As the punter lines up, all eyes are on LSU's Skyler Green. His explosive returns and game changing abilities are becoming legendary throughout the Tiger community. But all year one thing has alluded him: a touchdown return.
That changed Saturday night early in the first quarter. Green fielded a punt by Kody Bliss and went 66 yards on the return to give LSU an early 7-0 lead.
"Our guys blocked the way they were supposed to," said Green. "It is all the guys up front blocking. Once I see a seam, I just take it. It has been a long time coming this year."
Many figured it was only a matter of time.
"Skyler has almost broke about five this season," said Chase Pittman. "It is about time he actually broke one. He was due to put one in the end zone."
Kyle Williams agreed.
"Everybody has been waiting on that one. It seems like he has been a hair away a couple of times this year. He got in there and did a great job."
A job that has been highly heralded and well deserved.
In 2003, Green averaged a NCAA leading 18.5 yards a return and was named first team as a return specialist by both ESPN.com and SI.com. In 2004, he suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season and it gave him fits all year.
Coming into this season, Green was at full strength and many were wondering if he could match the numbers he put out in 2003.
Early in the year, he seemed to be
well on his way. He was in old form against
Then, last week against
This week, everyone expected much of the same, including Green. But he was ready if they did decide to test him.
"I thought they would kick away
from me at the start of the game like
Head coach Les Miles was not as surprised because he said that anyone that has confidence in their unit would want to test their opponent. But he was also happy that they kicked it for another reason.
"Skyler put the pressure on them early."
It also added a boost to a defense that was on the field for 10:15 in the first quarter.
"We always know Skyler is going to come out and get a really good return, if he does not take it to the house," said Pittman. "When he steps on the field, good things are going to happen."
Green was in three different categories Saturday night. He had five catches for 27 yards and one run for 17 yards.
"He is great at returning, a great receiver, and an all around great athlete. He could probably play defense if he wanted to," said Pittman.
All other things aside, his return was the story. It marks the fourth punt returned for a touchdown in his career and also sets a new school record. That 66 yard return gives him 973 career yards on punt returns. That is good enough to pass Eddie Kennison for second place on LSU's career punt return yards list. Domanick Davis holds the record with 1,126.
Do not discount Green's chances of breaking it.
After the game, he recalled how much he liked scoring.
"That was a big monkey off my back," said Green. "Now, I am looking forward to a lot more (touchdowns)."
But to understand just how dangerous Green is on returns, let one of the nation's leading punters explain.
"I would be scared and
probably do the same thing they did (angling punts to the sidelines)," said