Flynn Turns Waiting Into Winning

NEW ORLEANS - By the fall of last year, Matt Flynn had proven two things as an LSU Tiger – if given a month to prepare for a bowl game opponent he could lead his team to a dominating victory, and he was patient.

After redshirting and watching Matt Mauck and Marcus Randall and then playing backup to JaMarcus Russell for the better part of his collegiate career, Flynn had shown that he was an expert at waiting. The 2007 season was his chance to prove he could do more.

In the early part of the season, an ankle injury threatened to keep Flynn off of the field. Against Middle Tennessee, it did, and Ryan Perrilloux led LSU to a 44-0 victory. Missing one game, any game, after waiting so long for his chance was agonizing for Flynn, more agonizing than any injury.

When he had to watch Perrilloux lead the Tigers again in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game because of a injury to his shoulder suffered in the last regular season matchup with Arkansas, Flynn said it was "one of the most difficult things in my life."

With the BCS National Championship on the line, after not being able to go against Tennessee, after all of the waiting, nothing was going to keep Flynn off of the field in New Orleans.

For a few moments last Monday night, it didn't appear that patience was going to be a kind virtue when it came to Ohio State. Facing a 7-0 deficit less than a minute and a half into the game, LSU's offense had what could be described as a nightmare first possession – a three-yard run for Jacob Hester, an incomplete pass from Flynn to Early Doucet that saw the quarterback hurried and would likely have resulted in negative yardage if caught anyway, and then a snap from Brett Helms that was unexpected and had to be corralled by Flynn for a loss of 17 yards.

"I don't think anybody got down about that," Flynn said. "It was just miscommunication. We were going on a verbal cadence at that point, and I was trying to make a check at the line of scrimmage and the center thought I called for the ball. It just wasn't clear. It was loud out there. It was crazy. So after that we went to a silent cadence where we wouldn't have any problems like that and everything worked out."

By the time Flynn brought the offense onto the field again with 9:12 still to go in the first quarter, the Buckeyes had increased their lead to 10 points. According to Flynn, however, it wasn't difficult for the Tigers to maintain the positive mentality they had started the night with, despite their early misfortune.

"Yeah, I think we had a feeling, you know, like we did at the beginning of the game," Flynn said. "I think this team is full of grown men, full of guys that have been there, guys that never say quit. And we are very stubborn. So when we're down we just don't think twice about it. We knew we could execute, and it was just like we got in rhythm. We stayed in rhythm. We started and we ended in it. It was a four-quarter game and we had a lot of time, just kept playing and kept moving along, just like we've done all year. And it showed that it came out tonight."

For Flynn, it showed with a performance that included a career-high four touchdown passes. He completed 19-of-27 passes for 174 yards with one interception, converted on third down conversions with short rushes, and completed his bid to be the game's offensive most valuable player with a five-yard touchdown pass to Richard Dickson with 1:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"I'm not worried about the MVP or anything like that," Flynn said. "I'm just extremely happy this team won, and I'm happy that we did it for this team, and this program, and these fans, because it's something we strived for all year. We're just extremely blessed to be here and to be national champions."

Following that nightmare first possession, Flynn led the Tigers to 31 unanswered points and, by halftime, was 11-of-15 passing the ball for 118 yards with two touchdowns. His second scoring toss of the first half, which came with 7:25 to go in the second quarter, gave LSU its first lead and the lead for good. It capped a 10-play, 66-yard drive that began its life thanks to a blocked Buckeyes field goal attempt by the Tigers special teams. On the play, Flynn found Brandon LaFell in the back left corner of the end zone for 10 yards and a score.

"Yeah, we line up there, empty formation, five wide. And it was just -- it was kind of a check at the line of scrimmage," Flynn said. "I saw that they were in zero coverage, which is no deep and strike man-to-man. So I called a play, a little roll-out to the left and got Brandon LaFell one-on-one on the corner out to the foul line and just had some underneath routes underneath it. And as soon as I saw the corner back outside jump the short route to the outside guy, Brandon was one-on-one. I know 95 percent of the time he's going to win that match-up. I gave a little ground and threw it to the pylon. He made a great play and a great catch."

In an age where transferring for playing time is rampant, Flynn elected to mature and grow by playing behind teammates whom could make him better. Instead of whining, he waited. Most importantly, he waited with the big picture in mind and prepared himself for his opportunity.

Because of that mentality, Flynn turned waiting into winning.

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