Goal line stands highlight suffocating 'D'

Saturday night's game against North Texas was a challenge for two completely opposite goals for LSU. While the Tiger offense succeeded in putting a healthy amount of points on the scoreboard, the defense effectively prevented the Mean Green offense from entering the end zone.

The defense held North Texas to 206 total yards in the game, and only allowed three points on a difficult 50 yard field goal from kicker Nick Bazaldua.

No one player stood above the others in the game. Rather, the defense worked as a unit to stop North Texas from getting into the end zone.

The Tigers forced one turnover, but held North Texas on two critical drives that could have resulted in points.

Linebackers Kenneth Hollis and Cameron Vaughn prevented North Texas from scoring on fourth and goal from the Tiger's one yard line. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams also prevented points, blocking a 24 yard Bazaldua field goal attempt in the second quarter.

"It seemed like when it came down to a big time when we needed to make a play, we were able to do so," Williams said.

Williams' big play halted a 10 play, 73 yard drive by the Mean Green. Williams broke through the blockers and stretched his 6'2" frame to get his hand on a low kick.

"I saw something their line was going to do, and shot through the gap and blocked it," he said.

Despite not playing a conference opponent, the defense prepared for this game as it does for any other. Williams said there was no special preparation or mindset for playing North Texas.

"I don't think we really did anything different. We just geared up to stop the run firs, like we do every week," he said.

The Tigers also capitalized on another Mean Green miscue in the third quarter. Safety Craig Steltz intercepted quarterback Daniel Meager's pass on the LSU 13 yard line, stopping another possible scoring drive.

Defensive back Daniel Francis tipped the pass, landing in the hands of a dropped back Steltz.

"It just happened to bounce off and I was running toward the ball," he said. "My eyes, I don't know how big they were, but it was an unbelievable experience."

Steltz is no stranger to unbelievable experiences this season. Against Arizona State, he returned a mishandled punt for a touchdown.

He also led the team with six solo tackles and one assisted tackle against North Texas. Steltz, however, wants to keep his play consistent from game to game rather than having breakthrough performances scattered in the season.

"We've got to look at it game by game," he said. "Just get better each game."

One addition the Tigers had Saturday that they have been without the entire season is the play of linebacker E.J. Kuale. Kuale was injured in fall camp with an ankle injury but took the field against North Texas.

Kuale ended with two solo tackles, but his presence was well noticed by his teammates.

"We're excited to have him back and we're looking forward to his play for us down the stretch," Williams said.

Kuale used this game as a measure to see how his ankle held up in an actual game situation, and will continue to test it against Appalachian State. He ran every play with the same intensity and said his ankle felt better than he thought it would feel.

He said the injury weighed heavily on his mind because this year marks his senior season, but is excited about returning to the game.

"It felt real good," Kuale said. "Just being back in football feels great."

One problem for the defense that returned against North Texas was the large number of penalties. The Tigers had 12 penalties for 118 yards, and the defense shoulders many of those calls.

The defense was called twice for grabbing the facemask, once for a personal foul, once for roughing the passer, and once for pass interference. Although the end result is a victory, the penalties did not please head coach Les Miles.

"We have to change that behavior, period," Miles said.

Williams also showed his displeasure with the penalties he and his teammates have committed. He said although his teammates had the correct focus, they sometimes forgot to control themselves.

"It seems like guys are a little overanxious or want to hit that guy one last time and want to make to make a play," he said. "It's just things we have to work on. We have to get rid of that, especially coming down with these last few games we have to play.

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