Tigers' Bait-And-Switch Game Traps Hogs

LITTLE ROCK -- LSU pulled the old Tiger bait-and-switch game against Arkansas in a 43-14 victory on Saturday.

The Tigers listed freshman JaMarcus Russell as their starting quarterback in the "depth chart changes" distributed to media before the game.

But LSU coach Nick Saban, asked when he had decided to start senior Marcus Randall, admitted, "About an hour after our game (against Ole Miss) last week."

After all, Randall had started against Arkansas in War Memorial Stadium in a 21-20 loss in 2002.

"We played him today because he played well here two years ago," Saban said. "We would have played JaMarcus if we'd struggled, but Marcus had such control that it was not the time to change. He did a fantastic job."

Randall completed 10-of-14 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 17 times for 79 net yards and two more touchdowns.

"Marcus has a lot of speed and he's real strong," said Tigers running back Joseph Addai, who had 88 yards in tandem offense himself.

Randall said, "Our team made a pact saying the seniors would go out a winner. Arkansas' defense is pretty simple and our scout team did a great job imitating them all week."

Besides hogging the ball for 34 minutes, LSU played bait-and-switch two other times.

First, they decided against punting the ball from the Arkansas 36 after a UA timeout, and instead Chris Jackson kicked a 53-yard field goal.

"I was in thecoaches'ear that I could make a field goal," Jackson said. "I said it out loud in the (sideline) huddle. I had made a 46-yarder into the wind earlier."

LSU special teams coach Derek Dooley, son of former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, believed in Jackson.

"Derek said Chris could make a 56-yarder with the wind," Saban said. "I just got a feeling the kid was gonna make it. We also had a fake-kick option, but Arkansas had a safety deep."

The Tigers' trickery also included their foiling an Arkansas fake punt by having cornerback Ronnie Prude show a punt-rush and then drop back into coverage just before the snap.

"We were trying to bait them into not getting a gunner to come in," Saban said. "We wanted (Prude) to bail out at a certain time."

Sure enough, Prude backpedaled and covered would-be UA receiver Darius Vinnett on what turned out to be an incomplete pass by Hogs punter Jeremy Davis.

"I saw (Vinnett's) eyes light up, and I knew he wasn't running down the field to cover a punt," Prude said.

Saban said the Tigers, now bound for a Capital One Bowl game against Iowa unless Auburn loses to Tennessee next week, played their most complete 60 minutes of the season.

They lost focus only at the finish, when Ryan Gaudet missed an extra point; the Tigers left their kicking tee on the field after the ensuing kickoff; and they nearly dropped the 200-pound Golden Boot signifying their fifth win over Arkansas in nine years.

LSU center Doug Planchard and offensive guard Terrell McGill staggered under the Boot while displaying it for CBS.

But just then, Prude intercepted Hogs quarterback Robert Johnson on the game's final play ("I tried to get down, but my mind was thinking ‘end zone,'" he said) and an impressive contingent of LSU fans saluted their heroes' season-closing six-game winning streak.

"17-1 -- the Streak is Done," read one LSU sign, indicating a breakthrough at Little Rock against UA coach Houston Nutt.

Saban held both index fingers aloft and said, "Thank you" to fans as he left the field, while a Tigers fan called, "Hey, how about Orlando?!"

The Tigers haven't bowled in Orlando, Fla., since 1979, when the Tangerine Bowl held sway.

"I'm very, very proud of our team," Saban said. "We showed a lot of character after being humiliated (45-16) against Georgia. A lot of guys stepped up. This is a difficult place to play, but our score before halftime was a big momentum-changer and then we dominated the second half."

LSU free safety LaRon Landry, who had two interceptions, said, "We saw Matt Jones wasn't really running a lot, and that helped us out a whole lot."

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