By Andrew Alexander, DIG Sports Editor
Mother Nature 1, LSU & McNeese State 0
LSU’s 2015 season opener against McNeese State was canceled Saturday night after a wild four-hour weather delay in Baton Rouge, a fitting end to one of the most peculiar weeks in recent LSU football memory.
Friday, August 28, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron announced he had been successfully been treated for prostate cancer. Three days later LSU head coach Les Miles postponed his weekly “Lunch with Les” press conference until the evening because of a coffee-induced malady.
Then Mother Nature interfered and completed the unusual trifecta of events.
Saturday’s lightning plagued contest is believed to be LSU’s first canceled game since World War I eliminated the 1918 season, a remarkable feat considering this region has faced devastating hurricanes this century.
“It boiled down to player safety,” Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director Joe Alleva said following the cancellation announcement Saturday night. “We just felt like it was not in the best interest of our players to play this game.”
Saturday’s game was ruled a “no-contest,” meaning none of the stats accumulated in the 4:52 of game play with count towards either team’s season totals.
Of the ten total plays from Saturday’s game, the Tigers unofficially gained 11 yards of offense on five plays. LSU sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris completed one of two passes for negative four yards, while sophomore running back Leonard Fournette gained 11 yards on two carries.
“We would have liked to prepare best for Mississippi State having had a first game under our belt before we played them,” Miles said. “The idea that we would wait until just before midnight to see if we could possibly get on the field and to play until 3 a.m. was not in the best interest of our players.”
The Tigers now turn their attention to their true season opener, a road game against conference foe Mississippi State in Starkville, MS at 8:15 pm on ESPN.
Mississippi State topped Southern Mississippi 34-16 in Hattiesburg Saturday night. The 14-10 State advantage at halftime was much closer than many in the college football world expected. Led by senior quarterback Dak Prescott’s 309 total yards of offense and three touchdowns, the Bulldogs took control in the second half and managed a comfortable victory.
Without the much-needed reps of the McNeese State season opener, many questions still remain on both sides of the ball for LSU heading into SEC play.
How will first year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele coach a live-game situation and utilize his talented, yet unproven front seven? How much has LSU sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris improved in the off-season?
Harris’ second true start will come on the road this weekend in the hostile, cowbell-filled environment of Davis Wade Stadium. The last time Harris started a conference game on the road at Auburn last October (also his first LSU career start), the then-freshman finished 3-of-14 for a meager 58 yards and rushed for 38 yards.
Undoubtedly, Harris has matured and improved since his true freshman nightmare in Jordan-Hare Stadium, but the sophomore signal caller must still prove it on the field.
He’ll get his chance Saturday night.