Russell, Tigers click, Put Rebels away early

JaMarcus Russell rolled to his right—something he has become exceedingly comfortable with and extremely dangerous doing—and lofted the ball into the crisp Oxford night air.

Wide Receiver Craig Davis leaped over two Ole Miss defenders in the back of the end zone and snatched it for the score. The ball was so nicely thrown, the pork nachos vendor (yes, they sell pork nachos) watching helplessly in the first row of the South End zone at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium could have caught it.

LSU 9, Ole Miss 0, thanks to an earlier safety by the defense. The game was over at the 14:50 mark in the second quarter, but Russell and the boys decided to keep on playing—and play they did. The No. 4 Tigers pounded an undermanned Ole Miss team into submission and swaggered through The Grove with a 40-7 victory.

As the game wore on, Russell seemed to grow more and more confident. He attributes it to being more comfortable with the offense. "The more you play it comes to you like that, like going over and practicing," Russell said. Case in point: the Tigers face a third-and-20 on the Rebel side of the 50 while leading 16-0 in the third quarter. Russell, under pressure, stands in the pocket and finds a sliding Bennie Brazell for 25 yards.

First down.

Drive alive.

Russell followed that gem with an amazing ball fake that fooled the entire Ole Miss defense (and half the offense) and connecting on a 20-yard pass to Early Doucet streaking over the middle for his second touchdown toss of the night and a 23-0 lead. Russell finished the game going 13 of 22 for 142 yards and added two touchdown passes for the seventh time this season. He threw an interception for the first time since the North Texas game Oct. 29, but it could have just as easily been a long touchdown pass had Craig Davis held on, and not tipped it to the defender.

"(Ole Miss) had a great defensive team," said Russell, "and I think we just did some things that we were used to doing, so whatever you do best you gotta keep going on with it."

One thing LSU has done well all season is hand the ball to senior running back Joe Addai, an option offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher hasn't had at his disposal for much of the past three weeks. After netting his third-straight 100-yard game this season against Auburn, Addai suffered an ankle injury and was largely unused and ineffective in wins over North Texas, Appalachian State and Alabama, rushing for 7, 15 and 4 yards in those games, respectively.

"The ankle's still sore," said Addai. "I won't say it's sore from them tackling me, it was sore from all the pounding on it. But, who doesn't play hurt?"

If the Houston native was still feeling the effects of his sore ankle, it didn't show. Addai pounded away at the Rebels for 70 yards on 14 carries. How confident were the coaches in Addai's ability? Confident enough to load the entire team on that sore ankle and hand him the ball on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Addai made Coach Les Miles' gamble pay off as he shunned one would-be tackler and danced into the end zone, bad ankle and all. The coach took notice.

"It's nice to have Joseph Addai back running the football and looking like Joe," Miles said. He added that he still likes Justin Vincent.

Since you brought it up coach, isn't it nice to see the reemergence of Vincent as an integral part of the Tiger's game plan like he was when LSU made their magical run to the 2003 BCS National Championship? Watching No. 25 hit the hole for big gains stirs up fond memories for Tiger fans.

Vincent's prior plummet down the depth chart has been as staggering and inexplicable as the girl-to-guy ratio on the Ole Miss campus (which works out nicely in our favor, fellas). After a stellar freshman campaign in 2003, the Lake Charles product earned a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and seemed to have cemented his place in the starting lineup until he graduated or bolted early for the NFL.

To steal a line from ESPN's Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!"

Vincent lost the starting gig to Alley Broussard in 2004. When Broussard was lost for the season in 2005 with a torn ACL, Vincent would surely step into the starting role, right? Wrong. Addai had seen the bulk of the carries on his way to what would have been a 1,000-yard season until his injury stopped him for three games. Vincent has done a nice job plugging the hole while Addai was gone, leading the Tigers in rushing the three weeks Addai was sidelined. Vincent added 54 yards and a score against the Rebels. Together, Addai and Vincent proved to be too powerful of a one-two punch for the Rebels to handle.

"Me and Joe compliment each other pretty well," Vincent said. "Just getting that confidence back and able to get some more touches, I think things just come natural."

By the way, unless you're just visiting from another planet, or you're from Starkville, you probably noticed No. 3 Miami lost to Georgia Tech Saturday night? Thanks to that upset, LSU will certainly move up in the BCS with a chance to play leapfrog thanks to the SEC title game. I think I've seen this one before.

Miles is staying focused on the task at hand, though. "Our business is right in front of us," he said. "We just need to beat Arkansas."

If that happens the day after Thanksgiving in Tiger Stadium, Miles and the Tigers will have punched their ticket to another SEC title game—their third since 2001. A victory next week will also make Miles the winningest first year coach in LSU history. Bernie Moore led the 1935 Tigers to a 9-2 record and the SEC crown.

Who needs Moore, when LSU has got Les?

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