FEINSWOG: Tigers turn turnovers into triumph

Take a deep breath and chant the mantra: "Tiger Turnover."

Yet the same football team that couldn't stop Arizona State from picking it apart like a Thanksgiving turkey and the same team that wilted like warm lettuce against a weak-armed QB from Tennessee, is now the same team that boasts as good a defense as there is in the land and stands poised to make a run at the Southeastern Conference championship.

 

"The game plan was to come in and get after them. Let them know we were here for business and not here to play around," said LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith, who had two of LSU's four sacks of beleaguered Florida quarterback Chris Leak.

 

On an absolutely beautiful setting in Tiger Stadium, with the sun shining, the temperature listed at 82, with a nice breeze and kickoff during the daytime when all football games should be played, LSU's defense simply manhandled Florida all game long.

 

LSU won 21-17, but Florida's second-quarter touchdown, third-quarter field goal and third-quarter TD all followed Tiger turnovers.

 

As a side note, it's likely you already have that phrase committed to memory: "Tiger Turnover."

Take away those "Tiger Turnovers" and LSU pitches a shutout and probably wins 42-0.

 

As Florida made a last-possession effort, the LSU defense wasn’t making a final stand, but another assault.

 

"They told us on the sidelines, the last few minutes of the game, ‘Go get ‘em.' We were all smiling," LSU defensive lineman Chase Pittman said after, still smiling. "We like that. It's fun."

 

Fun for those guys is getting to the quarterback, something they did plenty Saturday. Leak was not only sacked four times, but he spent most of the game running for his life, getting banged around like a rag doll. He passed for a paltry 107 yards.

 

Highsmith gave credit to the line.

 

"The defensive line, if they do their job and we just sit back and let them do what they gotta do, everything comes clear for us," Highsmith said.

 

"Putting pressure on Chris Leak, that's the main thing we had to do. We knew if we rattled him, everything was going to be all right."

 

Kyle Williams just smiles when you ask him about being able to just tee off on the offense. His stats showed a quarterback hit.

 

"We felt like their defense did a good job causing the turnovers for them and putting them in some really good field position," Williams said.

 

"But there towards the end of the game we knew that if we didn't turn it over and they were back on their 20 or 30 yard line, we didn't feel like they could score on us," Williams said.

 

"We didn't feel like they could move the ball the length of the field on us."

 

Good ol' timey football for LSU, if you discount 11 "yes, 11 penalties" and five, yes five, "Tiger Turnovers."

 

But it boasted a fierce defense that was dominant and a running back, Joseph Addai, who carried, the load, running 32 times for 156 yards.

 

"The defense played really good," Addai said. "They've been playing good since the second game of the season and that's been helping us out at the same time."

 

You can't talk about the Tigers' effort without a mention of punter Chris Jackson, who is flat-out nailing the ball. If LSU needs distance, he blasts it. If LSU needs to down the ball inside the 20, he's right on.

 

LSU head coach Les Miles wondered if there's a better punter in the country. At this point likely not.

And you know the best part about Jackson right now?

 

He hasn't committed any of those 15 "Tiger Turnovers" this season.

 

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Lee Feinswog is the author of "Tales From The LSU Sidelines," a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.

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