NOTEPAD: Crowton Breaks Down OSU Defense

NEW ORLEANS – Monday's BCS National Championship Game features two of the nation's top defenses.

Going into the game, Ohio State sports the nation's best unit while the Tigers are rated No. 3. One has to think something's gotta give.

Both Ohio State and LSU feature star-studded units as each team's defense is dotted with college football's biggest names. For LSU, it starts with all-everything defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey as well as all-American safety Craig Steltz. For the Buckeyes, it's the nation's best linebacker in James Laurinaitis as well as standout defensive end Vernon Gholston.

Needless to say, it isn't exactly an offensive coordinator's dream matchup, on either side.

LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton sits at the controls of the nation's 21st best offense, a unit which averages 448 yards and 37 points per game. Crowton, with an arsenal of weapons at his disposal, has spent the last month trying to figure out a way to crack the Buckeyes outstanding defensive unit.

"They're really good," Crowton said. "Looking at them, they know when to gamble defensively and they know how to gamble. They disguise things well. They have straight coverages, zone coverages off of their blitz looks and vice versa. And so you really have to be sharp, and we've really worked hard on them. At the same time, their personnel is outstanding. They're big up front, strong, they have speed and size in the secondary."

Crowton went on to sing the Buckeyes' praises before finally being asked to compare them to the speedy defenses of the SEC. Not wanting to get backed in a corner, Crowton simply stated the obvious.

"Number one defense in the country right now statistically," he said. "And I think they're outstanding. As far as -- I don't know what all 40 times and all that, but they look really good on film. And I give them all the credit."


LSU tailback Jacob Hester knows all about playing in the Louisiana Superdome.

Monday's game will be his third on the turf in New Orleans as an LSU Tiger. Hester played in last year's Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame as well as October's win over Tulane.

But Hester's affiliation with the Superdome predates his days at LSU. The Shreveport native played in three straight state championship games as a part of perennial prep powerhouse Evangel Christian. Hester and the Eagles won two of those contests.

"Well, being from Louisiana, your high school days, if you made it to the Superdome means you made to it the state championship means you were doing something good, it was always a big game," Hester said. "Any time you were in the Superdome for us in Louisiana, it's a big game no matter what the situation is. It's always special being down here. You always get a little jolt in the engine when you walk into the Superdome."


It's really easy to get caught up in all the chaos surrounding a game of this magnitude, but LSU offensive linemen Brett Helms and Ciron Black were all business of Friday.

"I mean, it's crazy," Black said. "Me, myself, I've never been in a situation like this. As a kid you grow up dreaming about stuff like this. You can never see yourself playing in a game like this. And now that it's here, I mean, it's kind of like a dream. But at the same time, you gotta wake up because you gotta play. Once the ball snaps, it's time to play."

The players are showered with media exposure, get carted from one meeting to another in a plush bus and get royal treatment at every corner. But Helms said despite the first class nature of playing in the BCS National Championship Game, it is all about winning the game.

"It's really a business trip, that's what it is," Helms said. "There's some fun early in the week and going out to eat at restaurants and all the BCS stuff. But when it comes down to it, it's about a football game and you gotta be prepared. And it's a business trip."


Like many Division I athletes, football was one of many sports at which they excelled at younger ages.

While an underclassman at St. Martinville High School, Doucet was a standout on the basketball team along with former LSU star Darrel Mitchell. As a sophomore, Doucet helped lead the Tigers to the 2002 Class 4A state championship.

But as Doucet continued to grow it became obvious he was more suited for the gridiron rather than the hardwood.

"Definitely all growing up, basketball was my sport," Doucet said. "I really didn't start playing football until I got to high school. And I kind of hit my growth spurt real early. So everyone thought I was going to be six-five and go to the NBA and all that kind of good stuff. But I got introduced to football in high school. Started hitting the weight room a little bit."

And as Doucet began developing his football body, his game on the court began to sag.

"My shot kind of got off and I kind of stopped growing," he said laughing. "So I sat down with my high school coach and we kind of looked at the options I had. And football was the option that I went with, and I'm very pleased with my decision. I don't really have any regrets."


It was no secret LSU was one of the most mistake prong teams in college football, no doubt among the upper echelon.

But the Tigers always managed to battle through its hiccups and come out on top. Penalties, miscues, dropped passes; all plagued LSU at some point or another throughout the season. But the players know when facing a battled-tested No. 1 team like Ohio State, mistakes like silly penalties could spell certain doom for the Tigers championship hopes.

"Well, I think eliminating some of the mistakes that we made early on throughout the season, the pre-snap penalties and just limiting those things," Doucet said. "And I think the team that makes the less mistakes will be the team that's victorious."

Left tackle Ciron Black said it's frustrating when the mistakes being made are simple things like procedure penalties and missed assignments.

"As far as missed assignments and stuff like that, that's something we can control," Black said. "There's no physical involvement in that. Missed assignments are key. If you miss an assignment, somebody is really going to pay for that. It can really hurt us going from 2nd and 5 to 2nd and 15. So if we eliminate missed assignments and stuff like that, I think we'll be fine."


"Half the time, to be honest, I really don't know who is in the game; because, you know, most time all I see is their helmets anyway because they're short."

- LSU left tackle Ciron Black on the Tigers using many different tailbacks

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