Rapid Reaction: LSU rolls past Lobos. Now focus turns to Jayden Daniels' injury
LSU got a relatively easy 38-0 nonconference win over New Mexico on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
It remains to be seen whether the victory was costly.
Starting quarterback Jayden Daniels left the game for good in the third quarter after landing hard on the ground while being tackled at the end of a 16-yard run on 4th-and-4.
Garrett Nussmeier replaced him and completed his 1st 2 passes before Noah Cain ran 1 yard for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead with 5:25 left in the period.
Cain’s 49-yard touchdown run increased the lead to 31-0 at the end of the third quarter and Nussmeier connected with Brian Thomas Jr. for a 57-yard touchdown and a 38-0 lead.
On the series before Daniels’ injury, Armoni Goodwin, who had touchdown runs of 5 yards and 1 yard as the Tigers (3-1) built a 17-0 halftime lead, was carried off the field after suffering a leg injury, though he was able to walk unaided to the locker room.
John Emery Jr., who hadn’t touched the football before Goodwin’s injury, replaced him but the Tigers’ drive ended with an incomplete pass on 4th-and-6 from the Lobos’ 37.
Wide receiver Malik Nabers also was shaken up during the game.
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Daniels was comfortable and efficient as he completed 24-of-29 passes for 279 yards. He seemed less eager to run than he had been in the first 3 games, carrying 9 times for 37 yards.
The LSU defense was dominant and only a couple of red-zone inefficiencies and 1 kicking blunder prevented the game from being decided earlier than it was.
The Lobos (2-2) were playing their first road game of the season and couldn’t get anything going against the Tigers’ defense.
LSU forced a 3-and-out on the first possession of the game and Daniels went to work.
A mixture of running plays – none of which were by Daniels – and short passes led to Goodwin’s 5-yard touchdown run.
New Mexico gained 1 first down on its 2nd possession before punting again.
Daniels threw a 51-yard completion to Chris Hilton Jr. and the Tigers got as far as the Lobos’ 14 before stalling. Damian Ramos’ 31-yard field goal increased the lead to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Jack Bech’s 76-yard punt return for a touchdown on the final play of the period was negated by a penalty.
Later in the same possession, another penalty erased another apparent score as Daniels’ pass to Kole Taylor was negated. Then Daniels was sacked and Ramos missed a 38-yard field goal.
That series of blunders was the low point of the half for LSU.
The Lobos used a 38-yard completion to cross midfield for the first time, but they wound up punting from the 37.
The Tigers finished the first half with a statement drive.
Head coach Brian Kelly chose to for a 4th-and-1 at his own 27 and Josh Williams responded with a 13-yard gain.
Daniels twice connected with Jaray Jenkins to turn third downs into first downs and the 88-yard, 15-play drive ended with Goodwin running 1 yard for a touchdown with 23 seconds left.
That gave the Tigers a reasonably comfortable though not dominant 17-0 lead at halftime.
The result Saturday was never in jeopardy, but injury reports could determine whether that’s true next week at Auburn.