LSU wins 34-13; offense revived after QB change
BATON ROUGE - With Brandon Harris benched, backup quarterback Danny Etling quickly revived the LSU offense to give LSU the lead against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
Replacing struggling starter Brandon Harris on LSU's third possession, Etling opened with three straight scoring drives, and the Tigers pulled away for a 34-13 victory over Jacksonville State on Saturday night.
Etling, a transfer from Purdue, completed six of his first eight passes for 100 yards, including a 46-yard scoring strike to tight end DeSean Smith to cap the quarterback's first drive. Etling also had a 2 yard TD run.
His performance could make him LSU's starter when the Tigers (1-1) open their Southeastern Conference slate at home against Mississippi State next Saturday. LSU coach Les Miles might not have much choice, considering how anemic LSU's offense looks with Harris under center, not just against JSU, but also in a 16-14 upset against fifth-ranked Wisconsin a week earlier.
LSU opened the game with 12 total yards and no first downs on its first two offensive series before Miles made the QB change.The Tigers would be in the in zone six plays later, going 70 yards including five plays through the air. The extra point was blocked.
The Tiger Stadium crowd came alive with Etling took the field for the first time. It was a full-on eruption when Etling's long scoring pass hit Smith in stride down the left sideline, giving LSU a 6-3 lead.
Etling's performance was not entirely unblemished. All six of his second-half passes were incomplete. He was intercepted by Reggie Hall on a long pass intended for Malachi Dupre in the end zone and later lost a fumble when he was sacked and stripped by Darius Jackson.
LSU running back and Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette was ruled out for Saturday's game, getting the night off to rest his left ankle. Fournette was in sweatpants as the Tigers returned to the field following an hour long lightning delay before kickoff. Miles has said Fournette is not seriously injured.
Derrius Guice started for Fournette and rushed for 155 yards rushing, including a 4-yard TD and a 44-yard run to set up another LSU score.
A 2-yard touchdown run by Bry'Kiethon Mouton capped Etling's third series. Tre-Davious the closed LSU's' 27-point second quarter with a 60-yard punt return on which he retreated 20 yards to his own 20 before finding his way back up field for the score.
LSU Athletics reports that 98,389 fans attended the home opener at Tiger Stadium. During halftime, the LSU Golden Band from Tigerland paid tribute to victims of August's historic flooding. The band stood in multiple formations, including spelling out Louisiana, surrounding "BR" in a heart, and taking the shape of the state. More than 60,000 homes were damaged in last month's historic flooding and 13 people were killed.
Saturday's offensive revival comes after an embarassing season opener against Wisconsin in Lambeau Field in Green Bay last Saturday. LSU hasn't started 0-1 since 2002 when they lost to #16 Virginia Tech 26-8. The loss last week snapped a 52-game winning streak in non-conference regular season games.
LSU: Barring an injury to Etling, Harris' next snaps might come in mop-up duty. His numbers through his first two starts this season are 13 of 25 (52 percent) for 139 yards, one TD and two interceptions. He completed one of four passes for 8 yards against JSU.
LSU: The Tigers open SEC play at home against Mississippi State on Sept. 17.