In week five the LSU Tigers traveled to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in a game that would go a long way toward sorting out the SEC race. LSU had not won between the hedges since 1987, and Les Miles had never beaten the Bulldogs who came into the game with a #18 ranking despite an opening day loss to Oklahoma State.
If you fell asleep right after kickoff and woke up midway through the fourth quarter, you didn't miss much in this game. It was basically more of the same from what we saw out of the Tigers the first four weeks of the season. The defense smothered their opponent for much of the game while the offense did just enough to get by. Then there was a flurry of activity at the end with LSU somehow pulling out a win.
Georgia went three-and-out in their first possession giving LSU the ball at their own 37. The Tigers drove down the field largley on the back of a 34 yard pass from Jordan Jefferson to Brandon LaFell. But on 3rd and 4 at the Georgia 9 yard line, Jefferson threw a pick in the endzone to kill the drive.
Georgia ran the interception out of the endzone and got tackled at the two yard line. They puckered up with their back to the endzone and ended up punting from the five. A 14 yard return by Trindon Holiday set up the Tigers with a first down at the Georgia 43 yard line. By the way, did you hear that Holiday won the NCAA 100 meter dash championship? I'm sure the Capital One Bowl announcers will only remind us of that every time he touches the ball just in case you forget.LSU drove down the field to get a first and goal at the Bulldog 9. But Charles Scott got blown up on a screen pass on second down for a one yard loss. Then Jefferson sailed a pass over the head of Terrance Toliver and the Tigers were forced to kick a field goal.
On the ensuing possession, Georgia strung together a few first downs and managed to flip the field position, but they had to punt and LSU took over at their own 20. To spark the team a bit, Miles put in Russell Shepard at quarterback, and he gained 26 yards on the first three plays from the Wildcat. The drive ended at the Georgia 22 when Charles Scott got stuffed for a two yard loss on 3rd and 1. Perhaps showing a little sign of redzone desperation, Les Miles tried a trick play on fourth down where LaFell jogged toward the sideline like he was coming out of the game but then lined up in formation. A slight delay in placing the ball by the officials allowed Georgia to spot him and run a man out to defend him. LSU was forced to call timeout, and then kicked the field goal to take a 6-0 lead.
After another Georgia three-and-out, LSU took over at their own 26 and made another nice drive down to the Georgia redzone. But another gaffe would cost them points. Again showing frustration with the redzone problems, Miles elected to go for a first down on 4th and 1 at the Georgia 9. With the play clock running down, Jefferson decided to hurry the snap rather than call another timeout. The quarterback sneak failed, and Georgia took over on downs.
Though LSU completely dominated the first half, they had to be disappointed that the first half ended with them only up by six points.
In the second half it was the Georgia defense that came out determined to dominate. LSU's first possession went backwards as Jefferson was sacked on three straight plays. The Tigers were forced to punt from their own two yard line giving the Bulldogs the ball at the LSU 44 yard line. But Georgia would later miss a 32 yard field goal to cut the score in half. LSU's next possession went three-and-out, and the third quarter would later run out with the Tigers only running six offensive plays.
Georgia took the ball at their own 40 yard line and finally got some mojo. An 18 play drive that consumed nearly eight minutes off the clock ended when Joe Cox found Shaun Chapas for a touchdown pass on 4th and goal at the 1. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game at 7-6 just as the fourth quarter began.
Both teams traded punts over the next four possessions, and then LSU began a drive at their own 12 yard line and went the length of the field in 12 plays. The drive ended when Scott smashed through the line for a 2 yard touchdown. A two point conversion attempt failed when Jefferson was sacked, and LSU took a 12-7 lead with 2:53 to go in the game.
Georgia responded with a drive of their own. An LSU defensive breakdown allowed a 46 yard pass to Tavarres King to get the Bulldogs in the redzone. Then Cox found A.J. Green who leaped over a defender to make a catch in the endzone. Georgia failed on their own two point conversion when LSU broke up a slant pass, so the Bulldogs took a 13-12 lead with just over one minute to go.
But Georgia shot themselves in the foot with an unsportsmanlike conduct that forced them to kick off from their 15. Holiday returned the kick 40 yards, and another Georgia penalty tacked on another five yards to give LSU the ball at the Georgia 38. Two plays later Scott slashed through the line and took it to the house for a 33 yard touchdown. Then in what appears to be typical SEC tradition, LSU drew an unsportsmanlike conduct making them kick off from the 15. But Georgia's final drive ended with an interception by Perry Riley, and LSU escaped with another ugly win.
It was another game where LSU dominated defensively but couldn't put their opponent away. They outgained the Bulldogs 368-274 in total yards and 154-45 on the ground. Jefferson finished the day 18-of-27 for 212 yards, but he was intercepted once and gave up six sacks, many of which were from him holding the ball too long. Charles Scott was the offensive hero on the day with 95 yards and 2 TD on 19 carries. But remember that 33 of those yards came on the winning touchdown. The two quarterbacks combined for 56 yards on 22 carries for the rest of the yards LSU gained on the ground.
Quotes From The Game
"I think our guys wanted to rush the football and certainly prepared last week to do so. I think it’s hard work. I think it’s attitude. I think it’s something that this team pointed at and achieved."
- Les Miles -
"I think our offense has confidence in Charles Scott. I think our offense has confidence in the ability to run the football. We just needed to do it and put it together. I think that’s a piece that we can’t lose. We can’t lose sight of it, and it must continue to grow, but I don’t know that Charles needed that. I can tell you that his team needed him to have that day."
- Les Miles -
"I would like to get some production in the sack area. I like, again, the position that our defense puts our team in and the opportunity to win a game on the road at Georgia. For me to say I need more sacks, I like the pressure that was put on. I like the opportunity to get turnovers. I like the opportunity to stop the rushing game. I thought our defense played well. Yes, I would like to have some more sacks but not at the cost of overall production."
- Les Miles -
"Part of me is tempted to say that Jordan Jefferson had a weak game. He certainly made some critical mistakes, and continues to struggle running the option. He just does not run it authoritatively. He gets too far into the backfield, and too close to the pitch man, making it easy for one defender to cover both him and the pitch, which defeats the whole purpose of the option. In the passing game, he would hold the ball too long, and would end up getting sacked when he could have thrown the ball to an open receiver or at least thrown the ball away to avoid a big loss."