NEW ORLEANS -- Derrius Guice looks like he can thrive in LSU's new offense and the Tigers' inexperience on defense does not appear to be a liability whatsoever.
Guice rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 13 LSU never allowed BYU's offense to cross midfield in a 27-0 defeat of the Cougars on Saturday night.
Louisiana native Ed Orgeron was able to celebrate a largely stress-free victory in his maiden season opener as LSU's head coach, but also saw his offense squander scoring chances that could have made the result even more lopsided.
"We had some miscues down on the goal line but a lot of it is just some first-game stuff," quarterback Danny Etling said. "It's good to get it out of the way. You want to cut down on those mistakes, but all in all I thought it was a pretty good night."
The good news for LSU was that a defense with four true freshmen in the starting lineup -- and without injured top pass rusher Arden Key -- held BYU to fewer than 100 yards. And the last time LSU played in the Superdome, it was the Tigers who didn't cross midfield during a loss to Alabama in the 2012 national title game.
"People were joking about years ago the LSU offense the last time in this place, but look what our defense did," defensive end Rashard Lawrence said. "We knew what the stats were on the sidelines for a large portion of the fourth quarter. We were checking the yards and just encouraging the guys in there once the starters came out to just keep holding them."
Operating an overhauled offensive scheme under new coordinator Matt Canada, LSU piled up enormous statistical advantages but stalled four times inside the BYU 20 -- twice coming away with no points, once because of a missed field goal and once because of a failed run on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Tigers outgained BYU (1-1) 479 yards to 97, and Etling proved right those teammates and coaches who said he has looked more accurate since recovering from offseason back surgery. Etling completed 14 of 17 passes for 173 yards, including completions of 52 yards to D.J. Chark and 32 yards to Russell Gage. He did not have a touchdown pass, but didn't turn the ball over, either.
Etling did "exactly what we asked him to do tonight," Orgeron said. "He did fantastic. But It goes to show you the hard work he did all summer. He learned. He studied. The guy's a relentless worker. Our guys believe in him."
The game was supposed to be played in Houston, but was moved because of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Still, the "Texas Kickoff" logo was on the Superdome field and the LSU band played "Texas My Texas" before kickoff.
Cougars QB Tanner Mangum was 12 of 24 for 102 yards while under routine pressure. He was sacked three times.
"They showed some of the best defense I've seen in college football," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. "We just couldn't get anything going."
The Cougars also had a fake punt deep in their own territory snuffed out, resulting in Darrel Williams' 1-yard TD.
Guice scored LSU's first TD on a 4-yard run through the middle of the line on what was his 10th carry of a 13-play, 66-yard drive. Guice gained 50 of those yards. His second TD was 1-yard run capping a drive that began after Andraez Williams' interception and which featured Etling's long pass to Chark.
BYU: The Cougars were a little concerned by a less-than-convincing season-opening victory over Portland State of the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision. This result won't help.
LSU: It looks like LSU has plenty of promising young talent on defense and an offense that could become exceptionally productive and explosive if players can master all of the pre-snap motion without drawing flags. However, the Tigers are unlikely to move up in the AP Top 25 Poll because every team ahead of them won exception Florida State, which won't likely fall too far from third after losing to top-ranked Alabama.
Several projected regulars apparently were benched. Orgeron said he prefers to keep those matters "in-house," but said he expects a number of guys to return next week. Those not dressed included middle linebacker Michael Divinity, defensive tackle Frank Herron, cornerback Kevin Tolliver, linebacker Donnie Alexander and Bry'Keithon Mouton.
BYU senior defensive back Micah Hannemann was ejected in the third quarter for targeting after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Guice. The ruling means Hannemann must miss the first half of the Cougars' next game.
BYU: Returns home to play in-state rival Utah.
LSU: Plays its home opener against Chattanooga of the FCS.
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