BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Coach Les Miles was satisfied with how ninth-ranked LSU played in its season opener.
Now LSU has a couple of weeks to take care of the miscues in its 37-27 victory against then-No. 20 TCU in Arlington, Texas. It was the third time in four years the Tigers kicked off the season against a ranked team at a neutral site.
LSU began the 2010 season with a 30-24 victory against No. 18 North Carolina at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The following year, the Tigers beat No. 3 Oregon 40-27 — also in Arlington.
"We certainly played well in the opener," Miles said Tuesday. "The offense showed balance and the ability to throw it. We threw for 250 (251) and rushed for 200 (197). That's what we needed to see. Defensively, it looked like the same style we've had for years.
"If we improve our tackling, minimize some of the penalties and don't turn the ball over, it could have been a much different game. That's our push. The need to improve is the key to this football team. It really is the key to any team that's ambitious about its future."
LSU rolled up nearly 450 yards in its first game with Cam Cameron as its offensive coordinator. Zach Mettenberger completed 16 of 32 passes for 251 yards and one touchdown. Both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry had more than 100 receiving yards.
Cameron "certainly enjoyed the experience of taking the field with the Tigers," Miles said. "When you are a quarterback throwing the ball and you are 13 of 19 on third downs, it lets you know the quarterback understands the calls and makes the plays. Obviously, the receivers were getting open."
Running back Jeremy Hill, who was suspended from the team for more than three months before being reinstated on the first day of August practice, did not play against TCU. Terrence Magee and Alfred Blue combined for 184 yards on the ground. Miles refused to say if Hill will play this week against UAB.
"Whether Jeremy Hill figures in the game plan this week depends upon how the week unfolds," Miles said. "We look forward to playing him just as soon as we think he's ready."
On defense, the Tigers returned just three full-time starters. However, the new-look defense held the Horned Frogs offense to two touchdowns and two field goals. One of the touchdowns followed a TCU fumble recovery at LSU's 6.
"That defense looked awfully physical to me," Miles said. "They were very fast to the ball. It looked like that defensive front will be very much what we're used to at LSU. We had a couple of missed tackles. But, all in all, as an opener, I thought the defense played well."
Three LSU mistakes actually led to all three of the Horned Frogs' touchdowns. A breakdown in coverage led to a 100-yard kickoff return by B.J. Catalon. A roughing the passer penalty against tackle Ego Ferguson kept alive a drive which resulted in a touchdown. Then, Blue's fumble set up a touchdown.
"The kickoff return is something our guys know better," Miles said. "We have corrected that very quickly. The roughing the passer extended a drive that cost us seven points. Then, there's the fumble coming out of our own end zone.
"Those are three things you just can't have. If you make that point and this team listens, which they will, that's 21 points and a very significant difference in that game."