Sunday, October 02, 2011

Jefferson returns as LSU whips Kentucky, 35-7

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't overwhelming, but the Tigers simply took all four quarters to grind out four offensive touchdowns and one defensive to whip the hapless Kentucky Wildcats 35-7.
The big news of the game was the return of veteran quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who scored on a one-yard sneak to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
To be honest, many of the Tiger faithful booed him when he trotted on the field. It was a mixed emotion-type thing.

Will Jarrett Lee, who got LSU to No. 1, be relegated to a backup role now? Will Jefferson get equal snaps now? All we know is that opposing defenses have that much more to worry about now.

"When Jordan Jefferson scored that touchdown, and (starting quarterback) Jarrett Lee celebrated, that's when I knew right then, that the word 'team' means so much more," LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery said. "Jordan's been through a whole lot, so now he can tell the story of how, 'I went through this, bounced back, came back on the team, and now we're all a big family again.'"

After the game, LSU coach Les Miles said Jefferson's return simply opens up the playbook.

"We will use Jefferson in a variety of ways," said Miles, who did not allow Jefferson to speak with reporters after the game. "At different times in the season, we will need every skill and every collective attribute of our team."

On the stat sheet it will show that LSU had their average of 178 (give or take) yards rushing, but in reality the Kentucky front line stuffed the Tigers more times than they will be given credit for.

With Spencer Ware leading the way (until he was injured) LSU’s power running game gained only a paltry yards on its first 12 carries.

“It’s really tough, because we came out and we thought we had them,” linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. “It was like, ‘Hey, we’re here to fight.’ I felt like we were showing them. We played pretty tough. Then it just slipped away from us.”

Wildcats starter Morgan Newton had an abysmal game, misfiring on his first nine throws and being sacked three times. 
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips put true freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith in for the second half but he was even worse, going 1 for 5 before fumbling the ball on a sack.

"We just thought we needed a spark and wanted to give Morgan a chance to sit back and watch the game from a distance," Phillips said.
Phillips was piping-hot mad in the first quarter when LSU scored their first TD. Replay showed that the Tigers broke the huddle with 12 men, which should have been a flag. Instead, the referee touched his flag during the commotion but didn't throw it. If he had, the Tigers might have elected not to put Jefferson in and may have had to settle for a field goal.

Another controversial call was when Odell Beckham, who scored on a swerving 52-yard touchdown earlier, had a jump ball clearly taken from him in the second half. Replays showed that the defender had took possession from Beckham but the referees gave the ball to LSU at the Wildcat 5-yard line. It was a crucial play in the game if for nothing more it would have given Lee an interception.

The Wildcats were outgained 348 yards to 155, with more than half of that coming very late in the game. To put it another way, UK had 59 yards in the first three quarters.

After the game, Kentucky's coach indicted his players.

“We’ve got to find out if our kids are willing to continue to fight, scratch and claw,” Phillips said. “I think we’ve got a chance to turn this thing around … but we’ve got to start making plays, and we’ve got to start playing smarter.”

LSU wanted the shutout but couldn't keep it as Newton returned to the game and hit Matt Roark with a 4-yard pass with 6:09 on the clock.

LSU Tyrann Mathieu, who by now must be at least looked at for Heisman consideration, continued his strong play, scoring on a 23-yard fumble return that he forced on a sack. He set the school record for forced fumbles on the play. He had another in the fourth quarter.

"I was just sneaking up to the line and it was just getting to the quarterback," said Mathieu.

Next up for the Tigers, Florida.

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