Mike Brockers delivers a key game-changer

Big LSU defensive tackle comes up with a pick to put momentum squarely on the Tigers' sideline in a 49-3 triumph against Northwestern State.

The cynic might say LSU defensive tackle Mike Brockers was simply in the right place at the right time Saturday when he had a dream moment that every big lineman dreams of.


He can live with that to a degree, but the big Houston native also says some athleticism went into it as well.


Brockers interception of a Northwestern State screen pass in the second quarter set up the second of five unanswered touchdowns by the Tigers’ 49-3 romp and earned the 6-foot-6, 310-pound sophomore TigerSportsDigest.com Defensive Player of the Week honors.


With LSU already taking control with a 14-3 lead, the Demons’ dwindling hopes of an upset took a wrong turn when quarterback Brad Henderson drifted back on third-and-12 to set up a screen to the left side.


Brockers didn’t bite on the play, and when the ball headed his direction he dove horizontally and snatched the ball with his left hand, cradling it to his enormous body as he hit the ground.


“I just felt like I had to catch it and give our offense some good field position,” said Brockers, who also contributed a pair of tackles and teamed up for one stop behind the line of scrimmage. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to catch it until I felt it in my hands and told myself ‘I’m not going to let it fall on the ground.’


“I saw how soft the quarterback threw the ball, and I was able to get out of my block and reach out and grab it. I didn’t want it to full out of my hands so I just curled up. I didn’t want it to hit the ground.”’


It didn’t and Brockers’ teammates erupted in celebration – especially his defensive comrades.


“To see a big guy doing something like a DB fires up everybody,” defensive end Sam Montgomery said. “I saw him leap like he was making a tackle and all of a sudden he’s got the ball. That was like a Tyrann Mathieu moment. At practice we usually work on catching picks off screens, but that’s the first time I’ve seen a defensive tackle do that.”


Added safety Eric Reid, “That’s just some real athleticism for a guy that big. It’s crazy.”


But not unprecedented for LSU.


Last season defensive tackle Drake Nevis snared a pass and returned it 3 yards.


While Brockers didn’t gain any ground after his pick, he was still proud.


“Mine was more athletic,” he said with a smile. “And it was a game-changer.”


Hard to argue against that point.


LSU punched the ball into the end zone two plays later for a 21-3 lead and the Northwestern State offense was never the same.


The Demons had compiled a modest 46 yards and three first downs on the four drives before the interception but scratched out only 51 more yards and three first downs on the next 10 series.


“It was a little accidental,” Brockers said. “But it changed the game for our offense because we gave them great field position and they scored off it.”


And kept scoring.


Spencer Ware had scored a short rushing TD before the pick and also plowed in after the turnover, part of a stretch that included three touchdowns in four possessions before halftime and six of the next eight drives overall.


“We were pretty focused after that,” Reid said. “We didn’t want them to score any more and the offense really started clicking.”


So was Brockers’ big play a harbinger of what to expect as he settles in as a full-time starter? Apparently not.


“That was the first and last one,” he said with a smile. “I don’t think they’ll throw it at me like that again.”


Offensive player of the week: WR Rueben Randle

Rueben Randle


After being limited by a sore knee in the season opener – and still catching a touchdown pass – Randle was all over the field against Northwestern State with five catches for 121 yards.


He and Jarrett Lee hooked up for a 43-yard play on the Tigers’ first snap and that loosened up the Demons’ defense the rest of the night.


All but one of Randle’s catches netted a first down and each of those four moved the ball inside the Northwestern State 25-yard-line.


Special teams player of the week: P/K D.J. Howard

D.J. Howard


Filling in for injured Brad Wing, the senior walk-on was rock-solid as both the punter and kickoff man. He averaged 41 yards on three punts, two that he placed inside the 20-yard-line.


And on kickoffs, he boomed the ball an average of 62.5 yards on eight tries.

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