Each Tiger drive was a toss up. Between the five turnovers and the numerous
penalties, there was never any indication how the drive would
However, one constant was the ground presence of Joseph Addai. He recorded new career highs with 156 yards on 32 carries shouldering the load of the offense and coming through at crucial times.
His three yard touchdown trot gave LSU a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter, and ultimately the victory.
"He is a tough, hard nosed warrior," said head coach Les Miles. "He is what we needed. He wants to compete and is a leader of our team."
Addai also contributed to the offensive mistakes. And it is a mistake that is becoming serial. Added to his stat sheet is one fumble that stunted Tiger momentum after a key LSU defensive stop on a fourth and two in the second quarter.
"Coach having confidence in me says a lot about me and the offense," said Addai. "He could have easily just started passing the ball."
He speaks from first hand experience.
In the Tennessee game, Addai had another fumble. But that time, he was punished by being benched. He was only an observer for the next few series.
He saw the offense become pass happy as Justin Vincent struggled to make the same mark as Addai on the ground.
"He gave me a chance to show what I could do this game and I feel good," Addai said. "Even though we had a few mistakes."
The reason that head coach Les Miles did not resort to the same tactics as the Tennessee game might be because he has adopted a new attitude.
"We work on ball security for ten minutes everyday," said Miles. "It has to come from within the guy who has the ball. It can not be an external motivation. It can't be the coach teaching him how to hold the ball. It has to be in his heart to carry the football."
Miles said the worst punishment for a player making mistakes may come when the team reviews the game together. He said, "Seeing how you hurt your team, in front of the team, may be the most significant."
That may not be the case for Addai.
His number was called 32 times in Saturday's game. Even with such a high number, Addai was ready to make the most of every carry. His longest run of the night was a 30 yard scamper giving him a 4.9 yard average per carry. Also, recalling last season's game against Florida, Addai was a formidable threat as a receiver.
He had three catches for 37 yards, continuing his streak of recording at least one catch in 13 straight games. Meaning that if you ask his teammates, they would probably excuse Addai's second quarter fumble.
"He is a playmaker," said Rudy Niswanger. "That is what they do. They step up and play in big games. He has done that two years in a row."
Also, Niswanger admitted that he appreciates Addai's tenacity.
"Anytime, you block for a guy that is going to run that hard, make a guy miss, or run over a guy, it makes your job easier," said Niswanger. "Not only that, but it makes your job more enjoyable when you can see somebody putting forth that kind of effort."
But the story remains that penalties and turnovers continue to hamstring the efforts of the LSU offense.
The remedies to this allergy towards the football are widely prescribed by the team as one thing: working harder and staying mentally sharp.
"You can not get frustrated because that will kill you even more," said Addai. "It is what you do after the mistake that will make you better."
And Addai exemplified this.
At halftime, he had 65 yards rushing and one fumble. In the second half, he threw in another 91 yards and a touchdown.
This seems like perfect contrition for his lone mistake.