Hester Cements Place in LSU History

In 2006, USA Today reported that, according to the Social Security Administration, Jacob was the most popular name for baby boys for a seventh year in a row. After last Saturday night, it's a good bet that among Tigers fans the trend will continue.

Jacob Hester Boudreaux. Jacob Hester Thibodaux. Jacob Hester Smith. Jacob Hester Broussard. The possibilities are perpetual. Just like the motor of Jacob Hester himself, it seems.


Whether it was for 1 yard, 2 yards, 3 yards, or more, Hester provided a punch yet again for LSU's rushing attack against Florida. He set career highs for carries with 23 and yards with 106, and his fifth rushing touchdown of the season proved to be the game-winning score in the Tigers' 28-24 victory over the Gators.


"Hester made some of the key runs in the game for us – some that were length and some that were short," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "That one fourth down and short, it looked like to me if it weren't for a second effort, that wasn't it; that wasn't a first down. We go down to the goal line, and we give him the ball. It was some inspirational play by him. He's the leader of our football team – one of."


On its ninth and final possession of the game, LSU put together a 14-play, 60-yard drive that took 8:11 off of the game clock. Twice on that drive the Tigers faced a fourth-and-short situation, and both times Hester was called upon to pick up the yardage necessary to keep the drive alive. He didn't disappoint.


Four plays into the series, Hester moved the pile 2 yards for a first down at the Gators 49- yard line. He would do the same with the Tigers facing a fourth-and-one at Florida's 7-yard line. The second fourth-down conversion on the drive constituted the fifth time the Tigers attempted, and converted, on fourth down. A fake field goal, a quarterback option from the Gators 1-yard line, and a touchdown pass from 4 yards out made up the other three attempts.


"Coach Miles, I don't know if it's gambling or it's just confidence," Hester said. "The fake field goal – he didn't blink an eye calling the fake field goal or any of the first downs. Coach Miles believes in our technique and that's why we practice so long and hard. It's not really gambling. It's just that Coach Miles has confidence in our players."


That confidence certainly extends to Hester. Of LSU's 15 plays on its game-winning possession, Hester was called upon eight times to carry the ball. Of the 60 yards that the drive covered, Hester was responsible for 41 of them.


"Hester brings so much to the table, both emotionally and physically," LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith said. "He is just a dominant player and goes out there and makes plays when you need him."


Dominant is usually a term reserved for players on the defensive side of the ball or for a team's offensive front. And yet, that's how teammates like Highsmith view Hester. Apparently there is sound reasoning after all as to why Hester is listed as LSU's starting running back and fullback. Maybe he is that dominant. He certainly was against Florida.


After scoring what ultimately amounted to the game-winning touchdown, Hester was slow to get off of the field and a collective feeling of foreboding overcame the LSU faithful in Tiger Stadium. By all appearances, Hester seemed to have tweaked his knee on the scoring dive. As it turned out, it was all a ruse; just Hester attempting to do what he always does – what's best for the team.


"I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but I was so worried about my helmet being broken," Hester said of the touchdown. "Instead of having to waste a timeout, I was doing a good acting job. The referee came over. So I was having to hold my knee and wiggle."


Quick thinking.


It just so happened that Hester had gotten so much sand in his helmet that he couldn't get the chinstrap snapped. Like his helmet, Hester appears to be unbreakable. He showed up against Florida the way he has against every opponent, and that is why Miles called him one of the team's leaders last Saturday night following the game. As he is wont to do, Hester deflected the praise to those around him.


"I think you've got to play every game with the same attitude," Hester said. "It's an honor for him to say that, but every game's the same game. You come into it with the same attitude. A lot of guys led this team tonight, not just me."


The collective effort of leadership kept everyone from panicking, according to Hester. He and everyone else in uniform believed it would only be a matter of time before things started going the Tigers' way.


"Even at halftime we felt like we were moving the ball," Hester said. "There weren't any three-and-outs. We'd just do something – drop the ball, have a setback in a penalty – so we knew we could move the ball. Once we started getting on a roll and scoring points and the defense got us the ball back right around midfield, we kind of had a feeling we could go in and score and take the lead."


With confidence, not gambling, that's exactly what LSU did. That, according to Hester, is the way it always has to be.


"If you play college football big-time like this you've got to have determination," he said. "I mean, every player. You can't go out there and be half-hearted. You've got to be all-in."


There is no doubt this season or last Saturday night where Hester's chip stack lies on the table. Considering he is holding a full house of determination, confidence, toughness, strength, and ability, there's no reason he shouldn't be all-in.

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