Two-man show sparks strong second half

Quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson both play key roles in 38-7 romp as the Tigers produce three long touchdown drives after halftime to pull away against Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – There was a little emotion than usual for the LSU football team, a familiar method of taking care of business and – in the second half anyway – a heavy dose of offensive execution.

All of that added up to another dominant SEC victory, 38-7 over Tennessee in front a huge, but subdued crowd of 101,822 at cavernous Neyland Stadium.

Tigers defensive coordinator John Chavis capped an emotional week by orchestrating another clamp-down defensive effort and got the game ball afterward.

UT's Da' Rick Rogers caught 3 passes for 63 yards, but Tyrann Mathieu and LSU limited the Volunteers to 239 yards.

After coughing and sputtering in the first quarter, LSU’s offense dominated the second half with three long touchdown drives to sap whatever lingering hope the Volunteers clung to of a season-altering upset.

Underlying all of the above, though, was what has suddenly become an inescapable topic for the Tigers and Coach Les Miles.

Seven weeks into the season and three weeks since Jordan Jefferson’s return from suspension, is LSU’s offense now officially a two-quarterback system?

In the afterglow of the Tigers’ most lopsided victory ever against the Volunteers, Miles tried to downplay that notion.


“I liked using both quarterbacks,” he said after both Jefferson and Lee delivered big-time contributions. “I think that’s what’s best. I think both guys can do different things, and we like to do that and we will continue to do that. I think there is a want for both guys to have success and to have team success.”


That success was certainly hard to argue with Saturday.

With Jefferson at the controls most of the time, the Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) churned out three long touchdown drives in the second half after plodding to a 17-7 lead in the first two quarters.


LSU stretched out, ran past and barreled over the Volunteers (3-3, 0-3) with drives of 66, 99 and 65 yards in the final 30 minutes, devouring 21:59 of the second-half clock.

Front-and-center was Jefferson, who saw his most action of the season and rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Although Jefferson was requested for postgame interviews, he was not made available to the media after the game.

Lee engineered the last series, which culminated with a 14-yard lateral to Russell Shepard for a touchdown that slammed the door.

In the first half, Lee was 8-of-12 passing for 97 yards and two scores. He finished 10-of-14 for 115 yards.

He said he found out while he was warming up before the third quarter that Jefferson was starting the third quarter.

“Little change of tempo, little change of pace,” Lee said, several times deflecting questions about Jefferson’s expanded role. “It gave Tennessee something else to worry about. We moved down the field and scored, and if that’s what needs to happen, that’s what we need to continue to do.

"Whatever needs to happen for us to win. I’m not concerned at all. He brings something else to the table athletically as a quarterback."

Again, hard to argue with the results.

For two quarters, LSU scratched out only 161 yards and needed short fields to account for most of its 17 points.

With Jefferson and Lee sharing the load after halftime, the Tigers rolled up 222 on those three TD drives.

“It’s like a nightmare for a defensive coordinator,” Shepard sad. “When a defensive coordinator comes in and he’s looking at this team, you’ve got two different quarterbacks that bring two totally different elements to the game, you’ve got a stable of running backs, you’ve got all type of receivers that can make plays on the perimeter. So when you just add the extra dimension to that (quarterback) position, one defense can’t prepare for our team in one week. It kind of helps us out in a way and gives us more a little more room to do a little different things offensively.”

Maybe so. But in the second half, there wasn’t much mystery involved.

The Tigers simply lined up and ran the ball and dared Tennessee to stop them.

Including the lateral to Shepard, LSU’s offensive play selection on those three series was 33 runs and five passes.

The signature drive was a 99-yard grinding drive after Tennessee punter Matt Darr dropped a punt at the 1-yard-line at the 2:39 mark of the third quarter.

Spencer Ware blasted his way for 11 yards on third-and-7 from the 4, Kenny Hilliard turned a fullback blast into a 13-yard pickup, Jefferson bounced wide on a read option to the left side and later scrambled for 14 yards after a chop block forced LSU into a second-and-16.

Vols coach Derek Dooley called the 99-yard march a backbreaker.

“I don’t know any other way to say it,” Dooley said. “Just running through tackles, running around us. We weren’t as good on the corners and we weren’t really as good as them in the middle.”

It didn’t help, of course, that Tennessee’s offense couldn’t stay on the field.


The Vols had the ball three times in the second half, ran 19 plays and garnered 66 yards. A three-and-out sandwiched between the Tigers 66-yard TD drive to begin the third quarter and the 99-yarder was deflating.

Spencer Ware: 80 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns

“When they started putting their hands on the ground you could see they were getting a little fatigued,” said Ware, who led LSU with 80 rushing yards and scored twice – on a 13-yard screen pass and a 1-yard run to finish the first drive in the second half.

“We were having fun and when you’re having fun it makes it that much easier. A couple of times, their guys said ‘All you all do is run the ball,’ and we just kind of laughed about it and said ‘Stop it.’ ”

That was something the Vols couldn’t do after the first quarter, and strangely enough it took a dazzling defensive play to ignite the LSU offense.

After the Tigers’ first three series finished with punts, Tennessee had a little momentum bubbling – especially when Matt Simms lofted a 38-yard pass to Rajion Neal that was called out of bounds then changed on an official review.

Mo Claiborne: His interception and 89-yard return sparked LSU on both sides of the ball after a scoreless first quarter.

The Vols tried to go right back to the well on a deep throw to the left side to Da’Rick Rogers, but Morris Claiborne had other ideas. He outdueled Rogers for the ball, came down with it at the LSU 6 and weaved his way 89 yards the other direction.

Two plays later, Lee rifled the 5-yard strike to Rueben Randle for a touchdown.

“We wanted to beat the defensive back inside and Jarrett threw a great pass,” Randle said. He finished with five grabs for 86 yards.

Another short field set up the Tigers’ second score – the screen pass to Ware.

Tennessee’s ensuing series started at the 11 and Barkevious Mingo blew up a stretch play for a 7-yard loss, eventually forcing a punt from the 4.

LSU got the ball at the Vols’ 36 on the exchange and Jefferson made his first appearance of the day right after a Lee-to-Randle 12-yard pass got the Tigers near the red zone. Four Jefferson runs got the ball to the 13, and Lee came back in to float the pass to Ware, whose path was paved by devastating blocks from Chris Faulk and Randle.

Tennessee responded with its only scoring drive of the day, and maybe the best offensive series a Tigers’ opponents has produced this season.

With Tauren Poole peppering LSU on the ground, UT drove 80 yards in 10 plays and cut the lead in half when Poole’s eight carry of the series was good for a 2-yard TD.

“They were beating us up front on that long drive,” safety Eric Reid said. “We weren’t expecting them to run the ball as much as they did.”

The Tigers had a chance to get the touchdown back, but had to settle for a Drew Alleman 18-yard field goal instead.

Ware’s 11-yard run and a quick hitch pass from Lee to Randle that turned into a 45-yard gain got LSU to the 10. Lee zipped a pass to DeAngelo Peterson to the 1, but Jefferson was stuffed on a sneak to force the kick.

Armed with the lead, the Tigers turned up their intensity in the second half and went back to the offensive basics that have carried them most of this season.


“On offense late in the game we ran the football and ate up the time of possession and scored, and that was the game,” Miles said.


“I don’t know that we were perfect in any way, but I felt like we did the things we needed to do.”


And afterward, Miles did the only thing he could in the locker room as well.


John Chavis

Chavis played for the Vols in the late 1970s and was a Tennessee assistant coach for 20 years until 2008 when he arrived in Baton Rouge after a messy exit from his alma mater.


When he spoke to the media after the game, Chavis got choked up for several seconds.


“I said I’d never do this again, but I did,” Chavis said. “So I’m a softie. Call me a big baby or whatever you want.

“It’s a great feel when you leave a program and you didn’t get a chance to leave the way that you wanted to, it’s a great feel that people still care about you. It’s a great program. I wish them well. I hope they have great success.”

Off to a 7-0 start for the second year in a row, the Tigers return home to entertain Auburn at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday.

SCORING RECAP: No. 1 LSU 38, Tennessee 7

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