Defensive Player of the Game

TEMPE, Ariz. - Though the Tigers didn't play their best defensive game in recent memory, they did step up and made plays when absolutely necessary to helped preserve a hard earned 35-31 win on the road.

Though numerous candidates stepped up during crunch time, the game ball on the defensive side goes to 6-foot-3, 290 pound defensive tackle Claude Wroten. Wroten finished the game with 3 total tackles, including 2 for loss. Though his work on defense helped tremendously, Wroten's work against Arizona State will be remembered for what he did on special teams, in what could eventually be remembered as the play that helped springboard LSU from the jaws of defeat in game one, towards a winning season.

On 4th and 2 from the LSU 30, ASU kicker Jesse Ainsworth lined up to attempt a kick that would have put the Tigers down 20-7 with about 14:30 to go. Considering how scarce points had been to come by up to that point, the order seemed like a tall task. That was of course until the big man from Bastrop, Louisiana, and transfer from Mississippi Delta CC, got his mits on the football. Wroten's blocked field goal helped shift momentum the Tiger's way and lead to an array of special teams mistakes by Arizona State. The ball was then deflected towards Mario Stevenson and the rest is history.

"The B-gap that we wanted to attack they had done a good job of defending and it was really the other B-gap that came clean," said Coach Miles of Wroten's big play. "We ran right through, got a hand on the ball, and we scored. Then they fake a punt and we score again."

Wroten is one of four returning defensive lineman, along with fellow DT Kyle Williams on a decorated LSU defensive squad which ranked third overall last year in total defense. Wroten was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lott Trophy award lists this pre-season and helped to prove his merit on the field Saturday night.

Runner Up: Sometimes players are fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. Saturday night that was certainly the case for Tigers sophomore safety Craig Steltz, who was in on two of the game's biggest plays. The 6'2" New Orleans native registered two tackles, and made two fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown on Jacob Hester's blocked punt. With Arizona State driving deep into LSU territory late in the 3rd quarter after a Joseph Addai fumble, sophomore Ali Highsmith stripped Arizona State freshman running back Keegan Herring before Steltz pounced on the balls giving the Tigers possession. Only 6 minutes later on the game clock, Steltz was in the right place again, this time returning the blocked punt 29 yards for a touchdown. Asked about the importance of the game for the people of Louisiana Steltz replied, "to bring the state together, it would take a victory just to get people's mind off the hurricane and just have something to cheer for."

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