LSU doesn’t allow BYU to cross 50-yard line in dominant, ironic Superdome return
With seemingly eyes on offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s debut, LSU’s dominant — and ironic — defense stole the show in the program’s return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Tigers (1-0) held BYU (1-1) to just 92 yards of total offense in Saturday’s 27-0 shutout victory to begin the 2017 schedule, their first season-opening shutout since 2007.
In fact, the Cougars failed to cross the 50-yard line in a performance many fans and media throughout the day likened to LSU’s own offensive futility in the 2011 national championship contest in the same venue.
“I think the second quarter, we’re over there looking at the stats and saying, ‘You know, we’ve got a real shot of doing this,'” senior defensive lineman Christian LaCouture said. “We expect to be that. But you never know at the game — you could have a great performance, but it’s 200 yards total or 300 yards total, but you played well.
“But when I saw in the fourth-quarter, it’s (about) 97 yards, I’m like, ‘No, we’re staying in. We’ve gotta keep going.'”
Added sophomore defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence: “We saw it. We kept looking at the scoreboard, and it was like -1 rushing yards, 0 rushing yards. It was like, ‘Aye, it doesn’t matter who you play. If you can do that. That’s special.'”
The 2011 Tigers actually crossed midfield for four plays in the fourth quarter of their 21-0 loss to Alabama, although the offensive frustration and stagnation of that 97-yard evening became a renewed running joke on social media and around the stadium.
But what Saturday’s statistics mean to the current LSU coaches and players is more about the future.
“We held them to -5 yards rushing — another tremendous job by our defense,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “You have to credit (defensive coordinator) Dave Aranda and (defensive line coach) Pete Jenkins. Those are two of the best in the business. (Defensive backs coach) Corey Raymond did not allow any deep balls. The one they tried to throw, they picked it.
“Give credit to (outside linebackers coach) David Johnson. Just a tremendous job by our staff.”
One on which the Tigers hope they can continue to build.
Sophomores Devin White, a linebacker, and Rashard Lawrence, a defensive lineman, led the unit with five and four tackles, respectively.
Senior linebacker Corey Thompson recorded a game-high two sacks and three total tackles, and junior safety John Battle recorded four tackles.
“Coming into the game, we knew they were good on offense — very disciplined,” Lawrence said. “But I think we were more disciplined tonight, and we played very. And as the game got farther and farther, we knew that if we kept putting it to ’em and going at ’em and going at ’em, that we could hold them. And we stayed on our keys all night, and those were the results.”
But, in the absence of several suspended players, a slew of freshmen, including three true freshman starters, played major roles around the experienced core.
“We expect it out of them,” LaCouture said. “We’ve seen young guys play big roles. And going in there, you see a guy like (Andraez) ‘Greedy’ Williams, a redshirt freshman go in there and get a pick right off the bat, first play of that drive — a huge momentum shift. And a lot of those guys were doing that.”
Jerit Roser can be reached at Jerit@DatBoot.com.