BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Nearly a third of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s yards passing came on a heave up for grabs as time expired in the first half.
Tigers receiver Stephen Sullivan rose up and snagged it over a crowd of players and held on to the 40-yard touchdown catch as his helmet popped off.
That play was indicative of how No. 11 LSU beat Southeastern Louisiana by a convincing 31-0 score on Saturday night. The result had considerably more to do with the Tigers’ advantages in athleticism than their wildly inconsistent execution.
The Tigers managed only one first down during their first three possessions of the second half. That kind of form could bode ill as LSU (2-0) heads into Southeastern Conference play next week against an Auburn team that was ranked seventh going into its 63-9 rout of Alabama State.
“I thought we would play a lot better offensively,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “I thought the game would be a lot cleaner. Obviously, it wasn’t. We have to go back, look at film and get better. It was a flat night; we could never get a spark offensively.”
Burrow finished 10-of-20 passing for 151 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 1-yard TD and LSU’s opportunistic defense did the rest with five sacks and three takeaways.
“We wanted a shutout – stay on your opponents’ necks and not give them anything,” LSU defensive lineman Andre Anthony said.
Southeastern (0-2), which plays in the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision, had the ball for 21:05 during second half, but turned it over twice deep in LSU territory.
“We really didn’t do anything well, except we competed,” Southeastern coach Frank Scelfo said. LSU is “a good football team, so they caused some of that stuff.”
LSU cornerback Andraez “Greedy” Williams ended one LSU threat with an interception. Another Lions drive ended on a bad shotgun snap over the head of reserve quarterback Lorenzo Nunez. Safety JaCoby Stevens scooped it up and ran 64 yards to set up LSU’s final TD on Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 7-yard run.
Running back Nick Brossette was LSU’s most productive player on offense, rushing for a career-high 137 yards on 19 carries, including a 42-yard scamper.
Burrow’s first TD pass went to Ja’Marr Chase, who accounted for most of the 9-yard score with a short sprint along the sideline and a dive past tacklers near the goal line.
“In the first quarter, we played really well. We came out attacking and had the right mindset,” Burrow said. “After that, our mindset kind of let off the gas a little bit. We can’t do that in big games. We know that. We are going to have to get a lot of things addressed this week.”
LSU kicker Cole Tracy, a transfer from Division II Assumption College, booted a 50-yard field goal early in the second quarter. It’s his second field goal of 50 or more yards in two games after he tied the school record with a 54-yarder against Miami. Before this season, LSU had converted only one field goal as long as 50 yards since 2011.
Left tackle Saahdiq Charles and defensive end Michael Divinity were not in uniform. Orgeron referred to their absences as an “in-house” matter. He did not provide further details other than to say he expected both to play at Auburn.
Meanwhile, edge pass rusher Ray Thornton started for K’Lavon Chaisson, who was lost for the season a week earlier to a knee injury.
LSU starting linebacker Jacob Phillips was ejected late in the second quarter for targeting against QB Chason Vigil after a throw.
Despite taking big hits on scrambles, Burrow dismissed the idea of sliding to avoid contact – something Orgeron wants his QB to consider.
“Nah, I’m not going to slide. I’m not a slider,” Burrow said. “I told (offensive coordinator Steve) Ensminger and all my teammates that I’m not a slider and I don’t think that they believed me. I don’t think quarterbacks should really slide.”
After shooting from 25th to 11th following a dominant season-opening victory over Miami, LSU isn’t likely to move up or down much this week.
Southeastern Louisiana: The Lions finished with 189 yards passing, all by Vigil. Southeastern also converted five of six fourth down plays in a feisty performance. Both SLU losses have come on the road against FBS teams – the first by just three points at Louisiana-Monroe. So, Southeastern could be competitive in FCS play.
LSU: The Tigers had their share of individual bright spots, but better hope one week of practice is enough to address their inadequacies vs. the Lions.
Southeastern Louisiana: Home opener vs. Central Arkansas next Saturday.
LSU: At Auburn next Saturday.