By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
NEW ORLEANS — STOCK UP: Wide receivers
Perhaps a bigger question mark than any other position group, the LSU pass catches put together an all-around solid showing. DJ Chark led the way, hauling in four passes for 77 yards including a 52-yard bomb, but the passing game wasn’t a one-man show on Saturday night. Russell Gage caught both of his targets for 36 yards and rushed for 24 yards on three jet sweeps, which he punctuated by hurdling a defender. Derrick Dillon converted two critical third-and-longs in the first half as LSU built its lead. Altogether, Danny Etling went 8-of-8 for 134 yards when targeting his wideouts.
STOCK UP: Depth on D
Considering LSU was missing at least 15 players due to various reasons — including starting defenders Arden Key, Kevin Toliver and Donnie Alexander — the dominant defensive performance put forth Saturday night bodes well for the Tigers moving forward, even as the level of competition steps up. The secondary stifled BYU despite missing its No. 2 cornerback and multiple reserves who would’ve played a role otherwise. Freshmen Tyler Taylor and K’Lavon Chaisson showed what he could do at linebacker. Grant Delpit and Ed Paris both made plays at free safety. All those developments will mean more depth once reinforcements arrive.
STOCK DOWN: Penalties
At times the LSU offense was its own worst enemy in the first half against BYU. The Tigers stalled multiple promising drives that could’ve salted the game away early thanks to a litany of penalties. All told LSU got flagged 10 times for 86 yards compared to just five penalties called against BYU. Most of those flags were procedural, illegal motions and shifts, which are to be expected in the first live implementation of Canada’s shift-heavy offense. Still, those need to be cleaned up and corrected before the flags start flying in a far more competitive game.
STOCK DOWN: Red Zone
Given the way LSU dominated on both sides of the ball, the score probably should’ve been more lopsided than the 27-0 final margin. The reason it wasn’t is simple inefficiency in the red zone. LSU made seven trips inside the BYU 20-yard line but only managed to come away with three touchdowns, one of which was set up by an ill-advised BYU fake punt in the fourth quarter. LSU settled for three field goal attempts — one of which Jack Gonsulin pushed wide right — and got stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.