South Carolina returns to Death Valley for the first time since 2015, a game in which the Tigers dominated the Game Cocks 45-24. That game was supposed to be played in Columbia but was moved to Baton Rouge due to flooding, similar to the recent game against Mizzou. But obviously LSU going to play at Mizzou.
South Carolina won the toss and deferred until the second half. The Tigers would start on offense, the perfect set up to see freshman TJ Finley in action.
In his first offensive possession the freshman lead the Tigers on a brilliant 16 play 75 yard drive that ended in Finley calling his own number from the one yard line. Tigers would spend nearly half the first quarter on that drive as well.
The Tigers defensive woes still seem to be plaguing them through the opening possession for the Game Cocks. Three plays and 75 yards later, South Carolina was in the end zone. The Tigers would respond with a 10 play 66 yard drive that ended in a field goal. LSU looked to nurse itself back on defense, forcing a Gamecock three and out. LSU would get the ball at their own 35 after receiving the punt and drive 65 yards capping off the drive with a seven yard touchdown pass to Terrace Marshall Jr.
In the second quarter it looked like the LSU defense was starting to come alive. Back-to-back sacks on South Carolina quarterback Hill by BJ Ojulari and Andre Anthony forced the Gamecocks to settle for a very long field goal of 54 yards. The attempt was just short and the Tigers would take over at their own 37.
Tigers quarterback TJ Finley looked like he was ready to take over where he left off previously, hitting Jaray Jenkins in stride for a pickup of 36. Finley’s next attempt hung a little too long and was picked off at the ten yard line by Israel Mukuamu and returned 56 yards to the LSU 36, TJ Finley made the stop as well.
The Gamecocks would only get seven yards from that turnover and have to settle for another long field goal. This time of 45 yards, and this time it was good.
On their next possession, Finley showed poised in the pocket, scrambling to find a little time and hitting Marshall again this time for a 51 yard touchdown. The Tiger defense would also get into the scoring mix, as freshman Eli Ricks would intercept quarterback Collin Hill and return it 45 yards for the score. This is Ricks’ 3rd interception on the year, through four games. Tying him for first in the SEC and the Nation currently. That touchdown is also enough to move him into the tied for first category as well.
LSU would go into the halftime up by a three touchdown margin, 31-10. The Gamecocks would receive the opening kick-off of the second half. South Carolina running back Kevin Harris gashed the Tigers defense on a 49 yard run off the right side. The Gamecocks would eventually score on a one yard rush by Kevin Harris.
Trey Palmer returned the ensuing kick-off 93 yards for a touchdown. Something that hadn’t been done in Tigers Stadium since 1981 by Eric Martin. The Tigers had just completed the trifecta of scoring. Scoring on offense, defense and now special teams.
Ty Davis-Price and John Emery would each have a rushing touchdown in the game. Emery would have the most impressive touchdown, going over the pile from three yards out, while Davis-Price would have the most complete game. Rushing for 135 yards on 22 carries with a long of 35 yards.
Takeaways from the game:
While TJ Finley looked like the incumbent quarterback, Myles Brennan is the starter. “People are yearning for it” said Orgeron. “It won’t be on our part.” When asked about a quarterback controversy, but rest assured Tiger fans, the future is bright and looks to be in good hands with Finley waiting in the wings.
The pass rush from this 4-3 defense is improving. “We have some outstanding defensive ends” said Orgeron. “We had a great pass rush today. I knew this going into the game, South Carolina’s strength was running the ball and I thought we could rush the passer, and we did. We did an outstanding job of that, but there’s still some things we need to sure up.”
Finley 17-21 265yds 2TDs 1 INT 208.9
Davis-Price 22 Att 135yds 1TD 6.1Avg
Emery 18 Att 88yds 1TD 4.9Avg
Finley 8 Att 24yds 1TD 3Avg