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LSU Stomps South Carolina 52-24 Headlined by Breakout Performance from Freshman TJ Finley

Finley tosses for 265 yards, three touchdowns in LSU win

Nobody knew what to expect this weekend out of LSU. After two weeks of talk and preparation from coach Ed Orgeron and the players, LSU got the chance to show it on Saturday. 

The Tigers stomped on South Carolina early and rode an impressive, breakout performance from freshman quarterback TJ Finley to a critical 52-24 win over South Carolina. 

Heading into the matchup, there were a few areas LSU hoped to show improvement in on both offense and defense. On offense, it was being more consistent on third down and in the redzone. Defensively, it was eliminating the explosive plays with better communication and assignments. 

It was going to be tough to grade how the offense attacked its shortcomings with true freshman Finley at quarterback but it became apparent quickly that wasn't going to be a problem. When the LSU student section is chanting your name in the fourth quarter, you know you've had a pretty good evening. 

Finley threw for 265 yards while completing 81% of his passes and three total touchdowns. The freshman looked poised and showed off his cannon of an arm on more than one occasion. He also proved to be a little more mobile than even coach Ed Orgeron seemed to let on.  

Finley's night was only heightened by LSU establishing the run. After running for just 49 yards against Missouri, the Tigers eclipsed the 50-yard mark after practically the first drive of the game. Sophomore John Emery ran for a game high 88 yards and a touchdown, 76 of which came in the first half when LSU did most of its damage. Tyrion Davis-Price took over the second half, rushing for 135 yards total with a touchdown.

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LSU also went 7-of-9 on third downs and went a perfect 5-for-5 when getting into the redzone. 

On defense, the Tigers showed some strides, with the lone exceptions being the Gamecocks opening possessions in each half. South Carolina went 75 yards and 74 yards respectively, gashing the Tigers on the run on each drive. 

Outside of those two drives, the busted plays were improved throughout the rest of the game as LSU allowed just 113 yards of offense after that initial 75-yard drive. The positive was that LSU was able to respond to both scores with points, a field goal in the first half and a Trey Palmer kickoff return in the second half.

Palmer's third quarter kickoff return was the first in Death Valley since 1981. 

The defensive line went much bigger with Joseph Evans, Glen Logan and Siaki Ika implemented in an attempt to slow the run game. LSU applied pressure to quarterback Collin Hill, sacking him five times and applying great pressure throughout the night. Freshman BJ Ojulari had three sacks alone and now has a team high four this season. 

Big plays were still racked up as Hill only completed 12 passes on the day but for an average of 19.5 yards per completion. In fact the Gamecocks as a team averaged 7.9 yards per play and did finish with 403 yards total. While the Gamecocks were able to get in scoring position on nearly every possession, LSU allowed all but two to be turned into touchdowns. 

Up next, the Tigers will prepare for a road outing against Auburn, who South Carolina upset last weekend.