LSU faced a 14-3 deficit at the half and to compound their problems the Tigers had to turn to their backup quarterback who was lacking confidence after seeing his final pass of the second quarter land in an Auburn defender’s mitts and then watch him gallop into the endzone.
Facing adversity, Jarrett Lee and the Tigers responded by putting 17 unanswered points on the scoreboard to take the lead.
That lead lasted for 8 minutes and 20 seconds until Auburn scored to go back on top but Lee responded with another clutch drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell with 1:03 left in the game.
The LSU defense held Auburn on its ensuing drive and the Tigers did something that no other LSU team had been able to do since 1998 - Win at Jordan hare Stadium.
Les Miles and his staff reviewed the film on Sunday before they moved ahead and started focusing solely on Sylvester Croom’s Bulldogs and a few things stood out to him upon further review.
“On offense, we really needed to be physical,” Miles said at his Monday press conference. “Their defensive front is a physical, very capable defense, and they run to the ball. They have great speed, and we really challenged our team to be physical, and I think you found that the offensive line certainly was.
“I think our fullback (Quinn Johnson) had a big game and contact,” added Miles. “I think our tight end (Richard Dickson) really matched up and won his physical matchup at his spot. I think our wide receivers were more physical than their secondary, and I really enjoyed the way that our offense performed. Certainly, our tailback added to that physicality.”
Everyone who saw the game will agree that Charles Scott had a big hand in the victory.
Scott had eight carries of at least nine yards or more with a long of 31, and he finished with 132 yards against a defense that came in giving up only 53 a game.
The junior became the first LSU player to have three straight 100-yard rushing efforts to open a season since Charles Alexander accomplished that back in 1978, and was the first LSU running back to eclipse the 100-yard mark at Auburn.
What was it that allowed Scott to do something no other LSU back had been able to do?
“First, I think he plays with a passion and an eager want for football,” Miles said. “I think he’s an aggressive man and competitive and he combines that with a big, strong offensive line in an offense that will use balance so they can’t gang up on him…..
“When that ball gets handed to the tailback, he goes north and south pretty fast, so I think there are some advantages to the style of offense that we play and the offensive line and tight ends are playing well. Certainly, it’s a team event when a back gets over 100 yards, but in my opinion it’s also due to the fact that Charles Scott is a pretty special back.”
The effort by Scott and the Tigers in the first two games had impressed Miles but what they did away from home and in a hostile environment on Saturday showed him a lot about his team
“Anytime you go on the road and you have to overcome adversity and you see how the team rallies to win, it tells you how competitive they are,” Miles said. “It tells you that they do have the ability to have poise and concentration about their job, and play it aggressively. I don’t think I can say it enough – they’re competitive. I think if you put a ball on the line and you want to play for it, you’ll find 11 guys in our building that will be there.”
A big come from behind win does wonders for a team’s psyche and maturation but Miles insists that there is still work to be done and everyone is in agreement on that front with Mississippi State looming.
“I think that this team is in a new position that they came off a hard-fought victory and a road win where we had not had success in the past….I don’t think there’s any guy on our team or coach that doesn’t believe fundamentally that we can really improve. As long as we take that approach and go this week and fix the things we need to fix this team will have some ability to do some special things,” said Miles.
Locker Room Talk
When LSU went into the locker room trailing 14-3 there were a few players who stepped up and had some choice words in getting the team ready to play LSU football in the second half.
“The locker room was just as it was supposed to be,” Miles said. “It would be fair to say that there was a lot of leadership that came out of that locker room, and Ricky Jean-Francois certainly was one. Any number of guys from Kelvin Sheppard to Herman Johnson, Ciron Black, Brett Helms, it was just a pretty comfortable resolve.”
LSU has now come from behind and won when trailing in the fourth quarter 10 times under Miles but the players get all of the credit.
“I think it comes individually,” Miles said. “I think there are leaders on our team that have been here through time and understand what it’s like to play from behind, and how important it is in a competitive league to be able to play from behind. I think that understanding becomes a collective understanding where the team anticipates that anybody that steps on the field in an LSU uniform will have a confidence and swagger about them that says ‘We can win.’”
Someone asked Miles if he thought that a Heisman Trophy campaign could be coming for Charles Scott but he would have none of that talk.
“To be honest with you, I think Charles Scott would be the first one to feel that we’re a long way from trying to proclaim national honors as a team or individual,” Miles said. “For me, to turn my attentions to campaigning for a national honor, not today. We have a lot of work to do.”