing to Jacksonville State on national TV.

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