Doucet racking up the highlights

NASHVILLE - The man who made the most memorable play in the season-opener had a memorable game against Vanderbilt.

Sophomore receiver Early Doucet earned the game ball for the Vanderbilt game with five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. And while none of his plays in Nashville will compare to the dramatic 39-yard touchdown pass he caught against Arizona State to win LSU's first game of the season, he still made big plays on a night LSU battled mostly with itself before winning 34-6.


Doucet was a big factor in the fourth quarter when the Tigers mercifully pulled away from Vanderbilt after dominating all night on the stat sheet. LSU led just 12-6 entering the fourth quarter despite a 374-78 yardage advantage.


"It was tough only getting field goals out of all those drives," Doucet said. "We wanted to score every time, but you just have to take it how it comes. We have to move forward from this and get better."


Doucet helped LSU get better in the final frame. He set the Tigers up for a successful fourth quarter by catching a 35 yard pass on the final play of the third quarter. From there, he drew a pass interference penalty that set LSU up at the Vanderbilt 20 yard line. Three plays later the Tigers were in the end zone for the first time since the first quarter.


Leading 18-6, LSU went for two, and quarterback JaMarcus Russell found Doucet for the two-point conversion, even though he may have been looking for Dwayne Bowe.


"We work on that play every day in practice," Doucet said. "The play was intended for Dwayne, but I saw the ball and made the play."


On LSU's next possession, Doucet helped get things moving with a 19-yard catch and finished it off with an eight-yard touchdown on third down. The score gave LSU a 27-6 lead and put the game out of reach.


"Early is continuing his development," said LSU coach Les Miles. "I think he is going to be a heck of a receiver. Certainly he catches the ball, and he's difficult to tackle. He's very elusive and strong."

Doucet appreciates the confidence his coach has in him, but stresses that his works is far from done.


"I think I'm coming along pretty good," he said. "Coach still gets on every receiver about finishing plays and making the blocks downfield to get our backs get some long runs. He works us hard every day in practice. It will pay off for us."


Miles was not completely pleased with Doucet's evening, and that was because of a downfield block that went awry. Doucet was flagged for holding downfield on a Justin Vincent run in the first quarter.


"If I remember, he made a mistake tonight," Miles said. "We'll have to fix that."


Doucet was part of a team that committed 14 penalties for a staggering 133 yards on the evening.


"We had too many penalties," Doucet said. "As the games go by, you want to have less and less penalties. Unfortunately, we had too many this game, but we will work on that."


Doucet credited the offensive line for creating the opportunities for the offense to pile up 479 yards and almost 35 minutes of possession.


"The play-calling by (offensive coordinator) Jimbo (Fisher) to get the guys the ball was great and the offensive line blocking was great. All the throws were open all night."


The sophomore wide receiver has 227 yards in four games, which is just 30 yards shy of his 2004 output. His two touchdowns in 2005 matches his total from last season.


"He'll continue to develop," Miles said. "He's still young."


Doucet said he does not feel Russell and he have a special relationship on the field, stating that all the receivers are comfortable with the sophomore quarterback. Russell looked to Bowe early in the game, hitting him three times on the opening drive of the game that resulted in a touchdown. Bowe had five catches for 98 yards in the first quarter, then did not catch another pass as Russell went elsewhere en route to his 285 yards passing.


"I think he has a great relationship with all of the receivers," Doucet said. "As long as the offensive line gives him time back there, he can just about throw the ball to any receiver. That is a great compliment to our line."


The LSU offense was frustrated for the first three quarters against a bend-but-don't-break Vanderbilt defense. The Tigers missed two first-half field goals (one of which hit the upright) and had four turnovers in the first three quarters. LSU had 10 straight possessions after scoring on the opening drive that did not end in a touchdown.


"We just didn't get down on ourselves. We went into halftime and got our composure and got a handle on things and came out in the second half and played better," Doucet said. "It was tough only getting field goals out of all those drives. We wanted to score every time, but you just have to take it how it comes. We have to move forward from this and get better."


Next up for the Tigers is a showdown with Florida, a team Doucet scored a key touchdown against in last year's 24-21 win. Doucet had three catches for 52 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown with 12 seconds before halftime that pulled LSU to within 21-14.

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