As successful as LSU was on offense early in the game, they negated several of their own big plays with penalties in the 21-19 win at Mississippi State.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris found junior receiver Travin Dural wide open for a 37-yard touchdown pass on LSU’s second drive, but a holding call on right guard Josh Boutte brought the play back.
In the second quarter, Harris evaded pressure and scrambled for a 16-yard gain to the Bulldogs’ 30-yard line. Left guard Will Clapp, however, committed an illegal block below the waist, and the Tigers eventually had to punt.
Later in the quarter, a holding call on John Diarse negated a 79-yard, jet-sweep touchdown run by Dural.
Same strategy, different team. Before LSU’s no-contest against McNeese State the previous Saturday, LSU coach Les Miles said he planned to use a three-man rotation at defensive end that consisted of juniors Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower and freshman Arden Key.
He put that same plan into action against Mississippi State. Neal and Bower started at left and right end, respectively, before Key came on to replace Bower on the second series.
Bower took Neal’s place at left end while Key remained on the right side on the ensuing drive. The strategy quickly paid off when Key sacked MSU senior quarterback Dak Prescott on the first play of the Bulldogs’ third drive.
Bower and Neal returned to their starting positions on the fourth MSU possession, completing the cycle. As the game wore on, substitutions appeared to be made on a situational basis.
The Tigers also rotated three players at both offensive guard positions, something else Miles foresaw heading into the season. Clapp started at left guard while Boutte played on the right side. When true freshman Maea Teuhema entered the game at left guard, Clapp moved over to Boutte’s spot. Teuhema pulled and was the lead blocker on several of sophomore running back Leonard Fournette’s big runs.
Tight ends involved
During preseason camp, junior DeSean Smith guaranteed the tight ends would play a bigger role in the Tigers’ offense. He didn’t have to wait long to make good on his promise.
Facing a 3rd-and-11 on LSU’s second drive of the game, Smith came down with a critical 23-yard reception to put the team in the red zone. Three plays later, Fournette leaped over the goal line to put the Tigers ahead 7-0.
Sione Teuhema, Deondre Clark active
Sophomore defensive ends Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark must have done something right during practice this week. After being inactive against McNeese, the pair dressed out Saturday.
Miles said earlier this week that Teuhema and Clarke were out last week for “performance-based” reasons, and he later said they had to “earn” their way onto the travel team. Teuhema subbed in on only one drive in the first half without recording a tackle. Clark did not play a snap.
The Advocate reported Friday night that the two made the trip to Starkville.
Freshman defensive end Isaiah Washington did not travel to Starkville, Mississippi, with the team. Washington broke his hand during practice in August, a source said. He was dressed out for warmups prior to LSU’s washed out game against the Cowboys. His injury comes as a blow to a defense line that features only 11 scholarship players.
Washington, along with Key, drew rave reviews during preseason practice and figured to play significant snaps early in the season.
Junior Trent Domingue seems to have won the preseason-long battle to be LSU’s starting placekicker. Domingue kicked the extra point following all of the Tigers’ touchdowns. He and junior Colby Delahoussaye were in a tight battle for the position after splitting reps late last season.
It’s game time — finally
Because of last week’s cancelation against McNeese, Saturday night’s game was the latest opener for LSU since 1998. That year, LSU defeated Arkansas State in a game that was also played on Sept. 12.
LSU went into Saturday night’s game with an 88-28-5 all-time record in season openers. … LSU traveled five quarterbacks: sophomore Brandon Harris, junior Anthony Jennings, freshman Justin McMillan, sophomore Jake Clise and senior Brad Kragthorpe. … Scouts from seven NFL teams and one CFL team were present at the game. … LSU’s captains were kicker Trent Domingue, punter Jamie Keehn, left tackle Jerald Hawkins, right tackle Vadal Alexander, tight end Dillon Gordon and linebackers Kendell Beckwith, Duke Riley and Deion Jones. … A crowd of 62,531, which ranks as the second-largest in MSU history, was on hand.
Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.