BATON ROUGE, La. --If LSU wanted a sharp performance the week before the Florida game, it's not getting one at Tiger Stadium.
The offense got booed as Zach Mettenberger was off his game with another lost fumble and the first fumble of the year by an LSU running back, Kenny Hilliard, set Towson up for a field goal. And Towson, the No. 12 team in the FCS, competed hard to stay within 17-9 of LSU at halftime.
LSU actually trailed 9-7 before Mettenberger hit Odell Beckham, Jr., on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 2:52 left in the first half. LSU added a field goal after a shanked Towson punt.
Stat of the half: 28, LSU's total offense on an anemic stretch of five drives. After Russell Shepard's 78-yard touchdown run on LSU's second possession seem to get the Tigers started, the Tigers went into neutral against an FCS defense in a way that recalled some of its poor performances last season. The Tigers finally rallied late for 10 points in the final three minutes and had a deceivingly decent 207 yards offense, 38 percent coming on one run by Shepard.
Player of the half: Towson junior middle linebacker Monte Gaddis had six tackles, 2.5 for loss, including a 10-yard sack of Mettenberger.
What's working for LSU: The usual dominant defense. LSU had three sacks of Grant Enders in the first half, 1.5 by Lavar Edwards and was stingy against the run. One 43-yard scramble by Enders was the one bad play on offense.
What's not working for LSU: Lost fumbles, by Hilliard and Mettenberger, led to all nine Towson points. LSU replaced left tackle Josh Dworaczyk with true freshman Vadal Alexander, who started at right tackle while usual right tackle Alex Hurst shifted to left tackle. The new-look line gave up two sacks and Mettenberger was pressured on several other attempts.
Mettenberger completed 8 of 16 passes for 91 yards in what was a dysfunctional half for the Tigers quarterback.