Jackson, Taylor "Pick" On Buckeyes

The way things began for LSU's defense against Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game, some Tigers fans may have been wondering if Georgia coach Mark Richt was right.

During one news conference in the buildup to the Sugar Bowl, Richt offered his advice about whether Bo Pelini should have stayed around to be LSU's defensive coordinator in the title game after accepting the head coaching position for Nebraska.

"I wouldn't recommend it," Richt said about coaching two places at once.

After accepting the coaching position at Georgia, Richt stayed with Florida State to fulfill his offensive coordinator duties against Oklahoma for the title. The Seminoles lost, 13-2.

A mere minute and 26 seconds into last Monday night's title game, the Buckeyes rattled off a four-play, 77-yard drive for a score that saw Chris Wells knife through the heart of LSU's defense for a 65-yard touchdown run.

On Ohio State's very next offensive play from scrimmage, Brandon Saine was left wide open for a 44-yard pass that moved the Buckeyes down to the Tigers 15-yard-line which led to a field goal.

"I think we were a little too anxious," Chevis Jackson said. "We missed a couple of assignments. They hit the holes, ran to daylight, and made a play. After we settled down I think that was what made the difference. Coach (Pelini) told us nothing else. We were on the sideline, we were like, ‘Yeah. It's time to play ball now.'"

And so they did.

LSU stopped the bleeding. After scoring 10 points by the 9:12 mark of the first quarter, Ohio State was shutout until just 1:38 remained in the third quarter. Pressure from the front got things started, and the hands of the Tigers defensive secondary did the rest.

"That's every cornerback and safety's dream – to have a front four like we have with Glenn (Dorsey), Tyson (Jackson), and "Freak" coming back – Ricky (Jean-Francois) coming back made a big difference tonight. I mean, they put pressure on the quarterback and we just made the plays in the secondary."

Following a punt and a blocked field goal attempt, the Buckeyes fifth possession of the night was abruptly ended in three plays when Harry Coleman blitzed Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman and Jackson came down with an interception on the left side of the field that he returned all the way to the Buckeyes 24 yard line.

The pick came on a drive when Ohio State was trying to answer an LSU touchdown that gave the Tigers their first lead of the night.

"It's pressure defense. Coach (Pelini) called a blitz and Perry (Riley) got to the quarterback. I read at the line of scrimmage that he was going outside so I kind of gave him the press and ran with him. His eyes got big, so when the ball got close I just made a play on the ball."

Dorsey was just as complimentary of Jackson's ability to recover from missed assignments.

"That was big time," Dorsey said of Jackson's interception. "Chevis (Jackson) is the type of player who's going to overcome a lot of adversity. He doesn't get rattled at all. He came through with a big-time play for us tonight. I'm proud of him."

Five plays after Jackson's pick, LSU held a two-touchdown advantage. The Buckeyes would punt again before halftime and would do so again on their first possession of the second half.

Thanks to a Matt Flynn interception, Ohio State was given a short field on its next offensive showing, but even then the Buckeyes needed to convert on a fourth and four to score and used up over two minutes to get into the end zone at a time when the clock was starting to become more and more of a factor.

LSU's defense would come through by forcing a fumble on the Buckeyes next possession, and then it was time for the secondary to do its part once again.

Junior safety Curtis Taylor ended what had already been a seven-play drive by hauling in a Boeckman pass, setting up the Tigers final scoring drive of the night.

"They had ran that route on me a couple of times," Taylor said. "I made a great break on it and was able to capitalize with an interception."

In total, LSU forced three fumbles. Although the Tigers only managed to recover one of those, the idea of pressure was firmly planted into Boeckman's head, and it translated into the two interceptions that he threw. The impact was very big, according to Jackson.

"That's what Coach Pelini emphasizes – if we can get the ball, it's more possessions for our offense," Jackson said. "We got the ball back; our offense put the ball in the end zone."

All season long, and all bowl-season long, much has been made of the speed of the SEC as opposed to other conferences. That was particularly true of the Big Ten, considering the beating Ohio State took at the hands of Florida in the BCS National Championship Game in 2007. Against the Buckeyes, LSU wanted to show it could do more defensively than be quick to the ball, according to Jackson.

"We tried to be physical," Jackson said. "Everybody was saying we were just a finesse and speed team. We wanted to prove we can play physical and rough just like everybody else. I think that's what we did, and we came out with the ‘W.'"

Even though Jackson's assertion that the Tigers were physical is evident – Ohio State was 3-of-13 on third down conversions, despite averaging 6.3 yards per play – it was the good hands of he and Taylor and their interceptions that led to touchdowns and certainly helped make LSU's second national championship in five years possible.

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