It wasn’t pretty.
OK, OK, it was downright ugly at times.
But LSU got the win. And that’s good enough for coach Ed Orgeron – at least for one more week.
The Tigers beat Syracuse 35-26 in front of a Tiger Stadium crowd which was mostly full at the opening kickoff, but was mostly empty throughout most of the second half.
LSU led 28-10 midway through the third quarter, but the Orange didn’t go quietly into the night, netting a safety and two touchdowns to make the score 28-26 deep into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers iced the game on a late-game touchdown run from D.J. Chark, which sealed the win and improved LSU to 3-1 on the season.
“I thought we battled tonight,” Orgeron said. “It was a good win for our football team. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t exciting, but I’m glad that we won and we’re going to celebrate this win.”
There may be a quarterback controversy brewing in Baton Rouge – that was the big story which came out of Saturday’s win.
LSU’s offense struggled for a lot of the first half under senior Danny Etling. The Tigers scored a minute into the game after Greedy Williams intercepted a pass on the first play of the game and retuned the ball to the 1-yard-line, which set up a short run from Derrius Guice to put LSU ahead 7-0.
But after that, the Tigers’ offense went into a lull until the end of the half when Etling led a 2-minute drive capped with a touchdown pass to make the score 14-3 at halftime.
Out of the halftime break, Etling connected again on an 87-yard bomb to Drake Davis, which made the score 21-3 in favor of the Tigers.
But then Brennan got his shot.
After a Syracuse touchdown made the score 21-10, Orgeron inserted the true freshman and he did have some success, leading a six-play, 91-yard touchdown drive, which made the score 28-10 in favor of the Tigers.
But Brennan’s other drives didn’t have as much luck – one ending in a safety and another ending in an interception, which allowed Syracuse to slowly cut the lead to 28-26 with 5:40 to play.
With the margin suddenly razor thin, Orgeron re-inserted Etling to finish the game and he led the Tigers down the field on the game-winning touchdown drive.
Etling finished the game 10-of-17 with 188 yards and two touchdowns. Etling was 4-of-6 passing with 75 yards and the interception, which Orgeron said he believed was because the wide receiver ran the wrong route.
After the game, Orgeron deflected talks of a quarterback controversy, adding that the move to put Brennan into the game was simply to give the freshman work in a “real game situation.”
Prior to Saturday, all of Brennan’s snaps had come with the scoreboard well in LSU’s favor.
“Danny is our starting quarterback,” Orgeron said. “We just wanted to get Myles some reps. I thought Myles came in and did an excellent job. … I thought Danny made some good throws, too – he hit some big deep passes.”
The second big storyline involving Saturday’s game is the continued struggles of the LSU defense.
The Tigers allowed 384 yards on Saturday, which isn’t a huge surprise given that the Orange operate out of a no-huddle spread look.
The backbreaker on Saturday was third and fourth down defense, which prolonged drives and allowed Syracuse to stay on the field.
The Orange converted eight third downs and two fourth downs in the loss, which allowed the team to run more than 80 plays.
With a thin defensive line, playing that many plays isn’t sustainable, according to Orgeron, who said the Tigers need to get better in the coming weeks.
“We’re thin,” he said. “That’s going to be an issue all season.”
LSU fans looking for a bit of good news from Saturday’s win can point to penalties.
After three-straight games with a litany of violations, LSU was penalized just three times on Saturday for 25 yards.
One of the flags, however, was a roughing the passer penalty, which extended a key drive and allowed Syracuse to keep the game close.
Orgeron said he was proud to see that the team mostly cleaned up its penalty problem – especially after a practice week in which violators had to run sprints for every infraction.
“I’m proud of that,” Orgeron said. “But we’re inconsistent right now. We need to get it going before the meat of our schedule.”