It would make sense that a former defensive line coach would put an emphasis on strong defensive play when he takes over head coaching duties.
But if there were any concerns what an LSU defense would look like after the Les Miles era, they were certainly quelled Saturday night.
The defense ushered in interim coach Ed Orgeron with one of its best performances of the year, allowing a season-low 265 total yards while holding an opponent to a single-digit score for the first time since last year’s regular-season finale against Texas A&M.
And just in case there were any doubts about Missouri’s offensive prowess, it should be noted that it entered Tiger Stadium with the nation’s fourth-most-productive passing offense, averaging 391.3 yards per game. It led the SEC in total yards, passing yards and passing touchdowns, and was second in both points and passing efficiency.
“We have a tremendous defensive coordinator in Dave Aranda,” Orgeron said. “He’s probably one of the best defensive minds I’ve ever been around. But we also have a great defensive staff, and the addition of Pete Jenkins this week helped our guys.
“We have some talent on defense, we have a great system, and Dave is an excellent play-caller.”
LSU set the tone of the game from the opening whistle by pressuring quarterback Drew Lock and the Missouri offense into three straight three-and-outs.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that Missouri earned a first down, a feat it immediately followed with an interception to Tre’Davious White on a poorly thrown ball across Lock’s body.
Missouri moved the ball slightly better the rest of the game — they went three-and-out on two more drives the next three quarters — but never called a play from inside the red zone.
Beyond Missouri’s touchdown drive, the deepest penetration it made into LSU territory was to the LSU 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs on its first possession of the second half.
And even when Missouri did move the ball well, it took a trick play to light up the scoreboard.
In a somewhat surprising twist, Lock, who was the No. 3 passer in the country before Saturday, wasn’t the one to throw Missouri’s touchdown pass — he was catching it.
In a rare lapse of defensive judgment for LSU, Lock slipped into the secondary while LSU was focused in on wide receiver Eric Laurent, who appeared to be taking a reverse before pulling up to find a wide-open Lock for the 21-yard score.
Lock finished the game with 167 yards on 17-of-37 passing and a quarterback rating of 78.5.
Defensive end Davon Godchaux said LSU made it a goal to bring Lock down behind the line after he was sacked only once this season coming into the game.
LSU had two sacks on Lock — Godchaux producing one of them — but they did not have much of an opportunity to generate more.
The LSU defense was on the field for 17 minutes and 18 seconds of game time as the offense racked up a season-high 42:42 time of possession.
LSU was well-rested all night as the offense went three-and-out only once and had two drives go less than two minutes.
Missouri had four drives last less than a minute and did not have a drive go longer than 3:44.
In fact, it was such a slow night for the defense that Godchaux got a little bored toward the end.
“The game kind of got boring a little bit,” Godchaux said. “We were on the sideline, the defensive line, talking about, ‘We want some sacks.’ (Lock) has only been sacked one time in the last four or five games, and we weren’t even on the field.”