Charles Scott rushed for a career-high 160 yards on 16 carries, including touchdowns of 8 and 29 yards, and No. 7 LSU rolled to 41-13 victory over Appalachian State on Saturday.
"It really doesn't matter to us" who plays quarterback, Scott said. "The (offensive) line is doing great right now, and they're only going to get better. Our rushing game is going to be the strength of this team and we're going to get those guys in the pocket comfortable."
Andrew Hatch, who transferred from Harvard in 2007, took the field on the Tigers' opening three series, which produced 17 points. LSU coach Les Miles also gave redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee a chance. Both threw their first touchdown pass as a Tiger, but the real damage was done on the ground. LSU, which averaged about 214 yards rushing per game last season, finished with 266 against the Mountaineers.
Hatch was 7-for-14 passing for 77 yards, including a 17-yard TD to Demetrius Byrd. He also ran for 43 yards. Lee was 6-for-10 for 116 yards, with scoring passes of 31 and 39 yards to Brandon LaFell. Lee also threw an interception that set up an Appalachian State field goal.
"We ran the football like we needed to," Miles said. "We probably tried to force the pass as best we could just to get some of these young guys some experience."
With Hurricane Gustav threatening the Gulf Coast, kickoff was moved up from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. so the game would end well before evacuation traffic began.
LSU quickly squashed any notion defending Football Championship Subdivision champs Appalachian State had of using Death Valley to stage an encore to their upset at the Big House a year ago, when the Mountaineers scored a captivating 34-32 triumph over Michigan.
The Tigers raced to a 31-0 lead in the first half and maintained a comfortable lead as reserves filtered in the rest of the way.
"They're so athletic. It just wore on us," Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said. "They didn't play like Michigan. They played like LSU."
Appalachian State's vaunted spread offense, which averaged nearly 43 points a game last season, looked spread thin against an LSU defense that augmented its ferocious front four with relentless blitzing.