"We weren't going to leave anything on the field in this game," said junior defensive end Reggie Torbor, whose only disappointment on the day was that his Tigers did not shut out the Bayou Bengals. "You know how much we hate Alabama. This was a close second."
Torbor, a Baton Rouge native, was part of an attacking Auburn defense that shut down the run and put the pressure on LSU redshirt freshman quarter Marcus Randall to make big plays. Four times the big plays came from the Auburn defense on interceptions--two by Karlos Dansby, one by Travaris Robinson and one from Donnay Young. The Tigers also recovered a fumble to set the tone of the game.
Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said that going in the key to the game plan defensively was to stop LSU's running attack and force the visitors into second and third down passing situations. That is what happened for much of the contest.
Torbor said that was huge in deciding the outcome. "I feel we played a real good football game," Torbor said. We kind of put them in a situation where we knew what they were going to do. That helped us tremendously when we knew whether they were going to run or pass. Then they kind of got down on themselves. Once we did that, we knew if we kept pounding them they were going to quit."
Auburn improved to 3-2 in the SEC and got back in the SEC West race. LSU is still in front with a 3-1 record and a 6-2 overall mark. Auburn improved to 5-3 on the season.
Strong safety Junior Rosegreen said the victory was a "great win" because LSU is ranked ninth in the country. "We knew we had to go out there and play Auburn football. The defense, we came to play. The offense came to play, too. We stopped them on big downs. We forced a lot of turnovers. Our main goal was to force five turnovers and we did it."
] Tommy Tuberville added a third component as being a key to victory. Auburn played brilliant field position football with Damon Duval putting on an impressive show as a punter and kicking the ball deep into the end zone to take LSU kickoff return star Domanick Davis out of the mix.
"That was a tremendous effort out of the whole team," Tuberville said. "Our motto this week was to come out and play great the first quarter. We had to set the tempo. We hadn't done that all year and sometimes that is lacking from an inexperienced team. I think we learned a lot today. We caused turnovers. We made plays. The kicking game was outstanding. Field position was the reason we got to the position we we were at to win by such an easy margin. I want to congratulate the coaches. That is one of the best game plans that I have seen."
With tackles for losses to go with two interceptions, Dansby came up big for the Tigers. Tuberville said the junior linebacker is the most consistent player on the defense. Against LSU, he was the most spectacular, too.
Karlos Dansby (11) and DeMarco McNeil celebrate Dansy's second interception.
Dansby was grinning from ear to ear after the big victory. "We had our backs against the wall and we just came out fighting, " he said. "We are going to take it a game at a time and try to win out."
The defense set the tone early for the physical game in which the winners threw the ball just 11 times in Jason Campbell's first start of the season. He completed seven and helped win the game with timely runs while completing seven passes for 105 yards.
Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino said the Tigers had planned to throw the ball more, but the way the game developed with the AU defense in command and a wet football throughout the game dictated a more conservative approach. "It was big that we didn't turn the ball over on offense," Petrino said. "That was what we were thinking about."
Petrino gave Campbell high praise for protecting the football and keeping poor plays to a minimum on a day that he played every offensive snap with former starter Daniel Cobb watching from the sideline.
Auburn had a golden opportunity when LSU's Domanick Davis was hit from the backside by Reggie Torbor on the first play from scrimmage. Dontarrious Thomas got on the fumble and Auburn was in business with its new starting QB, Jason Campbell, at the LSU 32 yard line. However, Auburn couldn't move the ball and had to settle for a 46-yard field goal attempt by Philip Yost, which had the distance but sailed wide right.
Auburn cashed in its second opportunity after free safety Travaris Robinson raced 64 yards down the Auburn sideline with an intercepted pass that was overthrown by Marcus Randall. That put the Tigers in business at the LSU 28.
Campbell had the big runs on the drive, gaining six and 17 yards. Ronnie Brown, on first and goal at the five, met no resistance as he ran over center for the touchdown. Yost's PAT made the score 7-0 with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
Another interception by a free safety, this one by Donnay Young, led to Auburn's second score. Young grabbed an errant Randall pass on a third and five play from the LSU six-yard line and returned it nine yards to the LSU 19. LSU was backed up deep because of a Duval punt that was downed at one-yard line by Lamel Ages.
A 13-yard pass from Campbell to Devin Aromashodu put Auburn in business at the LSU five. Chris Butler ran for one yard and then got three at right end, setting up third and goal at the one. However, Campbell mishandled the snap, but fell on the ball at the two. Tuberville called for a field goal and Yost made a 19-yarder although it was low and too close for comfort.
Auburn scored on its next possession with a drive that covered 55 yards on just five plays. After a seven-yard Marcel Willis punt return, the Tigers got the ball at their own 45 with 4:34 to play. Willis replaced Roderick Hood, who had fumbled on the previous punt return.
Brown got the drive moving with a 19-yard first down run and two plays later Campbell hit tight end Robert Johnston for 19 yards. After a two-yard run by Brown, Tre Smith, in motion on the play after Auburn shifted into a no backs formation, took the handoff right behind center and raced around right end for a 13-yard touchdown. The PAT kick was good and Auburn was on top 17-0 with 2:10 left in the half.
At the break, Auburn held a 136-103 edge in total offense although the home team had the ball for just 24 plays compared to LSU's 33. The key statistic was that Auburn intercepted three Randall passes and got one fumble while committing just one turnover.
After a nervous start to the second half when Auburn began at its own nine-yard line after a block in the back on the kickoff and went three and out, the home team kept the momentum. A great punt Duval punt with nice coverage made LSU start at its own 40. Auburn got the ball back in much better field position at its own 36 after LSU was forced to punt.
On the next play Campbell went for the bomb. With one on one coverage, Devin Aromashodu beat cornerback Corey Webster on a deep sideline route on a play that covered 48 yards.
On the fifth play of the possession, Campbell bootlegged right and threw a touchdown pass of four yards to uncovered tight end Robert Johnson. Yost made the kick to stretch the lead to 24-0 with 10:51 in the third quarter.
Jason Campbell throws a TD pass to Robert Johnson.
The Tigers missed a chance to stretch the lead when Yost missed a field goal on a fourth down and eight situation at the LSU 17.
The big defensive play set up the TD that put this one away for good. Again it was Dansby on the interception. This time he raced 60 yards with a pass thrown by Randall, who was harassed by a middle blitz, a new blitz scheme that Auburn had not shown this year. Speedy wide receiver Michael Clayton caught Dansby at the Auburn 22 to save the TD, but that only delayed the score.
The touchdown was rather impressive, too. Brown raced up the middle and then found a gap to the sideline to score from 20 yards out on a third down and goal play. That came with 11:14 left in the game and made the score Auburn 31, ninth-ranked LSU 0.
LSU finally got on the scoreboard on its next possession, moving 81 yards on seven plays with the aid of a questionable roughing the passer call that got the march started. Backup tailback Joseph Addai scored from eight yards out to cut the margin to 31-7.
Auburn returns to action next Saturday at 11:30 at Ole Miss.
Play of the Game: Karlos Dansby's first interception looked like a basketball power forward stripping an opponent who was trying to drive to the basket. This Dansby fellow is pretty good.
Player Of the Game: In an old-fashioned field position football game, Damon Duval averaged 46.3 on three punts with one of them pinning the Bayou Bengals back on their own one-yard line. "The field position we had this game was tremendous," Bobby Petrino said. Duval also allowed Davis just two kickoff return shots and he had to run those out of the end zone.