Charles Scott keeps breaking loose for long gains and LSU's running game looks as powerful as ever.
If the seventh-ranked Tigers don't find a passing game to match, they may not have it so easy when they begin Southeastern Conference play at Auburn next weekend.
Scott ran for touchdowns f 39 and 43 yards, Trindon Holliday scored on a 92-yard punt return, and LSU cruised to a 41-3 victory over winless North Texas on Saturday night.
The dominant victory came at a price. Starting linebacker Darry Beckwith left the game with an apparent knee injury. Beckwith could not put any pressure on his injured leg as two trainers helped him to the sideline, where he was given crutches. LSU head coach Les Miles declined to specify what the injury was other than to say "lower body."
"Certianly, it's serious but not a terribly serious injury," Miles said. "It's not something that will cost him the season. He's either ready to play next week or a couple weeks as it appears to me."
For the second time in as many games, LSU (2-0) didn't need much of a passing game to win big. However, coach Les Miles said earlier in the week that he hoped to see his new quarterbacks complete more passes downfield in their second game, and that didn't happen often.
LSU's longest reception was a 28-yard gain by running back Richard Murphy on a quick screen from Jerrett Lee. This against a team that had yielded 726 yards passing in its opening two losses.
Andrew Hatch, who started and got most of the snaps, finished 10-of-17 for 145 and threw his first career interception. His only touchdown came on a 7-yard keeper. Lee was 10-of-18 for 84 yards. Both quarterbacks were guilty of missing badly on throws down field to receivers who appeared open.
Both quarterback only became front-runners to start when Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed last spring. They certainly didn't need their confidence shaken by criticism from their coach, who offered only words of encouragement after the game _ at least publicly.
"Hatch did some really good things today except" for his interception, Miles said. "That's why it's the second game of season. I like both quarterbacks in bits and pieces. ... They learned and they continue to learn."
Scott, who had 160 yards rushing and two TDs against Appalachian State in LSU's opener, wound up with 102 yards on seven carries against North Texas.
Holliday, a track standout who nearly made the U.S. Olympic team as sprinter, also had a 59-yard punt return and finished with 163 return yards.
"The thing that really broke it open was the punt return" for a touchdown, UNT coach Todd Dodge said. "You talk about outkicking the coverage? We outkicked everybody that could handle No. 8."
Holliday's 92-yard return also was his first career TD on a punt (he's returned two kickoffs for scores). He rocketed through a gaping hole in the middle of the field and cut outside on a play that tied for the second-longest punt return in school history with Kenny Konz against Tulane in 1949. Eddie Kennison's 100-yard return against Mississippi State in 1994 was the longest.
North Texas never got closer to LSU's end zone than the Tigers' 16-yard line. That drive, which started at the LSU 25 after Kylie Hill's interception, produced the Mean Green's only points on Jeremy Knott's 33-yard field goal.
North Texas starter Giovanni Vizza was 22-of-40 for 149 yards. Backup Riley Dodge, inserted for a trick play, was intercepted on his only throw by Curtis Taylor
After opening the season with a 41-13 victory over Appalachian State, LSU had an unexpected weekend off after Hurricane Gustav pounded Baton Rouge two days later and forced the postponement of the Tigers' game against Troy from Sept. 6 to Nov. 15. But with generator power at their indoor field, the Tigers didn't miss any practice time and still looked sharp in the running game and on defense.
Scott's first touchdown came on LSU's fourth offensive play and the Tigers finished with 216 yards rushing. Fullback Quinn Johnson barreled over tacklers on a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Colt David had field goals of 41 and 37 yards, the second giving LSU a 27-3 halftime lead.
North Texas was unable to stay in Baton Rouge because Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had canceled numerous hotel reservations by executive order to make room for power line workers still fixing damage caused by Gustav. North Texas had to stay in New Orleans about 80 miles down the Mississippi River.
Dodge, who is from Port Arthur, Texas, said he spent much of Friday night worrying less about LSU than residents in his home state of Texas as Hurricane Ike made landfall.
"I'm sure coach Miles and his team have had to deal with a lot more than we have," Dodge said. "I'm just praying that my hometown of Port Arthur is (OK). I don't know what it really looks like right now."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.