BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU quarterback Joe Burrow smiled playfully while urging reporters crowding around to him to write that the Tigers’ new offense “showed everything we got – all of it,” in its opener against overmatched Georgia Southern.
Burrow knew no one would believe him – not with LSU’s first true test against at No. 10 Texas coming up next weekend. Yet, even the plays LSU did run will put the rest of their opponents on notice that the Tigers are transformed offensively.
Burrow tied an LSU single-game record with five touchdown passes before halftime and No. 6 Tigers held a multi-touchdown lead for all but the first six minutes in a 55-3 victory on Saturday night.
Unleashing a new spread scheme, the Tigers (1-0) scored 21 points in the first quarter – something they never did in any quarter last season. Their point total was the most in a non-overtime game since scoring 63 against New Mexico State in 2014.
“I wanted 60 tonight,” Burrow said. “We’ve definitely come out of the stone age.”
Directing his unit with pace and precision, Burrow completed 23 of 27 passes for 278 yards without an interception before being subbed out after LSU’s first possession of the second half, which ended with a field goal. That was Burrow’s last chance to break the LSU mark of five touchdowns in a game set by Zach Mettenberger in 2013.
Designed largely by new passing-game coordinator Joe Brady and overseen by incumbent offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, the up-tempo, no-huddle scheme routinely features five receiving targets, some of whom give Burrow the option to unload the ball quickly if under pressure.
“We’re going to run the spread offense. We’re going to score points. We’ve got athletes. That’s what we do,” coach Ed Orgeron said. “The scheme is a lot better this year. We have answers to different coverages.”
SNAPPING TO IT
Burrow often was ready for the snap – and could be seen hopping anxiously – while officials stood over center, forcing the Tigers to wait until the Eagles (0-1) had a chance to make substitutions.
“I got on the officials a couple of times because we didn’t sub, and they were holding the ball up. We are trying to go tempo,” Burrow said. “We are going to keep building on this thing and make it even better.”
Burrow’s first touchdown pass capped a 75-yard drive that took just 2:24 off the clock. LSU led 14-0 with 8:10 remaining in the opening period. None of the Tigers’ six touchdown drives directed by Burrow lasted longer than 3:50.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Burrow completed passes to nine players. By the end, 14 LSU players had caught a pass, led by Justin Jefferson’s five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Terrace Marshall Jr. caught three short scoring passes.
Tight end Thaddeus Moss, the son of Hall-of-Fame receiver Randy Moss, caught two passes for 61 yards, including a 44-yarder deep down the right side.
“It was a blast,” Moss said. “Our offense has been the talk of the off-season. It felt good to finally put that out there.”
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for a short TD.
TIME ON TASK
Georgia Southern, which won 10 games last season, was confronted with an LSU defense prepared to stop its triple-option. Eagles starting quarterback Shai Werts completed one pass for no yards and was held to minus-7 yards rushing before being knocked out of the game with an apparent upper-body injury in the first half.
“Obviously we ran into a really good football team,” Georgia Southern coach Chad Lunsford said. “Coach O came across the field and said, `Hey, we’ve been preparing for you guys since February,’ and that showed.”
LSU finished with a 472-98 advantage in total yards.
LSU’s defense forced two turnovers. Rashard Lawrence forced a fumble recovered by Patrick Queen. Grant Delpit recovered a second fumble after outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson dislodged the ball with a hit that left running back Matt LaRoche needing attention on the field before walking off with help from trainers.
Georgia Southern: The Eagles were not as competitive as they hoped to be, but the quality of the opponent had a lot to do with that. Their Sun Belt Conference schedule won’t be as tough.
LSU: Even against an opponent from a mid-major conference, the Tigers had to be pleased with how sharp and dominant they looked offensively. Beyond the point total, there were no turnovers or sacks allowed. The defense also looked formidable and special teams play was solid.
LSU shouldn’t lose ground in the AP Top 25 Poll after a dominant showing.
Georgia Southern: Hosts Maine on Saturday, Sept. 7.
LSU: Visits No. 10 Texas on Saturday, Sept. 7