How it Happened
After two three-and-outs to open the game with Brandon Harris under center, LSU went with Purdue transfer quarterback Danny Etling and the Tigers reeled off three straight touchdowns led by Etling and Derrius Guice. Guice had a career night with 155 yards and a touchdown. Etling hit Desean Smith for a 46-yard touchdown pass to put LSU up 6-3 as the Tigers missed the extra point. LSU scored on its next offensive possession and the Gamecocks answered with a 76-yard touchdown pass, but after that, LSU controlled the rest of the first half.
In the second half, LSU managed just one touchdown, but the Tigers were suffocating on defense until late in the game when the Tigers gave up a field goal. LSU had some trouble early defending Eli Jenkins' early, but kept pressuring the JSU quarterback and were able to keep the Gamecocks at bay. Etling finished without completing a pass in the second half. That's concerning, but Etling did have a 3rd down completion called back on a hold. Overall, LSU made plays in all three facets of the game with a special teams touchdown by Tre'Davious White, but also had an extra point blocked and had some issues punting again.
What it Means
The Tigers have found their starting quarterback. I don't think there's any doubt that Danny Etling is now the guy for LSU to lead them through the SEC schedule at least for now. It was a good night for Etling to shake some rust off and get comfortable this year going into SEC play. While his second half was underwhelming to say the least, Etling has shown that he can direct an LSU offense that can spread it around to the tight ends, while also being able to go down the field. It's just one game, but LSU has its quarterback for the season it looks like. Justin McMillan did enter the game for LSU at the end, but I'd guess it's Etling's job to lose.
Player of the Game: Derrius Guice
In his first career start, Derrius Guice went for 155 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Guice averaged 8.2 yards per carry and was full of big plays for the Tigers tonight as he went for six runs of 10 or more yards. Guice got the start with Leonard Fournette out and proved he can carry the load. The Tigers should look to him more with the wear and tear of SEC play and Fournette's ankle still in question.
After starting 6-for-8 for 100 yards, having two drops and a touchdown, Etling came back down to earth in the second half. Etling finished 6 for 14 for 100 yards and a touchdown without a completion in the second half. Etling fumbled and threw an interception in the second half. It was 721 days between his touchdown pass for LSU tonight and his last one for Purdue. There was rust to be shaken off to say the least.
The Tigers open SEC play at Tiger Stadium next week against Mississippi State at 6 pm CT.