Sophomore receiver shines on otherwise dim night
It was just three weeks ago that Odell Beckham Jr.’s pair of dropped passes were at the forefront of the sloppiness LSU was trying to clean up.
But on Saturday night, Beckham redeemed himself in the Tigers’ otherwise mistake-filled 38-22 victory against Towson.
Teammates were fumbling and stumbling and committing penalties and missing tackles, but Beckham was spearheading the offensive attack. He caught his first two touchdowns of the season — from 27 and 53 yards — among his five receptions, and he accumulated a career-best 128 yards.
“As a receiver, you have to catch great balls like that to get your confidence back, and this game definitely helped out,” said Beckham, a sophomore from Newman High School. “You just have to move forward from here.”
Beckham also had a 30-yard punt return.
Red flag in red zone
The red zone continues to be a problem area for LSU. The Tigers failed to score on just four of their 61 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line last season, but this season, they have failed on six of their 25 trips.
Last season, LSU scored touchdowns on 72 percent of its red-zone trips, but this season, it has scored touchdowns just 56 percent of the time (14 of 25).
The LSU defense isn’t having a banner year in the red zone, either. The Tigers have allowed their opponents to score on all eight trips into the red zone, yielding touchdowns 75 percent of the time.
Last season, LSU allowed opponents to score on 88 percent of its red-zone trips (23 of 26) and to get in the end zone on 46 percent of the trips (12 of 26).
Punt coverage special
The LSU special teams have been less consistent than they were a year ago. Drew Alleman (6-for-9) has one more missed field goal than he had all of last season, when he made 16 of 18, and penalties have been commonplace.
But the Tigers are once again holding opponents to almost nothing on punt returns, thanks to Brad Wing’s effectiveness as a punter and the work of the coverage unit. Opponents have returned just six punts and gained a net of 2 yards. Last season, LSU’s opponents gained just 73 yards on 20 punt returns.
Second quarter toughest
For some reason, the second quarter has stood out as LSU’s poorest period. The Tigers have outscored their opponents just 40-33 in the second quarter.
LSU has much bigger scoring edges in the other quarters — 58-10 (first), 48-0 (third) and 49-20 (fourth).
LSU has started three different halfbacks this season after Spencer Ware made his first start of the year Saturday. Kenny Hilliard started against Auburn in place of Alfred Blue, who’s out indefinitely with a knee injury. ... The Tigers could be looking for a new starting fullback after J.C. Copeland injured a knee against Towson. ... Two freshmen — OT Vadal Alexander and LB Kwon Alexander (no relation) — made their first starts Saturday. ... LSU is 5-0 for the fourth straight season and fifth time in Les Miles’ eight seasons.
Sacks are a draw
The LSU offensive and defensive lines were expected to be two of the team’s strongest areas, but the Tigers’ sack statistics aren’t impressive after five games.
In fact, LSU has allowed the same number of sacks and it has made (11). The Tigers have dropped opposing quarterbacks for minus-60 yards. Zach Mettenberger has been dropped for 94 yards in losses.