BATON ROUGE -- In its final pre-conference tune-up, No. 8 LSU had its biggest offensive output since 2007 on the way to a 45-13 victory over Kent State on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
Led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger's 264 yards passing and 100-yard rushers Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee, LSU totaled 571 yards of total offense to move the ball at will against Kent State (1-2). The Tigers' 10.4 yards per play was second best in school history.
LSU (3-0) begins Southeastern Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 6:45 p.m. CT when Auburn (3-0, 1-0 SEC) comes to Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised live by ESPN and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network starting with a 4:45 p.m. pregame show.
By adding three touchdowns this evening, Mettenberger set a school record with nine TD's in the first three games to start a season. He was 13-of-18 passing with a long of 52 yards.
Hill ran 11 times for 119 yards and touchdown runs of 58 and 12 yards. All nine of Magee's carries came in the second half, as he rolled for 108 yards and a touchdown. Alfred Blue added 56 rushing yards, also all in the second half.
Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry continued to find holes in the secondary. Beckham Jr. had five catches for 76 yards with a 5-yard touchdown grab, while Landry had four catches for 66 yards and two scores.
Kent State was led by quarterback Colin Reardon who completed 20 of 29 passes for 190 yards. He scored the Golden Flashes lone touchdown with a 2-yard scamper in the second quarter. Traylon Durham led Kent State on the ground with 36 net yards on 18 carries.
The Golden Flashes were limited to 58 yards rushing and were outgained 571-248. It was LSU’s best offensive night since gaining 595 yards against Louisiana Tech on Nov. 10, 2007.
Two mistakes in the opening half cost the Tigers 10 points. On third-and-5 from the Kent State 30, a blown coverage led to a 25-yard reception into LSU territory on the final play of the first quarter. Six plays later, the Golden Flashes scored a 2-yard touchdown that cut LSU's lead to 21-7.
Late in the half, LSU head coach Les Miles called timeout prior to a Kent State punt to give his offense another shot before the half. However, Travin Dural muffed the punt at the LSU 22. Kent State recovered at the 20, but the Tigers defense came up with a stop to hold the Golden Flashes to a 37-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the half.
Otherwise, LSU dominated every aspect of the first 30 minutes.
The Tigers scored on all five possessions of the opening half, scoring four touchdowns and coming up two yards short of another.
Kent State won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half. LSU took the opening kickoff and used a 17-yard pass from Mettenberger to Beckham Jr. to pick up a first down on third-and-5. Two plays later, Hill's 58-yard burst for a touchdown put LSU ahead 7-0 with 12:19 left in the first quarter.
After a Kent State punt, Mettenberger connected with Dural for a 36-yard catch to the Golden Flashes 23. Hill gained another first down, but a holding penalty backed LSU to the 21. After two incomplete passes, Mettenberger lobbed a pass in Landry's directions and the receiver pulled the ball down between two defenders for a touchdown.
LSU led 14-0 with 8:16 on the first-quarter clock.
Kent State was backed up to its 4-yard line after a 15-yard sack by Ego Ferguson, and the Golden Flashes managed only 34 yards on the punt.
Starting at the Kent State 37, the Tigers took advantage of a pass interference penalty to gain a first down at the 17. Hill scored for the second time from 12 yards for a 21-0 lead with 2:36 left in the quarter.
Kent State answered with a 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Reardon's 2-yard keeper around the right side.
A career-best, 52-yard catch and run by 239-pound fullback Connor Neighbors and a 12-yard reception by Beckham Jr. put LSU in position for another trip to the endzone. However, three runs by Kenny Hilliard came up a yard short of the first down and the Tigers were whistled for false start on a fourth-down run. Colby Delahoussaye tacked on a 25-yard field goal to put LSU ahead 24-7 with 10:03 left in the half.
LSU's fifth score in as many drives included a 22-yard catch by Beckham Jr., a 15-yarder by Landry, an 18-yard run by Hill and another 20-yard reception by Beckham Jr. to the Kent State 16. Though Hill's third touchdown was called back by a chop block, Landry found the endzone with a 31-yard catch and run. The 93-yard drive - LSU's longest since 2011 at Tennessee - gave LSU a 31-7 lead.
The muffed punt by Dural led a Kent State field goal just before the half. With a 359-105 advantage in total offense, LSU led 31-10 at the break.
Kent State scored the only points of the third quarter with a 38-yard field goal that cut LSU's lead to 31-13 with 3:16 remaining.
Though it couldn't get into gear offensively in the third quarter, LSU added a 5-yard touchdown reception by Beckham Jr. and a 12-yard rushing score by Magee in the final 15 minutes. A drive led by true freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings ended at the Kent State 16 when the clock expired.
Attendance for the game was 89,113.
LSU vs. Kent State
September 14, 2013
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES QUOTES
Opening Statement …
“First of all I would like to congratulate the Kent State team. I felt like they had the personnel of a team that had a great team last year. I like their tailback (Trayion Durham) and their quarterback (Colin Reardon). They are very competitive. I like their kicking game. We did what we were supposed to do. We rushed for 300 yards. We threw for 270 on offense with 55 snaps. We gave up 248 yards on defense and played pretty well at times. The things we have to correct certainly are the missed tackles we had in that contest. We had 11 penalties for 86 yards, and we can’t fumble a punt. The good news is the guy that fumbled that punt came right back in and put a fair catch up and made a difficult catch. I think that is what we needed to do. Zach (Mettenberger) is off to a really good start at 13-for-18. He has thrown nine touchdown passes in the last three games which is a school record. We had two 100-yard backs. (Jeremy) Hill and (Terrence) Magee both went over 100 yards, so there were some good things. Again, we have to eliminate some of the mistakes but all in all a nice outing. I understand the Auburn team won so we are looking forward to facing a quality SEC opponent in our stadium next week.”
On running back Jeremy Hill’s performance …
“To be honest with you there were several cuts that (Hill) missed, and there were some landmarks that we didn’t enjoy. He is not quite there it appeared to me. I am not saying he is not giving us great effort. That is not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is he’s not quite there yet, but he is coming. His shape is better. It is an interesting thing. You cannot buy snaps. Snaps are a great teacher. He just hasn’t had many.”
On the defensive personnel …
“We are going to use a lot of guys on defense. It is a very young group and a group that needs some reps. The linebackers rotated very quickly. We will look at that and evaluate that group. The good news is we are rotating some talented guys. We are just going to play the guys that are the best.”
On the team’s play thus far into the season …
“I think we are on pace. We are minus a couple SEC games of where we need to be. I think it will be a great test next week.”
On wide receiver Odell Beckham’s injury …
“Odell (Beckham Jr.) is a tough kid. He wants to play. He wants snaps and doesn’t want to have a game go by that he doesn’t touch the ball and is not counted on to make big plays. That being said we put some tape on it and let some other guys field punts.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DT Ego Ferguson
On how he feels about the defensive front…
“We got a lot of stuff to work on, but I feel like we are improving each and every game, getting ready for SEC play.”
On what improvements he wants to see…
“We just better work on communication and staying low, hitting our pressure points. That’s what coach preaches every day. The effort is there, and it is just something we need to work on.”
On having Anthony Johnson beside him…
“There’s a lot of help. He is one of the best DT’s in the country right now, and just with him taking a lot of attention soon enough people aren’t going to know who to choose when they need help.”
CB Jalen Mills
On the performance of the younger players…
“Coach does a great job with them. Every play and practice starting from Monday until Friday, we always have our safeties saying the down, and he picks a safety every day to say the down and distance to make all the picks. I think that’s a great job by coach having those guys communicate to us, the D-line and the linebackers.”
On how he views depth in the freshmen class…
“I think it’s excellent. Young guys have to be ready to play big roles, just as I did last year, so I think it’s good coach is putting those young guys in so they can be ready for when SEC comes along.”
On what he thinks the defense can improve on…
“Focus on what we have to do. Sometimes we may get relaxed, and that’s when the offence may be running tempo. We really have to focus now and play defense all four quarters like we should.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On Jeremy Hill’s performance against Kent State…
“I think he showed that he is doing pretty well. He picked up right where he left off. It was his first full game back. He hit the ground running, and I’m excited to see what he will do in the future. We have a stable of running backs at LSU. We always have a great running game. The offensive line made a lot of holes out there for those guys and gave me good protection.”
On the early start against Kent State…
“The early starts have been great. We just have to keep plowing away and stay consistent. We need to continue scoring every drive. There are moments when we get down and become lackadaisical. We are going to get that right this week.”
On next week’s first conference game against Auburn…
“It is another game and another step to where we want to be ultimately. We are going to start tomorrow preparing for Auburn.”
On playing with more confidence…
“It is about confidence. On our offense we are distributing the ball to play makers. There is a lot of chemistry on the offense, and we are clicking on all cylinders. Each and every day we are going to improve.”
On Terrence Magee’s performance against Kent State…
“His performance didn’t surprise me. I told a few people that I just love Terrence Magee. My freshman year I saw him run against Ole Miss, and he is just a tenacious and vicious runner. He is going to be a great running back with Jeremy Hill. We have seen the things he can do. He is only going to improve as well.”
RB Jeremy Hill
On starting the game against Kent State…
“I think it was a good weight lifted off my shoulders. I got to get my first start. After that it was just me getting back into the rhythm of things. They put me out there earlier tonight to knock the dust off and get the game speed back. I think next week we will do the same thing and rotate the running backs.”
KENT STATE HEAD COACH PAUL HAYNES QUOTES
“Make no mistake, it is a loss. LSU’s a very good football team. I give them a lot of credit. They had a good game plan, and it was very well coached. Our guys fought. We talked about it at halftime, after (LSU) scored 31 points, and it was 31-10. We said we were going to keep grinding and keep on fighting, and there are a lot of things that we can continue to get better at during the second half. We saw that. Each week, we have to continue to get better, and it’s not getting any easier. We have to go on the road again against another good football team. We have to stick together, we have to make sure that we continue to get better and we will. Our guys are still hungry, and every goal that we wanted to accomplish we still can.”
On QB Colin Reardon …
“I still think he’s continued to get better each week. Plus, our offensive line is getting better also. I think we’re starting to gel as a group up there on the front. We’re protecting him a lot better. He’s continued to get better, and we will get better as a group. We’ll get back. We’ll lick our wounds on this plane ride back, and we’ll get ready for Penn State tomorrow.”
On making improvements …
“When you come into an atmosphere like this – and this is by far to me one of the Top 5 programs in the country – you go out there and you battle, and our guys did. They fought like crazy, and we will learn from this game. There will not be another setting like this that we will have to sit there and go into. We’re ready for it. Next week will be a hostile environment, but we’ve been on the road with a hostile environment like this one. We’ll be a little bit more prepared for it. I love this locker room, and I love this team. We will continue to fight and get better, and I’m excited for the future.”
KENT STATE OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
OL Phil Huff
On the first half …
“We studied and we were ready for some blitzes. LSU brought some we studied, and I think that they brought a couple of new ones. They did not show some we thought that they were going to. There were just a lot of mistakes, a lot of mental mistakes. We cannot have all of the penalties; they just killed drives that we had going.”
On the second half of the game …
“We cut down on some of the mistakes that we had. Once we started moving I think we picked up some steam pretty well. We were able to throw a little tonight, and that was successful too. Once we get going I think we will be pretty tough to stop.”
On success running the ball …
“I think it was just matching up, getting body on body. With Treyion [Durham], if you just get a path halfway opened up he can usually get through some tackles and sneak through some gaps.”
KENT STATE DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
S Jordan Italiano
On the team’s performance on defense …
“We knew what LSU was going to run. They were obviously not trying to hide anything. We just did not do a good job executing.”
On what can be improved …
“Fundamentals can be improved. Tackling, we gave up big plays, and so on. We need to improve on that. We just need to come back and keep on fighting. We need to do a better job in the next game.”