ORLANDO, Fla. – Sophomore running back Derrius Guice did an excellent job of stepping in for Leonard Fournette.
Guice ran for 138 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, and caught a scoring pass to help No. 19 LSU Tigers to a 29-9 victory over No. 15 Louisville in Saturday’s Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
Guice, who had to fill the shoes of Fournette who decided to skip the bowl game to concentrate on the NFL draft, consistently made explosive plays running the ball, as a receiver and a kickoff return man for the Tigers (8-4).
“LSU is Army U so when one man goes down you’ve got to step up,” said Guice, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry. “I feel like I’ve done a great job of stepping up this year. The line did a great job of helping me step up and (running backs coach Jabbar Juluke) has developed me all year.”
His performance was eclipsed only by the overpowering performance of the Tigers defense that completely shut down Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals. The Cardinals did not score a touchdown.
“I’m awfully excited about our football team, the way they bought into one team, one heartbeat,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who was officially at the helm for the first time since being hired as Les Miles’ replacement. “We’re like that right now and I’m so proud of them.”
Jackson was sacked eight times, including a safety for an 8-yard loss late in the second quarter. Jackson completed just 10 of 27 passes for 153 yards while leading the rushing attack with 33 yards as the Cardinals (9-4) ended their season with three straight losses.
“They’re very good up front and we knew that coming in,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “We did make some assignment errors where we turned a couple of guys completely loose a few times and then there were a few times that they beat us on the pass rush and then there a couple of times where we needed to get the ball out of our hand and get open quicker, so it all plays together.”
LSU quarterback Danny Etling threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers moved the ball with balance all game. Malachi Dupre led LSU in receiving with seven catches for 139 yards.
LSU: There was a thought that the Tigers offense could be slowed with the loss of Fournette, but Guice gave a convincing performance to show the offense didn’t miss a beat with him running the ball. The Tigers defensive front was too fast and too dominant for Jackson and the Cardinals offense. Louisville was 0 for 13 on third-down conversions well into the fourth quarter before converting its first.
LOUISVILLE: Clearly the Cardinals’ offense had not seen the type of speed on defense in the ACC they encountered against the SEC’s LSU. The Tigers got to Jackson early and often from their base defense and with a variety of blitzes. Defensively, the Cardinals struggled without starting secondary members Josh Harvey-Clemons (safety) and Trumaine Washington (cornerback) along with sack leader James Hearns (linebacker) all missing due to injuries.
LSU: The Tigers looked overpowering on both sides of the football and will certainly see their stock sore from No. 19 in the AP poll after a convincing win over Louisville.
LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals suffered their third straight loss to conclude the season, which certainly makes it appear their No. 15 ranking was inflated. Louisville may remain in the Top 25 but it will be just barely.
LSU: Now that the bowl season is over, the Ed Orgeron era begins in earnest. Matt Canada has been hired as the new offensive coordinator and can begin to install his system. His biggest decision will be at quarterback where Etling is returning with experience but the Tigers have two recruits coming in in pro-style quarterback Myles Brennan and dual-threat quarterback Lowell Narcisse.
LOUISVILLE: Led by the tremendous talent of Jackson, the Cardinals could contend for the ACC title and College Football Playoffs next season. But Petrino will definitely have more playmakers to help Jackson. The offensive line also has to get better in its protection of Jackson. The Cardinals lose a couple of talented seniors off the defense but the core returns, giving Petrino a chance to have his best team since returning.
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