Familiar foibles return, but LSU offense opens strong

ARLINGTON, Texas — TCU’s field goal block team didn’t plow into the LSU line as Colby Delahoussaye split the uprights from 23 yards to end the first half Saturday.

Perhaps the No. 20 Horned Frogs were still in a fog at the flummoxing three-minute stretch to end the first half of No. 12 LSU’s 37-27 victory in the Cowboys Classic.

As for LSU, the Tigers again treated the red zone like the Bermuda Triangle. Six times LSU drove inside the TCU 20-yard line, and it left with a touchdown half the time.

“They did everything they could,” Miles said. “(TCU) had a really nice game plan against us. They made some significant changes in their front and the way they played it.”

New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron added pizzazz to LSU’s play call chart to help generate 448 yards of total offense, but the Tigers were the same inefficient unit at capitalizing on their efforts.

In this week’s episode of “The Twilight Zone,” left tackle La’el Collins’ helmet was stripped off with five seconds left in the second quarter. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger fled the pocket on third-and-12 and watched Alfred Blue fail to make a catch at the TCU 2.

Officials ruled Collins losing his lid was a 10-second runoff. With less than that amount of time left, referee John O’Neil waved the half over. Until the zebras remembered about the incomplete pass, which negated the runoff.

So, the Horned Frogs, and miffed coach Gary Patterson, came back out from the tunnel And Delahoussaye booted his third field goal.

Cameron showed he can keep LSU’s offense from sputtering, especially considering Mettenberger’s 251 yards and one TD on 16-of-32 passing.

“Zach will have nights like that pretty routinely from this point forward,” Miles said.

“That’s exactly right,” Miles said. “Zach will have nights like that continuing from this point forward.”

Until a 3-yard Terrence Magee touchdown run and a 20-yard touchdown throw to Jarvis Landry in the second half, LSU’s red zone play was woeful.

“We have to be better there,” Miles said, “when we’re in striking distance.”

On its opening drive, LSU reached the TCU 6 before Mettenberger threw the ball away out of the back of the end zone, followed by Kevin White batting down a would-be scoring throw to tight end DeSean Smith. Out trotted Delahoussaye for a 23-yarder with 9:29 left in the first quarter.

After James Wright forced a fumble on the ensuing TCU kickoff, LSU started at the Horned Frogs’ 10-yard line. On second-and-goal, Mettenberger had Landry on a slant route that was broken up by Jason Verrett. A play later, Kevin White broke up another would-be TD to Travin Dural. Again, Delahoussaye notched points — a 28-yarder for a 6-0 lead.

It summed up Metttenberger’s first-half stats, where he was 10-of-22 passing for 167 yards.

Four of those incompletions were throwaways in the face of pressure, followed by three pass breakups and two drops by Odell Beckham Jr. — one of which came on a perfect spiral down the seam midway through the second quarter.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot, and we need to keep working on that, Mettenberger said. “We killed some drives. We weren’t able to overcome them. But I can guarantee next week we’ll be a lot better.”

Miles acknowledged there were “a couple of balls dropped that we’d like to have back and certainly a fumble here or there and a more distinctive attack on the ground.”

Then came the crescendo at the end of the first half. And the folly in the final seconds, and a testament some habits are hard to kick — literally.