One day after Les Miles' men beat Auburn 45-21 in Tiger Stadium, TSD's Ben Love is handing out grades for LSU on both sides of the ball and special teams.
RUSH OFFENSE: A+
Hard to ask for a lot more than 411 yards on the ground, including a career-best 228 yards from Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette and 66 yards rushing from quarterback Brandon Harris, who figured in more to the ground game. Freshman Derrius Guice also left his mark, ripping off 55 yards on six carries. The offensive line delivered its best performance in perhaps a year or two. Worth mentioning that the tight ends collectively got it done blocking after senior Dillon Gordon went out with an Achilles' injury.
PASS OFFENSE: C
It's still fairly clear the LSU offensive staff isn't ready to completely turn Harris loose, but considering the opponent and its defensive inadequacies, the game plan Saturday was what it should've been - stay on the ground. Harris finished 12-of-17 for 74 yards and a short touchdown on a bootleg to tight end Colin Jeter. His longest completed pass of the night was 14 yards. On the up side, he was not sacked and did not turn the ball over. The Bayou Bengals looked crisp in the red zone, another positive in the passing game. This grade could just as easily be "Incomplete," but there were some strides taken.
RUSH DEFENSE: B
This grade could've been higher, but the second half wasn't terribly pretty defending Auburn and quarterback Jeremy Johnson on the ground. He ended up, before taking out losses for LSU's five sacks, with 94 yards rushing and a long 65-yard touchdown up the gut. Auburn as a whole ran for 160 yards. The first-half effort was outstanding, in many ways like the Mississippi State game, but Miles is looking for maturity in his team to close out games. Kevin Steele's group also has to regroup a touch against the inside read-option keeps Johnson began to find success on.
PASS DEFENSE: A
The numbers don't lie: LSU held Auburn to only 100 yards through the air, grabbed an interception and totaled five sacks in a pass rush that has started the season hot. Jamal Adams landed the pick and nearly had another that surely would've went for an uncontested touchdown. And the pass rush, spearheaded by defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and his two sacks, is making life easier for the guys in the back. LSU also got a sack, strip and recover from Frank Herron, a good sign for defensive line depth. The Tigers continue to be a tough team to pass on either horizontally or vertically.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
LSU finally attempted a field goal with Trent Domingue making a 32-yarder in the second quarter. Veteran punter Jamie Keehn put together his second strong effort to start the campaign with two of his three punts landing inside the 20 and an average of 40.3 yards-per-punt. Holding this grade back slightly is a return game that is still trying to find its way some. It's not been bad, just not consistently an explosive unit early on.