Baton Rouge, La.--On a night when LSU had 319 yards passing, it was a measly 22 that ripped the heart out of Auburn when Matt Flynn hit Demetrius Byrd with just one second left to give LSU the victory in a classic slugfest on the bayou.
It was anything but classic for Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp though as his defense gave up a season-high 488 yards to LSU in the loss and 23 points after intermission. Muschamp says all those yards didn't mean anything until the final touchdown, when LSU guessed right and it paid off for the winning score.
"We had our opportunities to get our stops," Muschamp says. "We lost a critical third-down on the first drive (of the second half). It was third and 12 and (Early) Doucet makes a great play. We've got the guy doubled down the middle and he made a great play on the ball. We played well in the red area. We got a little tired there, but that's no excuse. We've got to make the plays in the end.
"I really felt like they would run the ball to the middle of the field," he adds. "We called a run pressure trying to make something happen. If we tip the ball in the end zone the game is over. It worked out for them tonight."
With the clock reading 3:13 and LSU needing just a field goal to win, the home team got a break when Wes Byrum's squib kickoff bounced off a LSU player to Lazarius Levingston at the LSU 42-yard line. With plenty of time to get into field goal range, LSU ran the ball six out of the first seven plays before hitting tight end Richard Dixon for one yard to the AU 22 with just less than 30 seconds left in the game.
Needing just three points for the victory, Muschamp says he thought run all the way and didn't think the pass was coming.
"We got them to the third-down situation and I'm thinking they are going to run the ball to the middle of the field and kick the field goal," Muschamp says. "They take a shot at the end zone and if we tip the ball the game is over. They made the play and we didn't."
It was a match up LSU says they had been waiting on all night. A chance to throw the ball down the field against man coverage on the outside. Muschamp says Auburn sophomore Jerraud Powers was in good position, but just didn't make the play.
"You've got to get around and play the ball," Muschamp says. "When you play blitz coverage you take that chance, but if we tip the ball right there the game is over. It worked out for them tonight."
A former coach at LSU under Nick Saban, Muschamp is very familiar with the Auburn-LSU rivalry and the intensity that has become a trademark of each and every game in the series. He notes while this will be a tough loss for Auburn, it's not something that will keep this team down.
"It's always a good game," Muschamp says. "There's a lot of good players on the field with well-coached teams. They do a good job and we do a good job. It's always a tight game and it's going to come down to the last series. You've got to make the plays when they happen and they did tonight.
"We'll bounce back," Muschamp adds. "Our kids will be fine. We've got great kids in that locker room."