Sunday, September 2, 2012
Instant Analysis: LSU 41, UNT 14
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU made enough mistakes to allow North Texas to hang around for awhile, but completely dominated a 41-14 season-opening win Saturday at Tiger Stadium that sets up a much tougher game with Washington next week.
Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue both went over 100 yards rushing for LSU, and Zach Mettenberger completed 19 of 26 passes for 192 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Tigers, who more than doubled UNT's yardage (508-219) and nearly tripled the Mean Green's first downs (26-9)
LSU had a rough stretch late in the first half when an interception in the UNT red zone, a long UNT touchdown and a missed field goal kept the Tigers from blowing the game open as quickly as they would have liked.
It was over when: Hilliard scored on a 5-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to give LSU a 21-0 lead while the overmatched Mean Green was still in the middle of a stretch when their first five possessions resulted in 3-and-out.
Game ball goes to: Hilliard, whose 38-yard touchdown run gave LSU its first touchdown of the game. He added another highlight with a 60-yard run late in the first half. A physical back, he showed nifty feet on the big runs and finished with a game-high 141 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. Honorable mention goes to Blue, who had 123 yards on 16 carries.
Stat of the game: While it wasn't always pretty, LSU's 508 yards offense would have been the most it gained in any game last season. If LSU fans wanted improved offense, it was delivered. Kadron Boone caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Mettenberger and, with a couple of late deep passes, LSU had the offensive balance it often lacked last season.
What it means: With two running backs hitting the 100-yard mark and the Tigers keeping it mostly close to the vest in the passing game, LSU looked to still be a conservative offensive team until Mettenberger hit some late deep passes. We'll find out if that's truly the case when Washington visits Saturday, a game where the Tigers might need to be more aggressive offensively.
Best call: On Hilliard's first touchdown, there wasn't a player within five yards of him as he burst through the hole. It was blocked perfectly and the call found the weak spot.
What we learned about LSU: We learned that there are still some unanswered questions. The offense looked better, if still somewhat conservative. North Texas' speedy wideout, Brelan Chancellor, might have exposed some deficiencies in LSU's secondary with two touchdown catches, including an 80-yard catch and run from Derek Thompson just before halftime. Thompson completed 8 of 21 passes for 143 yards, so LSU dominated the passing game most of the night, but a couple of breakdowns proved costly.