LSU improves somewhat, but still looks sluggish in victory over McNeese State

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE - LSU beat McNeese State, 34-7, on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium, but it did not exactly do so in flying colors. 

The Tigers (1-1) found themselves ahead by only 7-0 in the second quarter before taking a 17-0 lead at the half in an overall sluggish performance against a FCS school in front of 94,220 mostly quiet fans.

Running game still weak

In the first half, LSU managed just 62 yards on 20 carries. Tailback Tyrion Davis-Price led the way with 28 yards on five carries. Freshman tailback Armoni Goodwin sprinted for a 21-yard gain around left end in the first quarter, but carried just one other time in the half for a 2-yard gain.

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Sep 11, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers running back Armoni Goodwin (22) is tackled by McNeese State Cowboys defensive back Colby Richardson (1) after bering tripped up during the second quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Just after LSU took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the offense failed miserably after reaching a third-and-one at the LSU 44-yard line, erasing the momentum it had created. First, quarterback Max Johnson gained zero yards on a sneak. Then he lost a yard after fumbling the snap, and McNeese took over. No blocking. Bad play calls. Bad execution. Take your pick.

LSU finished with just 103 yards rushing on 36 carries as its offensive line continued to struggle.

Better protection for QB Max Johnson

Johnson was sacked twice in the first half, but he was not running for his life most of the game as was the case last week in the loss at UCLA. He finished with 18 completions in 27 attempts for 161 yards and three touchdowns and left early in the fourth quarter as freshman Garrett Nussmeier got his first action.

Johnson was also more accurate than last week. His 19-yard touchdown pass to Trey Palmer and his 3- and 6-yard touchdowns to Kayshon Boutte were on the money. He threw a perfect strike over the middle to wide receiver Jaray Jenkins, who dropped it to kill a drive.

Stadium field goal record falls twice

LSU kicker Cade York kicked a Tiger Stadium record 55-yard field goal with 1:41 to play in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 17-0 lead. The previous record was held by Wade Richey, who booted a 54-yard field goal in the Tigers' 41-14 win over Kentucky in 1996.

York already had the school record field goal with a 57-yard boot for a 37-34 upset of No. 6 Florida last season.

Then York broke his own record with a 56-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 27-0 lead.

Defense improves 

LSU's secondary and linebackers played better than in the opener as they eliminated big plays for the most part. McNeese State quarterback Cody Orgeron, the son of LSU coach Ed Orgeron, completed just 10 of 19 passes for 91 yards. And he did not have a completion for more than 12 yards until he hit tailback Carlo Williams for a 44-yard touchdown with 4:30 to play.

Best play call of the game

In a rare show of solidarity for halftime shows, LSU and McNeese State's marching bands joined together and spelled out "USA" in honor of the thousands killed in the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago in New York.

The two bands then marched off the field together toward the LSU bench.