Tigers efficient in victory over Huskies
By Les East
September 15, 2012
- Photos: LSU beats Washington, 41-3
- Rabalais: Huskies had no shot vs. these Tigers
- Washington QB Keith Price can’t get things going against LSU
- Celebrities abound at LSU-Washington game
- Upon further review
- Running backs Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue boost LSU running game
- LSU finds new playmaker in Odell Beckham Jr.
“We ran the football when we needed to and we passed when we needed to.” LES MILES, LSU football coach
LSU’s methodical 41-3 victory against Washington on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium was historically significant.
The Tigers (2-0) extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 19 games, tying the school record set between 2005-07.
They beat a nonconference opponent in a regular-season game for the 39th consecutive time (improving to 29-0 under coach Les Miles in such games), tying Kansas State’s FBS record. LSU will be heavily favored to break the record when it plays Idaho Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
But there were other reasons the victory was significant in the here and now.
The Tigers offensive line held up fine with senior Josh Dworaczyk stepping in for Chris Faulk, who’s likely out for the season because of a knee injury suffered in practice during the week. LSU didn’t match the 508 yards it amassed in a 41-14 victory against North Texas last week, but it still had 437 against the more talented Huskies (1-1).
The defense limited the Huskies to 183 total yards, including 26 on 24 rushes. After falling to get a sack last week, the Tigers had four and generally made things uncomfortable for Keith Price, Washington’s talented junior quarterback.
LSU, which was penalized 10 times in the opener, had half as many infractions and flustered the Huskies, who were penalized 10 times for 64 yards.
The Tigers didn’t match the pair of 100-yard rushers that they had last week, but Alfred Blue had his second consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 101 on 14 carries. The running back depth was nonetheless on display again as LSU finished with 242 yards on 52 carries and ran for four touchdowns, two by Kenny Hilliard and one each by Blue and fullback J.C. Copeland.
Zach Mettenberger was efficient, completing 12-of-18 for 195 yards and a touchdown and didn’t turn the ball over. He would have had better statistics if not for a handful of dropped passes.
“If you take the number of drops out of the equation and you look at the quarterback play, he was on the money,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We would be well over 200 yards passing, which is kind of a landmark for us.
“We ran the football when we needed to and we passed it when we needed to. We are showing more balance offensively. I think the defense played awfully well. “
The Tigers started badly as Odell Beckham Jr., who returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown against North Texas, fumbled the opening kickoff and Thomas Tutogi recovered at the LSU 20.
The Huskies couldn’t take full advantage of the opportunity, signaling how the night was going to go. Jaydon Mickens couldn’t handle Price’s third-down pass into the end zone and Washington settled for Travis Coons’ 34-yard field goal.
LSU then went to work with its running game as Blue broke free for a 21-yard touchdown that put the Tigers ahead to stay less than four minutes into the game.
Later in the quarter, Copeland scored on a 1-yard run, his second touchdown in as many games after having just two carries for zero yards in his first two seasons.
LSU, which held North Texas to 22 yards on 15 plays in the first quarter, limited the Huskies to 18 yards on 17 first-quarter plays. It didn’t get much better in the rest of the quarters.
“We had a great deal of third-and-longs,” said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, whose team was 4-of-16 on third-down conversions and 1-of-3 on fourth downs. “Against this team and their style of play when they are really good in man-to-man coverage, it’s going to be a long day for you.”
Defensive end Sam Montgomery, who didn’t start or record a stat against North Texas, had one of the four sacks for the Tigers, who had none in the opener. He also had three of LSU’s seven quarterback hurries.
Linebacker Kevin Minter had two of the Tigers’ seven pass break-ups and freshman cornerback Jalen Mills had an interception as Price finished 17-of-36 for 157 yards. He lost 24 yards on five carries, four of which were sacks.
“Going into the game we understood that Price was a dual-threat quarterback,” LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan said. “He can run the ball just as much as he can pass it. Our main thing was to make sure that we kept him contained.”
The Tigers sputtered inside the Huskies 20 twice in the second quarter. They drove to a first-and-goal at the 7, but couldn’t get in the end zone, and another drive stalled after Russell Shepard dropped a pass in the end zone. Drew Alleman, who missed a 30-yard field goal last week, salvaged points from both of those drive, making kicks of 18 and 32 yards.
That sent LSU into halftime with a 20-3 lead that seemed even bigger because of Washington’s inability to move the ball.
In the second half, Mettenberger squeezed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Kadron Boone between scoring runs of 3 yards and 1 yard by Hilliard.
“It’s pretty clear from the naked eye that’s a pretty good football team that got after us,” Sarkisian said.
The third-ranked Tigers haven’t lost a regular-season game against a non-Southeastern Conference since the 2002 season opener at Virginia Tech and haven’t been beaten in Tiger Stadium since losing to Florida nearly three years ago.
“I think this is a very difficult place to play,” Miles said. “I think (the non-conference streak) speaks to the strength of the school and the opportunities for all the athletes with the want and desire to participate and to win.
“Not a bad night. It’s kind of nice to be a Tiger.”