BATON ROUGE – The "O" in Coach O is Obviously for Offense and EmOtion.
Les Miles and Leonard Fournette were missing, but LSU’s old-fashioned power running game was clearly not in an emotional, 42-7 victory over Missouri Saturday night in which the Tigers set a school record for total yards in a Southeastern Conference game with 634 - 418 rushing and 216 passing - in front of about 95,000 at Tiger Stadium.
New interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who replaced the fired Miles on Sunday, opened the game in the spread with four wide receivers to the delight of the pass-starved LSU fans. But he finished Missouri off with a power running game that likely made LSU’s former coach proud as the Tigers ran for miles. LSU rushed for 418 yards on 52 carries for an average of eight yards a rush. The 634 total yards broke the previous LSU record of 630 set against Mississippi State in 1967 and tied against Ole Miss in 1987.
"The whole week the state of Louisiana was on fire," Orgeron said. "It started on the radio show. It was a tremendous day - a tremendous day for the Tiger family. I told our guys, 'Big plays fuel emotion.'"
And he got that, particularly from sophomore tailback Derrius Guice of Baton Rouge.
Guice replaced Fournette, who dressed out but sat out with an injured ankle aggravated last week, and delivered his own electricity. There was less power but more finesse and hellacious cuts on Guice's way to 166 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns - one from 42 yards out and another from 37 in the first half as LSU took a 21-0 lead to the break.
Darrel Williams spelled Guice nicely by gaining another 130 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns as well. Nick Brossette added 73 yards on five carries with a 60-yard run that set up LSU’s final touchdown on a 9-yard run by Williams with 4:32 left for the 42-7 lead.
"What I liked was we put the pedal to the metal," Orgeron said. "There was no let up by this football team. I didn't want the sideline to let up. We would've scored more if we could've."
Guice wasted no time getting started on LSU’s second possession after quarterback Danny Etling went 1-for-4 on those passes. After gaining 18 yards on four plays, Guice unleashed a 42-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 6:46 to go in the first quarter. Guice started left, then cut hard right and cut that way again to get in the clear. About 15 yards later, he cut more to the right sideline and was gone.
"The whole difference this week was everybody moving around the football faster and just doing everything quicker," Guice said. "The week was fast. Everything is much more up tempo now.
Guice added a 4-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead midway in the second quarter, then took off again for a 37-yard touchdown run for a 21-0 lead with 4:40 to play before halftime. He already had 136 yards on 13 carries in the first half and a 10.5-yard average per carry. Williams added 91 yards on 11 carries in the first half.
It was not all runs, though Etling mixed in 30 passes, mostly of the short play action variety, and completed 19 for 216 yards with no interceptions.
"It's nice when you can spread the ball around and get some pass completions," LSU fullback John David Moore said. "It makes running the ball a little bit easier."
LSU had four touchdown drives of 80 yards or more for the first time in an SEC game since beating Alabama, 35-21, in 2001.
"I think it was kind of making the offense look different," Orgeron said. "Maybe some of the same plays, but from different formations and different personnel groupings. We threw some slants and short passes. Then we ran the ball."
LSU (3-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) did not rest on the 21-0 lead at the half. The Tigers took the third quarter kickoff and went 75 yards in eight plays for a 28-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams with 11:09 to go in the period. Etling completed 3 of 4 passes on the balanced drive as he hit Guice for 21 yards to the Missouri 23 and tight end Colin Jeter for another 18 to the 5-yard line.
The Tigers, who play at Florida (4-1, 2-1 SEC) on Saturday, made it 35-0 with 10 minutes to go in the game on a 2-yard touchdown run by Williams. A 41-yard completion from Etling to wide receiver D.J. Chark set up the score. Chark refused to let go of the ball on the play as he maniacally wrestled it away at the Missouri 32 from cornerback Aarion Penton, who appeared to have the ball at first.
Missouri (2-3, 0-2 SEC) had to resort to razzle dazzle to avert the shutout as wide receiver Eric Laurent threw a reverse pass to quarterback Drew Lock for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 6:11 to go. Lock completed just 17 of 37 passes for 167 yards and was intercepted by cornerback Tre'Davious White. LSU's defense held Missouri to 77 yards on 22 carries.
"They handed it to us in every way," Missouri coach Barry Odom said. "I feel like I got my tail kicked tonight, and we did as a program. Obviously, I didn't do enough this week to get us ready to play a great team like LSU."
Missouri's Coach O didn't know what hit him.
"Coach Orgeron is really getting involved with everybody," Guice said. "He has got everybody flying around the field, even the coaches. He is also himself running up and down the field."
Orgeron ran off the field triumphantly dripping Gatorade after the game with the game ball like something out of "Gladiator."
"It's a tremendous honor to be the coach at LSU," he said. "Obviously, it's an honor. It's something you dream about."