Some may have thought that a late touchdown by Auburn before the half would have deflated the Tigers and inflicted self-doubt with two quarters left to play.
But it was actually the complete opposite.
“I think we’ve done it so much that every guy on the teams believes it,” said senior center Brett Helms. “We’ve done it before so we know we can do it again. The biggest thing is we don’t panic. Some teams panic and start pressing and making mistakes but we stay calm and just continue our game plan.”
LSU’s game plan changed from the first half when it ran the ball on every first down. The backup quarterback was also forced into action and he had yet to complete a pass at the midway point of the third period.
But after leading LSU to 17 unanswered points, Helms knew that redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee had what it took to answer Auburn’s final score.
“We never say die around here,” said Helms. “That’s not LSU football. Jarrett proved that he could get the job done by the way he played when we came out of the locker room so we knew we were going to win.”
Entering the locker room there was undoubtedly some doubt amongst the Tiger faithful at Jordan hare Stadium and those witting around watching the game on ESPN.
But there was never any doubt in the minds of the players especially after the team leaders spoke their mind.
“It was one of those moments where you just have to look your teammates in the eye and let them know that everyone’s got each other’s back,” said senior defensive end Tyson Jackson.
“We always think it’s zero to zero so when we went out of the locker room for the third quarter we kept saying it was zero-zero and the game has just begun,” added Jackson.
Demetrius Byrd learned last year in his first season with the Tigers that it’s never too late to mount a comeback as he hauled in a Matt Flynn pass deep in the North end zone for the game winner with one tick remaining on the clock.
In Miles’ four seasons at the helm his teams have engineered 10 fourth-quarter comeback wins in his 37 victories. The Tigers feed off of their captain’s confidence and it doesn’t take long to trickle down the pipeline.
“You learn that real quick about coach Miles,” said Byrd. “He’s always telling you to keep your head up and telling us that we’re going to win. You hear that from a lot of coaches coming up but with coach Miles you have to believe it. All you have to do is look at the last two years.”
The disposition of knowing you are going to win is not something that every player has when he arrives at LSU as a young man.
But once they go through the Fourth Quarter Program that Strength and Conditioning Coach Tommy Moffitt has set up it teaches them how to prepare mentally, as well as physically, for the grind.
Moffitt trains his players to get stronger as the game goes on and he doesn’t only preach it but he also lives it.
“A lot of teams don’t prepare themselves physically and mentally for a four-quarter game and we come out and we’re in shape,” Scott said.
“The main thing you hear from him in the fourth quarter is finish,” Scott added. “That’s one of our mottos around here and it’s finish. Everything you start, you finish. When we get into the fourth quarter and we hold up the four’s (fingers) for fourth quarter he is preaching finish, finish.”
And when it gets late in the game Moffitt does a little more than just preach it.
“He’s getting everybody fired up and you can see it in his eyes,” Byrd said. “He looks like he wants to put on the pads and get out there with us.”