LSU christened a new structure on its 90-year-old stadium Saturday night. All the while, the Tigers did it with a little old and a little new.
The result: a 56-0 bashing of Sam Houston State.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings hooked up with receiver Travin Dural for three first-half touchdowns, and a host of highly touted stars in LSU’s star-studded 2014 signing class made their marks on a night when an expanded Tiger Stadium made its debut.
Jennings completed 7 of 13 passes for 188 yards, and big-play Dural amassed 140 yards on just three receptions, continuing the Tigers’ most threatening passing connection since November’s game-winning 49-yarder against Arkansas.
“It’s growing every day,” Dural said of the pair. “We work on it every day after practice. We throw, maybe, 20 to 30 minutes. It showed how hard we’ve been working.”
And the new? Four true freshmen scored touchdowns.
Quarterback Brandon Harris had a tackle-breaking 46-yard touchdown run and hit receiver Malachi Dupre for an 8-yard TD pass.
Leonard Fournette, the nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2014, had a 40-yard run to set up his own touchdown moments later — a 4-yard rumble that he followed by striking a Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone.
LSU coach Les Miles barked in Fournette’s ear afterward about the celebration — the only miscue, it seemed, on a perfect night for this group.
“I felt like we improved offensively, defensively and with special teams,” Miles said. “We are coming. We played a team that we really outmanned and extended the lead on but for the most part played pretty well.”
LSU’s defense pitched its first shutout since a 51-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 2010, forced three turnovers, had seven sacks and handed Sam Houston its first shutout since 2000.
The No. 12 Tigers (2-0) rolled up 584 yards of offense, continuing a recent hot streak for a unit that started the season so sluggishly.
LSU scored on its first five possessions and had, at one point, scored on nine of 11 possessions dating to its stunning comeback win over Wisconsin in the season opener last week in Houston.
It all took place in front of a record crowd in newly expanded Tigers Stadium. An announced 100,338 watched — about 7,900 from the new south end zone addition, a sparkling structure that includes two levels of suites, a level of club seating and general admission seats on top of it all. The attendance was about 2,000 less than the listed capacity but broke the previous record by nearly 7,000.
“It was always loud. Once you add (the new addition), it made it even louder,” cornerback Tre’Davious White said. “We were so excited to just run out in it.”
Fans got to see the hyped freshman class do big things as LSU scored more points than it has in the past eight games.
Fournette ran for 92 yards on 13 carries, Dupre had two catches for 23 yards and Harris showed his sharp arm and quick feet. Harris was 4-of-5 for 62 yards and ran for 55 yards — 46 of them on that scrambling score — but he had two fumbles late.
Freshman receiver Trey Quinn had two catches for 26 yards, and rookie running back Darrel Williams rumbled for 65 yards in his first action as a Tiger.
The old didn’t do bad either.
Jennings, a sophomore who qualifies as an old-guard member of the offense, showed poise and accuracy against Sam Houston (1-2), a squad from the Football Championship Subdivision. He relied heavily on the long ball, hitting Dural with three of his seven completions. The two hooked up on LSU’s first play from scrimmage, a screaming shot that resulted in a 94-yard touchdown pass — the longest in school history.
Jennings ran for 43 yards, too, possibly tightening his grip on the starting quarterback competition with Harris, the young gun from north Louisiana.
Jennings started the game and was on the field for eight of the first nine drives. Harris started five drives, all but one in the second half.
Miles suggested afterward that the quarterbacks might be used in future games like LSU played them Saturday.
“For us not to give (Harris) quality snaps would be a mistake,” he said. “Anthony has done a good job, and he’s done what he’s been asked to do.”
Harris entered on the fifth drive of the game with the Tigers already up 27-0. He had his 46-yard scoring scamper on that drive and didn’t take the field again until late in the third quarter.
Jennings started much better than he did last week, when the Tigers fell in a 24-7 hole against Wisconsin. He moved the offense well in the fist half, mostly via Dural. The receiver now has 13 career receptions. All of them have been for touchdowns or first downs.
“My speed has always been my thing,” Dural said. “I’m not the biggest guy. I’m not the strongest guy, but what I can do is run.”
The old and the new met in more than one way Saturday. The result was a smashing success — even if it came against a lower-level opponent.