LSU cruises past UAB, 56-17, in home opener

Jeremy Hill returned, Zach Mettenberger broke a record and LSU called on a lot of youth in a decisive 56-17 victory against UAB in the Tigers' 2013 home opener.

Behind a record-setting performance by Zach Mettenberger, No. 9 LSU throttled UAB 56-17 in a decisive home opener.

The senior quarterback tossed a school-best five touchdowns as the new-look Tiger offense surpassed the 440-yard mark for the second time this season. LSU scored first, last and a lot in the middle while the Blazers never presented much resistance.

"We have a lot of games against a lot of teams that frankly came down to the wire," said LSU coach Les Miles. "It's nice to have a game where you really distance yourself from your opponent and you play quality football."

Mettenberger kicked off his record pace midway through the first quarter with a 29-yard strike to Odell Beckham. The duo connected again less than four minutes later, the second of three scores Mettenberger would throw to Beckham.

Mettenberger threw two other touchdowns to Jarvis Landry to reach that school record. Coming off his 251-yard performance against TCU, Mettenberger continues to shine early with Cam Cameron at the helm.

"It's more important to get a win," Mettenberger said. "The five touchdowns is awesome, but at the end of the day we got the win."

After the first-quarter touchdown passes, Kenny Hilliard rumbled in from one-yard out to put the Tigers ahead 21-0 after 15 minutes of play.

A fumble on the first offensive play of the second quarter set up LSU for another touchdown. That series saw formerly suspended running back Jeremy Hill return to the field for the first time this season.

Hill took his first snap from the three-yard line and barreled in to get his first touchdown of 2013.

"I want to get him going," Miles said. "He's a guy that's been away from his team for four months. He's not in really great shape. If you look at him, you can tell...We got to get him in shape. If he's in great shape, he may be the best back."

That hill score put the Tigers up by four scores as the defense pitched a shutout through the first quarter, holding the Blazers to just 10 total yards.

But the LSU defense let up in the second quarter, surrendering 17 points and 182 yards of offense. Following the Hill touchdown, UAB QB Austin Brown led the Blazers on a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 11-yard run by Darrin Reaves.

Zach Mettenberger answered back with another touchdown pass on the next drive, but a Jarvis Landry fumble on the Tigers' next offensive possession set up another UAB score.

Starting at the LSU 39-hard line, Brown found JaMarcus Nelson, who beat Jalen Mills, on third-and-12 for a 41-yard touchdown pass.

"I really wasn't satisfied with it," said Mills, whose missed tackle also allowed the Reaves touchdown. "I let him catch the ball on me, and it's my fault. I wasn't really impressed with myself on that play, but there's always next week."

A UAB field goal as time expired in the first half cut the LSU lead to 18 heading into halftime, where the defensive coaches had a message for the team.

"The coaches may have put it in our heads," said Jordan Allen, who had his first career sack Saturday. "But it was a lot of self-discipline to get our minds right for the second half."

The LSU defense rebounded in style forcing three consecutive three-and-outs to open the half and eventually holding UAB scoreless for the remainder of the contest.

"We sat back on our heels and got a little too comfortable [in the second quarter]," said Lamin Barrow, who led the team with seven tackles. "We came out in the second half fighting. We had to fight the whole game and not let ourselves get complacent."

Three more third-quarter touchdowns, including the Mettenberger record-breaker to Landry, finally put the game out of reach. At that point it was a major youth movement for the Tigers.

Six LSU true freshmen made their first collegiate appearances, in addition to the eight that made their debut last week against TCU.

"We want to get them in so we can season them, so they're ready to go into games and play big," Miles said. "We're going to let that young class compete."

The Tigers move to 2-0 on the season, and return to the field next Saturday against Kent State. That game will kickoff at 6:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU.

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LSU vs. UAB: Game Thread


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