Almost for the best reason, but instead for a dubious one.
The good news: Wing’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a fake-punt run to the end zone cost his team four points, but the Tigers didn’t need them much in a 41-11 romp past Florida at Tiger Stadium.
The bad news: That will likely come after practice throughout this week for Wing.
And oh what might’ve been had Wing not celebrated a bit too soon and drawn the flimsy penalty.
To reset the scene, the Tigers were facing fourth-and-10 from the Gators’ 47-yard-line when the offense bogged down the first time all day.
Wing uncorked a pretty 39-yard punt that LSU downed at the 8, but an illegal formation penalty wiped that play out and set up fourth-and-15.
Another snap in punt formation ensued, only this time Wing surveyed the Gators’ punt team and saw the backs of a lot of jerseys as the Florida players sprinted back to set up a return.
“I always just look up before I kick it and that’s something I’ve done ever since I was little and I noticed that there was no one, so I just took off when I saw it was open,” Wing said.
“The call was actually to punt and as I looked up just to see what was going on, there was no one there and it worked out pretty good until we got to the 5-yard-line.”
After a blistering rebuke of Wing in his postgame interview session, Miles praised his punter.
“If they don’t force the punt, we have a simple call where we say ‘If they don’t force the punt why punt it?’ ” Miles said. “If you look around and there’s nobody coming, why not run it? I think that what Brad did. I thought it was well done.
“And then he did that thing.”
That thing didn’t appear to be all that drastic as Wing stretched out both arms when he had cleared the last would-be tackler and was nearing the goal line.
Wing said he didn’t intend to taunt Florida, but took full responsibility.
“The emotions got the better of me,” he said. “It was very silly on my part. I apologize to my team. Showboating, I think, is pretty disrespectful and that definitely wasn’t my intent at all. So I apologize to the Florida players. I don’t have any disrespect toward them. They’re a great team. My emotions just got me and that’s something we’ll have to control hopefully if I get another shot.
“The rule is the rule and the rule is you can’t celebrate before the end zone and I violated that.”
And oh boy did Wing hear about it.
Miles wasted no time, corralling his punter on the sideline as soon as the play was over.
“He just really spoke about the penalty,” Wing said when asked if Miles complimented him on his decision and the almost-touchdown. “It’s sort of bittersweet.”
Eventually, though, Miles softened up as did Montgomery. Not completely, though.
“I never knew he could move like that,” he said of Wing’s surprising speed. “Not too many punters get chances to score touchdowns, so when you do get that chance, you’ve got to make it count.”
And then there was none
LSU center P.J. Lonergan went five games without an injury, making him the only Tiger up front who could make that claim.
So much for that.
On Spencer Ware’s 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Lonergan appeared to injury his left ankle when a teammate came down on his leg during the play.
Lonergan needed help off the field, with several teammates, including quarterback Jordan Jefferson, taking a knee around him while the LSU medical staff checked him out.
When the Tigers came back out on offense, T-Bob Hebert entered the game in Lonergan’s place, his first action of the day after he missed the Kentucky game with a knee injury.
Hebert was the starting center in 2009 but a series of injuries and an off-field arrest for DUI gave Lonergan a chance to move ahead. Hebert was the starting left guard in the first four games this season.
“T-Bob Hebert jumps in at center and that’s his spot,” Miles said. “He certainly can operate that as well as any. It’s nice to get him back. He’ll be fresher next week.”
Two QBs better than one?
Miles’ old-school roots might prevent him from ever uttering the words out loud, but could it be possible that LSU’s offense is better with the quarterbacks rather than one?
Jarrett Lee and Jefferson’s combined statistics sure lend themselves to that notion.
Lee was 7-of-10 passing Saturday for 154 yards and a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle. Jefferson was 3-of-4 for 61 yards and he got the Tigers in the end zone with a 2-yard jump pass to Mitch Joseph.
Both benefitted from big plays – Lee had another throw of 57 yards to Randle and 37 of Jefferson’s yards were largely a result of a Russell Shepard catch-and-run when he showed the kind of electric moves LSU fans have been waiting for since he arrived.
The LSU duo wasn’t spectacular, but didn’t need to be and Lee and Jefferson both looked comfortable in their own skin.
And there is still plenty of material to work with as the season unwinds. LSU’s conservative approach after it took a 24-0 lead was because of the situation. And when the Gators made some noise and pulled back within 27-11 late in the third period, the Tigers offensive coaches responded and pieced together touchdown drives of 81 and 76 yards in the fourth quarter.
On those two drives, Lee was 4-of-4 passing for 99 yards and Jefferson’s one pass was the 2-yard dump to Joseph.
“I think they can be better,” Miles said. “I thought we did some good things with both. Both guys played well. I think we can do it even better. There were some things we didn’t do with both guys. We stuck to a plan to a point. We felt like when victory was secured, there were things out of the playbook.”
First one is one to remember
Joseph won’t ever be a player who dominates the LSU record books, but he got his chance to at least leave a small mark Saturday.
In 42 games, Joseph now has nine career receptions. The 2-yard grab was his first touchdown.
“I looked at the sideline and saw the signal,” Joseph said. “Having the feeling inside that they finally called this play, everything played out and it was the greatest feeling in the world. I had to sell the run and I had to block him for a second or two and release inside. Right when I turned around, I saw (Jefferson) release it and it was a perfect pass.”
Moving the chains
--- Ware’s 109-yard rushing day was his second game over 100 this season and third in his career. He upped his season rushing total to 432 yards and his two rushing touchdowns give him five this season. Ware’s day makes LSU 24-2 under Miles when a back tops 100 yards.
--- The Gators’ had 113 rushing yards, the first time this season LSU has surrendered over 100. Notably, 20 yards of Florida’s total came in the last three snaps after Alfred Blue’s touchdown bumped the score to 41-11.
--- The attendance Saturday was 93,022, which was the third largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history. The largest was two years almost to the day when No. 1-Florida came to Baton Rouge and 93,129 squeezed into the building.
--- LSU linebacker Josh Johns saw his first action of the season with an appearance on the kickoff coverage team in the second quarter. Johns was arrested on Aug. 26 in relation to a fight outside a Baton Rouge bar and was suspended from all team activities until he was reinstated on Sept. 28.
--- Saturday marked the first time in Gators history that a freshman quarterback’s first career snap was as a starter. Jacoby Brissett joined Wayne Peace, Donald Douglas, Jesse Palmer and Chris Leak as Florida signal-callers who have started as freshmen.
--- Florida dropped to 3-9 all-time against the No. 1 team in the country.