No. 12 LSU Tigers dominate BYU Cougars

By Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 3, 2017 at 2:03 PM
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NEW ORLEANS -- For the last six weeks, LSU coach Ed Orgeron closed practice to the media to give new offensive coordinator Matt Canada a cloistered atmosphere to refine his exotic pre-snap motions, jet sweeps and misdirection.

But even though the retooled LSU offense looked explosive and deadly efficient in bruising BYU 27-0 on Saturday night in the relocated Texas Advocare Kickoff at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it was the No. 12 Tigers' suffocating defense that should be sounding alarm bells throughout the SEC.

Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's band of marauders -- with contributions from five freshmen -- did not allow BYU to cross midfield. The Cougars' deepest penetration was their own 47-yard line -- twice -- and each time LSU forced BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum into a harried, third-down incompletion.

It's tough to lose when your opponent doesn't cross the 50.

The scariest thing for LSU's future opponents? The Tigers' best defensive player -- defensive end Arden Key -- is almost ready to come back from shoulder surgery.

"The fundamentals, the technique are all there, and naturally those guys play hard," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake, whose Cougars were held to 97 total yards in 38 plays, an anemic 2.6-yard average. "That's one of the best defenses I've seen in college football."

The 27-0 final score did not truly reflect LSU's dominance. The Tigers outgained BYU 479-97, and held a 26-6 edge in first downs and 41:54-18:06 advantage in time of possession.

LSU held BYU to minus-5 yards rushing, the fewest allowed by a Tiger defense since a 1982 game against Ole Miss when the Rebels were limited to minus-50 yards rushing.

The score would have been more lopsided, but LSU kicker Jack Gonsoulin missed a 34-yard field goal, and the Tigers offense was held inside the BYU 10-yard line twice in the second half and had to settle for field goals. LSU also failed to ring up a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the BYU 1 in the fourth quarter when Darrel Williams was stuffed by penetrating defensive tackle Khyris Tonga.

LSU also hurt itself with 10 penalties for 86 yards, which will give Orgeron something to talk about on what he calls "Tell the Truth Mondays."

"It was just alignment penalties, stupid penalties," Orgeron said. "In the red zone, we've got to push those plays in. There's a lot of things to get better at."

LSU was plenty good enough in finally taking the wraps off Canada's shift-happy offensive scheme. Tailback Derrius Guice gained 120 yards on 27 carries and scored twice on short first-half runs -- 4 yards and 1 yard -- to give LSU a 14-0 halftime lead. Williams gave Guice a breather in the second half and finished with 92 yards on 15 carries.

"We just came out and did what we prepared to do all week and all spring," Guice said. "We did OK with the line being adjusted. There's a lot more to come. We're just scratching the surface right now."

Quarterback Danny Etling had an efficient game, completing 14 of 17 passes for 173 yards, which included a pair of nice completions on third-and-8 that kept the Tigers' first TD drive alive and a 52-yard perfectly placed bomb to D.J. Chark to the BYU 2 that set up Guice's second touchdown.

"It was just great game-planning (by Canada)," said Orgeron, adding that Canada used only "10 percent" of the playbook. "We had zero sacks and no turnovers. Matt told me before the game, 'We're not going to get sacked and we're not going to turn over the football.' "

Gonsoulin added field goals of 23 and 20 yards in the second half, and by that time, it was over, especially when BYU never sniffed the end zone.

"When you have (just) 38 plays the entire game, it's hard to generate anything," Sitake said.

NOTES: LSU opened without 15 players. Many of them, including starting CB Kevin Toliver and ILB Donnie Alexander, were serving one-game suspensions from coach Ed Orgeron. Those starters were replaced by true freshmen Andraez Williams, who had a key interception that led to LSU's second touchdown, and Tyler Taylor. ... The Advocare Texas Kickoff was moved from NRG Stadium in Houston to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome because of the unprecedented flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Organizers sold more than 53,826 tickets in four days, and net proceeds were earmarked for flood relief efforts in Texas. ... LSU's "Golden Band from Tigerland" played a rendition of "Texas, My Texas" before the kickoff. ... LSU is 55-1 against non-conference opponents in the last 14 seasons. ... This was only the third time since 1975 that BYU was shut out. ... The 97 yards in total offense were the fewest for BYU since being held to 92 by Iowa State.

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