LSU rout of Texas A&M continues late-season surge that sets table for strong 2018
The heavy criticism that swirled around first-year coach Ed Orgeron and his LSU football team less than two months ago seem so much more distant.
The Tigers (9-3, 6-2) rolled past Texas A&M (7-5, 4-4) on Saturday, 45-21, to claim a sixth win in their past seven outings to not only salvage a bumpy September, but put together an impressive season overall.
And set the foundation nicely for the near-future in the process.
“After the Troy game (Sept. 30), I couldn’t think but about one second at a time, to be honest with you,” Orgeron said. “I could not look that far. I knew that we could get the team together, try to take it one day at a time, try to get the team right, fix the things that we could fix.
“After looking back at all the things that we went through, it’s a remarkable feat by a football team and our coaching staff.”
LSU finished with a season-high 601 total yards — just the sixth occasion since 2004 the program has tallied 600 or more yards of offense.
Senior quarterback Danny Etling completed 19 of his 30 pass attempts for 347 yards and three touchdowns, and 10 different receivers caught passes — led by seniors D.J. Chark’s five receptions for 86 yards and Russell Gage’s four for 81, with both players finding the end zone.
“We felt like if we could protect Danny, we could throw on them,” Orgeron said. “When you look at the improvement in our passing game over the season and the improvement of our receivers, I think there’s a big difference from last year and even the beginning of this season.”
Derrius Guice led the rushing attack with 127 yards and one score on 28 carries, and Darrel Williams added 106 yards and another touchdown on 12 attempts.
“We felt really confident going in that we had a really good plan,” junior tight end Foster Moreau said. “We ran the ball really effectively, which opened up the shots, which opened up the flats.”
LSU has now beaten Texas A&M on seven straight occasions over the past eight seasons, including five times by 12 or more points.
The Aggies haven’t won in the series since Sept. 2, 1995, before a 15-year gap in meetings.
“We pride ourselves in being physical here,” Orgeron said. “And we pride ourselves in being able to run the football. And we pride ourselves in being able to stop the football. Those are the things. I’ve gotta thank (strength and conditioning coach) Tommy Moffitt and the strength staff. We’ve got guys that are bigger and stronger and faster this year, and we want to continue to build on that.”
Echoed sophomore linebacker Devin White: “We out-dominate a lot of people, and Texas A&M just happens to be one of those teams that we always out-dominate — no matter the circumstances. And we showed it tonight, because our front seven played extremely well and we ran the ball extremely well on offense. So hats off to our strength coaches, because they got us ready for this game.”
The performance continues to build the foundation for 2018 both for the current players expected to return and for the prospects on the recruiting trail that Orgeron hopes to add to his roster.
White suggested that had the team’s current leaders, including himself, already established themselves prior to early disappointments against Mississippi State and Troy, that those early losses would have never occurred.
Their return next season should prove beneficial, he said.
“We’re riding this momentum into next year,” White explained. “Next year, there’s no ‘finding leadership.’ We know who our leaders are gonna be. I’m one of ’em, and I’m gonna take accountability to it, and I’m gonna step up early.”
Jerit Roser can be reached at Jerit@DatBoot.com.