LSU Tigers: Kent State Golden Flashes

What we learned: Week 3

September, 15, 2013
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU won its FBS-record 44th consecutive regular-season, nonconference game, 45-13 over Kent State on Saturday. Here's what we learned:

The Tigers come out ready to play: For any of the five Southeastern Conference opponents lined to play LSU before it takes a break from league play at the end of October, a word of warning -- don’t start slowly. The Tigers are fast from the gates. They led 21-0 on Saturday after 15 minutes for the second consecutive week. The Tigers have outscored three opponents 48-3 in the first quarter this season. On Saturday, running back Jeremy Hill took the fourth play from scrimmage for a 58-yard scoring burst through the heart of the Kent State defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger connected with Jarvis Landry for a 21-yard score on third and 20 to cap LSU’s second drive. Its third possession covered just 37 yards in four plays after Ego Ferguson’s sack of Kent State QB Colin Reardon to the 1-yard line created fantastic field position. Yes, the Tigers did it with defense, too, allowing 34 yards in the opening quarter. In the first half, LSU accumulated 359 yards to remove all suspense.

The backfield features options aplenty: Even with the sophomore Hill back for another game from his suspension to open the season, the Tigers look determined to play a committee of running backs. Hill started fast and rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, but junior Terrence Magee played early and gained 108 yards on nine carries. Alfred Blue got 10 carries, and the Tigers saved four attempts for Kenny Hilliard. According to coach Les Miles, Hill hasn’t reached the top of his game. “Snaps are a great teacher,” Miles said. “He just hasn’t had many.” If the four-headed monster works, why not stick with it? LSU produced 307 rushing yards against the Golden Flashes without so much as tiring one of its backs. Sounds like a great recipe for success in the SEC. Realistically, the Tigers figure to pare it down some. Hill, with some sharpening over the next few weeks, should emerge as the featured guy, but Magee, Hillard and the more compact Blue form a nice complementary trio.

That defense is maturing quickly: Hard to question those who doubted the ability of LSU’s defense to dominate this season after five of its starters -- in addition to cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who did not play a year ago -- landed in the top three rounds of the NFL draft in April. That’s a record number, by the way, for one defensive unit. And while they’re not dominant yet, the signs are there, especially up front, where ends Jermauria Rasco and Jordan Allen were supposed to anchor the line. They’re good, but tackles Ferguson and Anthony Johnson might be better. Ferguson and Johnson controlled the trenches on Saturday. Then there’s the second level, where linebacker Kwon Alexander continues to blossom and show rare athleticism. In the secondary, freshman cornerback Tre'Davious White stood out early in his first career start. Another first-time starter, safety Micah Eugene, and cornerback Jalen Collins were active with 11 tackles between them.
No. 8 Arkansas fell to Louisiana-Monroe in the season's first shocker. No. 7 Georgia also pushed past Missouri in an SEC East slugfest while Vanderbilt blew an early lead by allowing a 17-point fourth quarter to Northwestern.

With all of that going on, it's easy to forget that two other SEC teams -- Kentucky and Ole Miss -- squared off in non-conferences games of their own. With chaos going on all around them, the Rebels and Wildcats handled their business.

Kentucky 47, Kent State 14: It's hard to believe that this was a three-point game with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. After Kent State running back Traylon Durham scored from 26 yards out to cut Kentucky's lead to 17-14, the Wildcats exploded. Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith threw an 18-yard touchdown pass with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter, which capped off a run of 30 unanswered Wildcats points to close the game. Kentucky scored four touchdowns and caused a safety during a 12-minute stretch of play between the middle of the third quarter and the early fourth. Smith eviscerated the Golden Flashes' defense with 30 of 39 completions for 354 yards and four touchdowns.

Ole Miss 28, UTEP 10: His stats weren't as gaudy as Smith's, but Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace was efficient in leading the Rebels past UTEP for a 2-0 start. Wallace completed 15 of 22 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. The Rebels' defense shut the Miners out in the first half and didn't allow UTEP into the end zone until 10:57 mark of the third quarter. Ole Miss ran for a whopping 332 total yards, led by a 113-yard effort from running back Jeff Scott. It's slightly concerning that the Rebels surrendered 274 passing yards to a Conference USA team, especially with No. 17 Texas coming to town next week.


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