LSU special teams prove special Saturday

The Tigers' special teams unit was shaky a week ago against Florida. LSU turned it around Saturday and served an integral role in the 41-3 victory over Kentucky

The members of LSU’s special teams felt they were exposed last week against Florida.

That unit surrendered a pair of long punt returns to Andre Debose, one for a 62-yard touchdown, the other a 53-yarder that set up what was at the time a go-ahead score. LSU’s return team on the other hand didn’t return a punt and averaged just 21.3 yards on four kickoffs.

This week was a much different story though, as LSU’s special teams played an integral role in the Tigers’ 41-3 victory against Kentucky. LSU got its first punt return touchdown of the season while also limiting the Wildcats’ return game to a non-threat.

The players said special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto brought an extra sense of fire to that part of practice this week.

“He was pumped up from Sunday to kickoff,” said Tre’Davious White, who reached the house with a 67-yard punt return in the first quarter. “He was ready and telling us we had to get after it to prove ourselves as the best punt coverage team in the country. We prepared well and showed it tonight.”

That special teams unit announced its presence from the very first play. Kentucky tried to get tricky on the opening kickoff, first lining up in an onside formation before flipping to a standard look. The kick was short, and typical blocker Terrence Magee came up with it.

He returned it 49 yards into Kentucky territory, which led to LSU’s opening touchdown six plays letter.

“They came out and tried to trick us,” Magee said. “We were well prepared for it. Coach Peveto did a great job expecting them to shift to another look. Those guys did a great job of blocking up front and paved the way.

“To be honest, I’d prefer [Leoanrd Fournette] catch them all. I just like going to hit people. I really expected him to catch that one, but he let it come to me, so I had to seize the moment.”

He wasn’t the only LSU return man to size his moment.

After a three-and-out on Kentucky’s second offensive possession, Tre’Davious White went back to field the ensuing punt. The Tigers actually had a block called, and Peveto’s message to White was just to “get as much as you can get.”

White did and then some. Sprung by a particularly devastating block by freshman Jamal Adams, White returned it 67 yards for LSU’s first punt return touchdown since 2012.

“It felt great, especially to get it at home in front of our fans,” said White, whose previous long return was 30 yards. “It was a good momentum boost for the team, and everybody got pumped up.”

**As for that block by Adams, you can see it in this video courtesy of ESPN**


That wasn’t the only bit of magic for LSU’s special teams Saturday. It was a night where everything just seemed to bounce their way — literally.

Colby Delahoussaye had a 35-yard field goal ricochet off the left upright and through for a successful attempt. But the luck really showed on a squibbed kickoff at the end of the second half.

Just trying to prevent a return, Trent Domingue skidded his kickoff across the turf. The ball took a hard left and came to rest near the Kentucky 37-yard line. No Wildcats came close to it, and sophomore defensive lineman Lewis Neal was the one to come up with it.

That put the Tigers close enough to get one last field goal — the one that hit off the upright —before the end of the half.

“It was an accident,” Les Miles said of the kickoff, “but it sure was a nice accident.”

After nearly becoming the goat in last week’s nail biter against Florida, the special teams unit was the polar opposite against Kentucky. It was arguably Peveto’s first signature moment since returning to LSU as an assistant this season, and everyone credited him with turning it around so quickly.

“He’s doing a great job as the coordinator,” Miles said. “He’s on top of it. He’s instrumental in the improvements that have been made.”



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