BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There were some occurrences in the blowout triumph that LSU fans haven’t seen in a while.
Not since the end of Joe Burrow’s career had the Tigers put up 50-plus points on the scoreboard. Trey Palmer’s kickoff return for a touchdown was something that hadn’t been seen in nearly 40 years. Not since Eric Martin in 1981 against Kentucky had an LSU player to a kickoff to the house in Tiger Stadium. After initially bobbling the ball, the Kentwood, La. native turned on the burners and sprinted to a 93-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put the Tigers up 38-17.
LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and his staff did such a great job to get true freshman quarterback TJ Finley of Ponchatoula, La. comfortable in Tiger Stadium against the South Carolina Gamecocks. LSU established the rushing attack with John Emery Jr. and Tyrion Davis-Price. Then, Finley went to work picking apart the South Carolina defense with the short passing attack.
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He finished the opening drive with a one-yard touchdown run, which opened things up for him to throw the ball deeper down the field. On the night, Finley was a surgical 17-of-21 for 265 yards and two touchdowns. LSU rolled to a 52-24 win and evened its record at 2-2.
“TJ showed us a lot of confidence throughout camp," said head coach Ed Orgeron. "He lost some weight. I thought he did a tremendous job of leading the team today and you see how he has a tremendous arm, scrambled around, and made some plays on the run and he made some good decisions. He threw the interception but we were going to be patient. I thought he did a tremendous job.”
“I just focused on preparing every week like I was going to be the starter, competing with Myles [Brennan] in practice to make him better; he made me better," added Finley. "Like I said, every quarterback in the quarterback room has the ability to go in the game and win the game. So, it was just me thinking about us as a group supporting each other. When Max [Johnson] went in the game, I was on the sideline just as hyped as everybody else, as he was when I went in, so it was a group effort.”
The LSU defense did some exciting things Saturday night. Tiger defenders sacked the quarterback five times, with three of those by young talent BJ Ojulari. LSU also had a pick-six. Elias Ricks had a ball thrown straight to him and he sprinted into the end zone for a 31-10 lead for the Tigers at halftime. It was his third interception this season. However, South Carolina still made plenty of big plays.
“Me and JaCoby [Stevens] and Damone [Clark] just decided that, ‘Hey, we’ve been playing really bad these past couple of games’ and we just needed to show everybody that Coach Pelini, his scheme and everything he’s been doing for us, it’s really something that fits our style," noted linebacker Jabril Cox. "So, just coming out with a ‘W’ and holding them to the amount of points we did, even though we gave them a few at the end, it really showed how we can be as a whole defense.”
Cox and Stevens each had seven tackles against South Carolina. Stevens had a half-sack and a tackle for loss. Cox had a half-tackle for loss. South Carolina quarterback Collin Hill was 12-of-22 for 234 yards and one touchdown. The Gamecocks picked up 188 yards on the ground.
Next up for LSU is a trip to “The Plains” to take on the Auburn Tigers, an open date, and then back in Tiger Stadium on November 14 to host the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The game will be shown on WAFB.
Auburn opened as a two-point favorite at home against LSU.
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