Ron Brooks scrawled ‘TM7’ on his left arm and referred to Mathieu as his little brother after the game.
Sam Montgomery said he cried at the team hotel when he thought about his teammates not being on the field for the game and said the three players were welcome back with open arms.
All that aside, though, there was also plenty of talk about how important it is – and will be – for the next man to be ready to step in whenever a teammate is missing for whatever reason.
Bottom line: How teams handle bumps in the road and unexpected absences are two vital parts of the foundation of any team with championship aspirations.
“We understand how special this season is and how we want it to be,” fifth-year senior Jarrett Lee said. “We also understand that certain situations are going to happen and you just have to be prepared so that when your opportunity comes, you make the most of it. We have a special thing going and we have a special group of guys. We just have to continue to stay focused and play hard.”
LSU’s six sacks were a season-high and were most Auburn has allowed in 2011.
That bumped LSU’s total to 19 this season, most in the SEC. Of that total, 15 have come in three games – four against Mississippi State and five vs. Kentucky before Saturday.
Twice Saturday LSU recorded sacks on back-to-back plays – once blowing up an Auburn drive in the red zone and forcing a field goal and later obliterating whatever hope AU had of salvaging respectability after falling behind 42-3.
“It felt really good,” said Barkevious Mingo, who notched two of the sacks and has four this season, which matches Montgomery for the team lead. “It’s just something that you have to do and then move on to the next play. You can’t live on that last sack.”
The six sacks of Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley resulted in -56 yards. Until Michael Dyer bolted 29 yards in the fourth quarter, that negative yardage was more than any AU back had going the right direction.
“Six sacks are unacceptable,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “That was an anemic job of protecting the quarterback. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of research to do to figure out how to stop the bleeding in that regard.”
That bleeding never let up Saturday. Instead, Auburn had to juggle its offensive game plan.
There were very few downfield throws to keep Moseley from standing exposed in the pocket. Dyer rarely found room to run on the misdirection plays that have fueled his season.
“They kind of had to change what they wanted to do,” Mingo said. “They brought extra people in to protect and try to keep us from getting in the backfield.”
Any more questions?
The notion of whether LSU can win with two quarterbacks continues to be a topic of interest, but there certainly don’t seem to be any lingering doubts within the team.
Lee and Jordan Jefferson split the role again effectively against Auburn, combining for 219 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The two were so similar Saturday that they threw long touchdown passes on almost identical plays to Rueben Randle in the second quarter – both on the money and in stride.
“I have a lot of trust in both to get us to the end zone,” center T-Bob Hebert said. “I can’t say enough about those two and how hard they’ve worked and how they’ve handled this situation.”
Added LSU coach Les Miles, “Those guys are teammates and they enjoy the success that each is having and they’re rooting for each other. We need to have both quarterbacks playing well.”
Lee again got the majority of the snaps Saturday and finished with another efficient day: 14-of-20 for 165 yards. He also survived a near interception that would’ve been his first since the third game of the season.
“That got my attention because that’s not something we ever want,” Lee said. “That’s something that will help me refocus now.”
Moving the chains
--- Randle’s five receptions Saturday give him 33 this season, which matches his career-best total established last season. He also surpassed last year’s yardage total and now has 638. Randle’s 106 receiving yards were his third game this season over the century mark.
--- Saturday’s crowd of 93,098 was the second largest in Tiger Stadium history. The 2009 game vs. No. 1-ranked Florida drew 93,129.
--- LSU’s 45 points are the most it has ever scored against Auburn and the 35-point margin of victory was the largest in the series between the two teams.
--- With a touchdown on the game’s opening series, LSU has now scored on its first chance with the ball six times in eight games.
--- Auburn’s first-quarter field goal was the first time an opponent had scored against LSU since Mississippi State on Sept. 15.
--- The three TD passes between Lee and Jefferson marked the second game in a row the Tigers have recorded three scoring strikes for the first time since 2007 when Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux combined for 10 in a three-game stretch vs. Auburn, Alabama and Louisiana Tech.
--- Lee’s two TDs give him 31 for his career and Jefferson’s was his 30th. Lee is tied with Flynn and Alan Risher for sixth place on LSU’s all-time list. He also upped his career yardage total to 3,831 to move into 10th place on the school’s all-time chart ahead of Matt Mauck.
--- Kenny Hilliard’s two touchdown runs make him the sixth LSU back to score on the ground this season it was also the sixth time in eight games a Tiger has recorded two rushing TDs in a game.
--- Brad Wing delivered another big day with three punts of 52 yards or longer, three that pinned AU inside the 20-yard-line and once inside the 10. Wing now has 15 punts inside the 20 this season, eight inside the 10 and 11 of 50 yards or longer.