Grading LSU: Tigers improve on defense in win over South Carolina
BATON ROUGE - LSU coach Ed Orgeron knows there is much improvement to be made, but he looked like a new man on Saturday night after a 52-24 win over South Carolina to even his team at 2-2 on the season.
"Two weeks of hard work," he said after an open date on Oct. 17 that followed a disheartening, 45-41 loss at Missouri on Oct. 10. "This was a total team effort, and I have to thank the coaching staff that worked tireless hours to get our guys ready."
Here are LSU's grades for a game in which the Tigers revived their season before playing at Auburn (3-2) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
OFFENSE - A: The Tigers showed more balance than in any game this season, rushing for 276 yards on 54 carries as quarterback TJ Finley threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-21 passing. Tailback Tyrion Davis-Price gained 135 yards on 22 carries, while tailback John Emery Jr. added 88 on 18 carries.
The run helped settle down Finley in his first start as a true freshman and helped the troubled defense as well.
DEFENSE - C: And that's a drastic improvement. LSU held the Gamecocks to 169 yards rushing on 29 carries. It allowed only 234 yards passing to South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill on 12-of-22 passing with an interception returned 45 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Elias Ricks.
The Tigers sacked Hill five times and harassed him throughout the night. Defensive end BJ Ojulari had three sacks and a quarterback hurry. LSU forced only one punt, but it stalled four other drives to force field goals with Parker White missing three of those. That is something to build on, considering how horrible LSU was in losses to Mississippi State and Missouri.
SPECIAL TEAMS - B: Holy Cow! LSU returned a kickoff for a touchdown in Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1981 as Trey Palmer brought one back 93 yards in the third quarter for a 38-17 lead. Cade York booted a 27-yard field goal, and punter Zach Von Rosenberg took the night off as the Tigers never punted.
COACHING - B: LSU finally looked committed to running the ball, and it helped the passing game. On defense, it finally looked like the Tigers practiced and knew what they were doing.
"Were we perfect? No," Orgeron said. "We still have got to continue to fix it on defense."