It didn't take LSU long to get its act together against Louisiana Tech's porous defense.">
It didn't take LSU long to get its act together against Louisiana Tech's porous defense.">

First half explosion is more like it

LSU's first-half explosion against Louisiana Tech last Saturday night represented what those associated with the Tigers long suspected of their offense.<br><br> "We knew coming into the season, we had something special," senior wide receiver Devery Henderson said. "It was a matter of getting it going."<br><br> It didn't take LSU long to get its act together against Louisiana Tech's porous defense.

By the end of Tigers' third play from scrimmage, junior Michael Clayton had a 34-yard touchdown reception to his credit.

 

Henderson later added two touchdown catches totaling 96 yards, as LSU shot to a 49-3 halftime lead. He would have had more had LSU not shut down its offensive machine in the second half and settled for a 49-10 victory. Sophomore Skyler Green nearly ran at will after catching a career-high nine passes that he parlayed into a career-best 103 yards and one touchdown.

 

"The receivers were getting so open, it was kind of easy for me," said junior quarterback Matt Mauck, who completed his first 14 passes in tying Chad Loup's 10-year-old school record for consecutive completions in a game. "I didn't do a whole lot."

 

Mauck should have said he didn't miss a whole lot. He completed 18 of 20 passes for a career-high 311 yards. His 90 percent completion rate established a school record for a quarterback with 20 attempts or more, and his four touchdown passes matched his career best.  If LSU hadn't shown any mercy, Mauck could have padded his statistics to the point of being ridiculous in size.

 

If anyone should be concerned about individual numbers, it is Clayton, who needs them to help his cause in the race for the Bilitnekoff Award. Clayton is among 10 finalists for the honor bestowed upon former LSU standout Josh Reed last year as the nation's best receiver. Clayton isn't so vain that he's thinks only of himself, though. He's more concerned with the score being in LSU's favor every week than he is in the figures that he accumulates along the way.

 

"People ask me why I don't get frustrated when I don't get the ball," he said. "You look out there and see all the threats. The ball has to be distributed equally for the offense to jell."

 

That's what has happened during a three-game winning streak in which the Tigers have displayed a more consistent offense than at any time this season. During that span, LSU has averaged 37.7 points per game against two Southeastern Conference foes and a Louisiana Tech club so overmatched that LSU could have set a school record for points if it so desired.

 

Sophomore tackle Andrew Whitworth chalked it up to a more relentless attitude the Tigers have adopted since losing to Florida on Oct. 11, 19-7. Mauck said the offense finally has begun to mimic the tireless effort the defense has exhibited all season.

 

The results can be seen in a rise in the national polls that is reflective of the Tigers' continued improvement and their 8-1 record. National-championship talk before LSU played Florida was premature. Since losing to the Gators, LSU has rebounded with a ferocity that makes it one of the country's best. With Oklahoma the only team that clearly stands out from the others, LSU compares to the national contenders as well as it has at any time in nearly 35 years. Maybe longer.

 

LSU's defense has proven itself time and again with performances worthy of its lofty statistical rating. Now that the offense is following suit, the Tigers seem to be onto something those inside the program knew was there all along.

 

"The way we're playing right now (offensively), is the way I visualized us being capable of playing,"  Coach Nick Saban said. "The guys (receivers) are all contributing, which has made a difference, and we're running the ball well."

 

Injuries to others have allowed freshmen tailbacks Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent to showcase their talents. They both scored a touchdown against the Bulldogs in helping LSU to 653 yards total offense.

 

"We're running the ball better than we did early in the season," senior offensive tackle Rodney Reed said. The line also is blocking better in yet another sign that the Tigers' offensive aggression has become more pronounced.

 

LSU now faces its second and final open date with the realization that the last time it had a bye week, it emerged with a loss to Florida. Whitworth such a fate won't befall the Tigers when they visit Alabama on Nov. 15. A road trip to Ole Miss follows before LSU will conclude its regular season at home against Arkansas on Nov. 28.

Tough talk isn't enough, though. LSU's actions have to mirror its words. So far, during LSU's latest winning streak, that's been the case. If LSU can sustain the momentum this time, be prepared for some more explosive productions.


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