When the halftime statistical sheet showed LSU with minus-11 yards on 12 carries, however, finding anyone to agree that the Tigers would finish the afternoon with over 100 yards on the ground would have probably been just as difficult.
A bevy of penalties and Matt Flynn's five rushes for negative-28 yards didn't help in the first half. Obviously, the fact that LSU had only 11 rushes entirely in the first half is more than enough explanation as to how the Tigers offense was performing. It took until the third quarter, but running back by committee finally took effect. In the opening moments of the fourth quarter, running back by committee, led by Charles Scott, ultimately parted the Green Wave.
"We wanted to get him some carries," LSU Head Coach Les Miles said of Scott. "He's too talented a back not to get some snaps; and boy, he came in and gave us a nice – couple nice real powerful runs."
One of Scott's more powerful runs came on a third-and-three from the Tulane 35-yard line when he avoided one tackle and then split two Green Wave defenders on his way to a score that helped put the Tigers ahead 27-9.
"He really came in and he did a good job," LSU running back Jacob Hester said. "I think it was third down and three, and he was just trying to get 3 yards, and he broke it open and that really helped kind of get us a spark in the running game. You know, that seems to happen every game. We'll have somebody come in on the running game, no matter who it is, and they'll provide a spark, and we don't care who it is as long as it happens."
Just like LSU's receiving corps, the Tigers backfield has relied on a different face to give it a boost from week to week. Prior to taking on Tulane, Scott's best showing this season was a four-carry, 21-yard performance against Virginia Tech. With his breakaway run, Scott bested his previous single-season rushing mark of 2007 by 32 yards. He would finish with six carries for 53 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The second would come with 8:49 remaining in the game on a 3-yard run. Scott's first score came with exactly 12 minutes to go in the final quarter of play, and he was certain the score was going to happen from almost the beginning.
"Once I got past the line of scrimmage, I pretty much – I saw it, so I went for it," Scott said.
Scott's no stranger to getting things done against Tulane. Ironically enough, his career highs for attempts (15) and yards (101) came against the Green Wave last year.
"I thought about it a little bit, but it wasn't really something that was on my mind," Scott said. "It was kind of in the back of my head. I just came out and said ‘I'm going to get mine wherever I can to give to my team.'"
It was that exact "take charge" attitude that LSU seemed to be missing for much of the first half. Running backs couldn't find holes on the very rare occasions that they had them, receivers couldn't hold onto balls, and linemen couldn't remember the snap count.
"When you start first-and-10 and then it's first-and-15 or it's second-and-20, it's an issue," Miles said. "When you're behind in the chains as regularly as we were, you throw the football a little bit more than you would have liked. And we had holding penalties. Penalties really slowed us."
Miles speculated that perhaps the Tigers offensive line "took for granted that they could block these guys." That's not something you take for granted, he added. Regardless of who the opponent is, he stated, the level of intensity has to be the same. Those are the points Miles seemingly reiterated during his halftime speech.
"We came into the locker room and we decided that we just weren't being physical enough," Scott said. "So Coach came in; he was like, ‘We're just going to run it. We're going to use every back we've got and run it.' And that's what we did."
According to Scott, it didn't feel so much like Tulane was dictating what the Tigers were doing as much as it felt like LSU simply was not executing. Sitting down at halftime, the Tigers realized they needed to renew their focus and "just tune in to the game plan."
Ultimately, LSU would rebound to rush for 145 yards in the second half – well below the Tigers' average coming into the game but fairly remarkable considering their first half woes. It was indeed a wakeup call, according to Scott; a reminder that week in, week out you've got to be ready.
"It was real big, because if you
look at the season ahead of us, we've got
The suggestion was made that perhaps the offense's difficulties in the first quarter were partly to blame because of the home game LSU has upcoming. Scott acknowledged that may have been part of it, but he fully expects that the Tigers' approach this week won't mirror what took place leading up to the tilt with Tulane.
Because of the 11 a.m. start time
against the Green Wave, Scott didn't have the luxury of knowing the Gators would
vacate the Swamp with their first defeat of the season. Figuring out how to stop
them and how to score on them will be a little bit easier with the game tape