LSU-ULL Game Notebook

At 5-9, 189 pounds, one wouldn't exactly refer to Skyler Green as an intimidating figure. Despite the size of his frame, however, Green's shadow looms large for the Tigers' special teams in 2006. Last season, LSU returned a total of 29 punts. Green accounted for 27 of them and amassed 359 yards when he didn't call for fair catches.

Former Tiger Shyrone Carey and current Tiger Jacob Hester fielded the other two punts. Green was also responsible for 355 yards on 18 kickoff returns.


Now that Green has moved on, LSU is left searching for a return specialist who will be able to set up the offense with prime field position. Against UL-Lafayette, the Tigers' heir-apparent failed to completely distinguish himself.


LSU's special teams suffered a bit of drop-disease last Saturday as the Tigers lost the handle on two punts and the kickoff to start the second half. Chevis Jackson and Trindon Holliday each had problems holding onto punts, while Early Doucet fumbled the kickoff to start the second half. Doucet was the only Tiger who managed to recover his loss.


"We cannot turn the ball over as a punt returner," LSU Coach Les Miles said. "Those two mistakes we can't make again. We need to get that fixed."


Daniel Francis was the third LSU player to field a punt. Francis, Jackson and Holliday combined for four returns for a total of 29 yards, an average of 7.25 yards per return. By contrast, Green averaged 13.3 yards per punt return in 2005 and 19.7 yards per kickoff return.


Despite the Tigers' woes on returns, Miles remains confident in the players called upon against UL-Lafayette.


"I still think that Chevis Jackson is very sound there," Miles said. "I have no problem with him returning punts. We'll probably get some other guys going in the punt return game. I think that Daniel Francis really looked good. We wanted to get Trindon some snaps. We're trying to get him comfortable on the field."





For the first time since LSU's season opener in 2002 against Virginia Tech, the Tigers actually started the first game of a football campaign as scheduled. In 2003, LSU's opener with UL-Monroe was delayed due to lightning. In 2004, the Tigers and Oregon State had to wait out unwanted electricity as well. Last year's scheduled first game for LSU with North Texas was pushed back because of Hurricane Katrina.





Due to LSU's usage as a triage center last year, Public Address Announcer Dan Borné's traditional uttered phrase as the Tigers rush out onto the field was modified. For years Borné had proclaimed, "It's Saturday Night in Death Valley!" The moniker was modified to "It's Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium!" for the 2005 season. To start the 2006 season, Borné revived his standard introduction and would later impart, "It's back."



21-0 AND 957-22


Regardless what initials they've used, the Ragin' Cajuns still have never defeated the Tigers on the gridiron. In a series that dates back to 1902, with just two games being played since 1938, LSU has outscored UL-Lafayette by the gaudy total of 957-22 and now holds a 21-0 advantage in wins and losses. Prior to last Saturday the Ragin' Cajuns hadn't scored against LSU since October 4, 1924.





When JaMarcus Russell connected with Dwayne Bowe for a 28-yard strike with 54 seconds to go in the first half, he became the first LSU quarterback to throw for three touchdowns since Matt Flynn connected for three scores through the air against North Texas last season. Russell, who connected on 11-of-15 passing in the first half, threw for 213 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown pass to Craig Davis on a third and six for LSU's first score of the 2006 season.  The Tigers' starting quarterback would return in the third quarter to lead LSU's first drive, a 10-play, 73-yard affair that saw him connect on 2-of-2 passes for 40 yards. 





Four-time NBA World Champion and LSU legend Shaquille O'Neal made an appearance at halftime with University Chancellor Sean O'Keefe. O'Neal, who enveloped O'Keefe with an extended hug that lasted for around five yards, received the first newly issued LSU license plate and a football jersey with his retired No. 33 and name gracing it.


"I didn't think I was going to be able to keep my balance," the over six-foot tall O'Keefe said of the embrace afterwards. "It was the first time in my life I felt like a little person."

O'Neal returned to Baton Rouge to speak to student-athletes, visit some capital city neighborhoods and impart some of his wisdom to the area's children.


"I just wanted to come here and talk to the students and touch on some important issues – education, responsibility and stuff like that," O'Neal said previously.

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