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September 8, 2012

Methodical rout

Normally there are going to be some big plays in a game which turns into a mismatch.

But, such a scenario didn't occur in LSU's 41-3 victory against Washington on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium.

Only Alfred Blue had a run of longer than ten yards. Zach Metteberger completed just one pass of more than 25 yards. The longest play of the night for LSU was a punt from Brad Wing.

The Tigers simply grinded out a 38-point rout as they beat the Huskies into submission.

"This was really a get-down-to-business type of game," said wide receiver Odell Beckham, who had a couple of dropped passes and a fumble on the opening kickoff. "Coach (Les Miles) preached this week about being dominant and that's what we did."

The statistics were quite lopsided in LSU's favor. The Tigers gained 437 yards, including 242 on the ground. Washington was held to 183 yards, including only 26 on the ground.

Even though LSU only had a 20-3 lead at halftime, the outcome had been determined. The Tigers had to settle for two Drew Alleman field goals after reaching the red zone. As a result, Washington was behind by just 17 points instead of 25 at intermission.

Blue delivered his second straight 100-yard game. Blue, who ran 21 yards for LSU's first touchdown, was the lone back to average at least five yards per carry.

"I tried to run with vengeance tonight," Blue said. "I wanted to pound the ball in there and take it to the defense. We just wanted to show everybody in the world that we could be a dominant team."

One back who ran with a nasty attitude Saturday night was Spencer Ware. After not playing against North Texas last week, Ware had eight carries for 38 yards against Washington. Moreover, Ware attempted to run over a Huskies defender on each of his eight carries.

Michael Ford and Kenny Hilliard accounted for 48 and 46 rushing yards, respectively. Ford had a nice 11-yard gain on an option pitch. Hilliard pounded for his 46 yards on 13 carries. Hilliard capped two long second-half drives with short touchdown runs of three and one yards.

Mettenberger failed to pass for 200 yards for the second straight week, but he seemed more at ease in the pocket against Washington. He completed 12 of 18 passes for 195 and one touchdown - a 32-yarder to Kadron Boone. Mettenberger wasn't sacked and he had to scramble just one time to avoid pressure.

"I think I got hit one time on the roughing the quarterback penalty," Mettenberger said. "My jersey was relatively clean. The offensive line was great today. That was huge, huge. The offensive line was a lot better than last week."

The offensive line had a new look Saturday with Josh Dworaczyk replacing Chris Faulk, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during practice this week. Dworaczyk, who missed last season with a knee injury, made his first career start at tackle. He had been a starter at left guard in 2009-10.

"Mentally, this was something I was prepared for," Dworaczyk said. "Coach Miles and (offensive line) coach (Greg) Studrawa have confidence in me to start. At the start of the year, we had six guys who can start and we only need five starters. The sixth guy plays a big role on the team.

"I had a sense of urgency to play for Faulk. There was not any nervousness. It was just me wanting to be successful on the left side. I was filling some big shoes over there. Chris Faulk probably played the best of any of us last week."

The one offensive position group which struggled Saturday was the wide receivers. Just about every receiver who had a pass thrown to him had a drop. Mettenberger could have easily had just one incompletion for the game.

"Zach threw the ball so phenomenal," Beckham said. "He pretty much put it where it was supposed to be. All of the drops were so uncharacteristic of all the receivers and not just myself.

"The drops are something we have to put behind us. A night like that is good. I'm not happy that I had (drops), but I can learn from this game. We have to move on and improve."

James Wright was definitely the top receiver for the Tigers as he made a career-high five receptions for 75 yards. Beckham, who had two catches, was the only other receiver with more than one reception. Ware lost a touchdown pass when Jarvis Landry failed to hold on to a ball.

"Offensively, we are showing more balance," Miles said. "We rushed for 242 and threw for 195. If you take the number of drops out of the equation and you look at the quarterback play, he was on the money. We would have been well over 200 yards passing, which is kind of a landmark for us.

"We ran the football when we needed to and threw it when we needed to. I think we handled the challenge of the Huskies defense. Their (defensive) coordinator (Justin Wilcox) shows up from Tennessee and we did not get a great view of what to expect. It was a nice outing offensively."

Washington actually had a 3-0 lead when Beckham fumbled the opening kickoff. The Huskies took possession at LSU's 20. However, three pass plays netted only four yards. So, Washington had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Travis Coons.

A 62-yard punt by Wing turned around field position one possession later. Blue's 21-yard touchdown run then gave the Tigers the lead with less than four minutes elapsed in the first quarter. The Huskies finished the opening half with five first downs and 70 yards of offense.

"Our football team played better," Miles said. "The challenge for our team was to play dominant football in all phases. That's how we're going to be judged. That was a good Huskies team. We took strides in being the team we need to be. If we improve, we have the potential to be a dominant team."



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