In their first game without longtime head coach Les Miles, the LSU Tigers finally looked like the team we thought they’d be in the preseason. Score one for athletic director Joe Alleva.
The Bayou Bengals dominated the Tigers of Columbia from start to finish, racking up a record 634 yards — 418 rushing, primarily from Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams, who had three touchdowns each.
Here are three things we learned from the LSU blowout:
Maybe a Coaching Change is Exactly What LSU Needed
There has been some doubt about whether firing Miles was the right move or not. Coaches around the conference said they didn’t like the move (what did you expect them to say?) and it seemed fair to ask whether, if Miles was on such a short leash, why he was allowed to return in 2016 in the first place. Those are probably still fair questions to ask.
What’s clear — at least for a night — is that a coaching change was the key to unlocking LSU’s talent and potential. The LSU team we thought we were getting in the preseason was one that would run the ball down opponents throats and shut them down on defense. For the first four weeks, that’s not really the team we saw. That changed tonight.
It’s still doubtful that Orgeron is given the job full-time, but LSU undoubtedly came out with a different energy level tonight than it had shown at any other point this season. Whether that’s an endorsement for Coach O or a criticism of Miles shouldn’t really matter.
Who Needs Leonard Fournette?
In case you were unaware, number seven for LSU is not the only talented running back on the roster. The primary star of this game was his backup, Derrius Guice, who lit up Mizzou for 163 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. Guice’s backup, Darrel Williams, contributed 130 yards of his own. Missouri had no answer. Even Leonard’s little brother Lanard got in the game for some late carries.
LSU obviously didn’t need Fournette tonight, and that looks like a blessing in disguise. He gets an extra week of rest, LSU gets a blowout victory anyways, and the offense around him has some more confidence as they take on Florida next weekend.
Mizzou Still Has a Ways to Go — On Both Sides of the Ball
There was some optimism that Missouri could pull an upset in this one. A lot of that had to do with LSU’s tumultuous week, but there was some thought that the explosive offense they’d shown would travel to Baton Rouge.
Uh, not so much. The Mizzou offense was only able to put up 265 yards of offense while giving up 634 on the other side of the ball. There is more talent on this team than last year, but it’s still not anywhere near where it needs to be to go into Death Valley and win, coaching change or no coaching change.
This was as demoralizing a loss as Mizzou has had in a long time. They couldn’t move the ball at all, and their up-tempo style was a big hindrance. LSU won the time of possession battle 42:42 to 17:18. Basically three quarters to one. That’s the ball game right there.
The defense couldn’t get penetration, couldn’t tackle, and couldn’t cover. It was a complete meltdown, and a bye week couldn’t come at a better time.