It was the kind of performance LSU needed coming off a week one loss as the Tigers controlled from start to finish, knocking off Vanderbilt 41-7 for its first win of the 2020 season.
No. 20 LSU (1-1) showed improvement on many of the areas that plagued the team on offense and the pass defense was much better, though a new issue cropped up in the run defense on Saturday.
One of the keys to the game offensively was getting the run game going and the Tigers received some stellar performances from John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price. Emery was the star for the Tigers on the ground as the sophomore running back rushed for a career-high 103 yards and a touchdown. His previous career-high was 51 yards, set against the Commodores last season in a 66-38 win for the purple and gold.
Emery saw the holes, attacked and made Vanderbilt defenders look silly at times en route to his career day performance.
The success of the run game complimented Myles Brennan and the passing game extremely well. After an inconsistent week one outing, the protection was much better for Brennan, who also showed improved poise in the pocket. Brennan threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Commodores.
He completed passes to nine different receivers throughout the evening, including a two touchdown performance from senior Jontre Kirklin.
It was the kind of confidence boost the offense needed, with really the only mistake coming in the first half on an errant throw that the junior quarterback just simply missed, leading to an interception.
He was poised, hitting No. 1 receiver Terrace Marshall two times for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through two games, the passing duo have showed phenomenal chemistry that will be key as the season progresses.
The defense on the other hand, continues to be a work in progress. While the secondary made great strides, particularly with the return of Derek Stingley Jr., the run defense proved to be the problem against the Commodores.
Running the ball was the offensive identity for the Commodores, much like the passing attack was the identity for Mississippi State. Through two games, the LSU defense hasn't been able to stymie the opponent's strength as Vanderbilt ran for 153 yards against the Tigers' defense. Of the 153 rushing yards, 107 of them came in the first half so an improvement was made in the second half.
While the Commodores were able to move the ball up the field on LSU, the Tigers' defense stepped up when the ball got into the redzone. Facing a first-and-goal before the half, the LSU defense rose up to the challenge, forcing a missed field goal.
It was smooth sailing from there as LSU tacked on 13 points in the third quarter to take a commanding 34-7 lead behind a flea flicker from Brennan to Kirklin.
It's those kinds of plays that help build confidence, something the team attained in bunches in the win. The Tigers will be looking to keep the momentum going with a home outing against Missouri next weekend at 8 p.m. in Death Valley.