LSU Silences ULL, 31-3

The statistics for both sides were similar, but the 31-3 score spelled a blowout victory for the Tigers.

Official Game Stats

Between Washington and Vanderbilt, the LSU football team’s two performances of 2009 left a number of questions unanswered.

Would coordinator John Chavis be able to turn the Tiger defense back into a dominant Southeastern Conference unit, and would offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s side find their identity?

The latter is still in question, while the defense made a statement for the second straight Saturday.

LSU held the Louisiana-Lafayette offense to 109 yards rushing and 163 yards passing, solid numbers for a unit that gave up 478 total yards to the Huskies in Seattle two weekends ago.

All the while, the offense remained in neutral.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson completed 16-of-25 passes for two touchdowns and an interception, while Keiland Williams and Charles Scott – the Tigers’ two leading rushers - combined for 106 yards without a score on the ground.

“We did not throw the ball efficiently, and I don’t think we ran the ball efficiently,” said LSU head coach Les Miles. “We made big plays. I want us to be better. We have struggled maybe where we shouldn’t.”

A common complaint through two games was that the Tiger offense had not gone vertical with their attack.

Jefferson had shown plenty of poise and control with his short-game approach, but the Tigers certainly would need to go deep if they hoped to contend with the big dogs this fall.

On Saturday, Crowton let everyone see what the LSU deep game was all about – and judging by the results, there is still work to be done.

After an 11-play, 40-yard drive where LSU came up empty out of the gate, Gerren Blount intercepted Jefferson’s first snap of the second drive on a pass over the top to Chris Mitchell.

Three straight times the Tigers had gone deep, and three times Jefferson came up empty handed on a poorly thrown ball.

“We are trying to hit some deep balls, but ULALA defended it,” Jefferson said. “They played the deep game well; we will just have to find a connection later.”

Behind two touchdown tosses to Brandon LaFell, Jefferson was pleased with his performance – for the most part.

“Other than the incompletions on the deep balls, I felt like I did good,” Jefferson said. “We had some third down scenarios that we continued the drive with. Tonight was my second start at home and my fifth overall, and I am getting really comfortable.”

While Jefferson won’t lose LSU many games with his current conservative, short-work attack, the lack of a running game might cost the Tigers when push comes to shove during the SEC grind.

Scott led the charge with 12 carries for 63 yards, while Williams added 43 yards on 10 touches. Jefferson kept the ball eight times for 34 yards, while freshman Russell Shepard carried it four times for 21 yards out of the Wild Tiger formation. Trindon Holliday added the lone score on the ground behind a two-carry, 14-yard outing.

Once again, no back went over 100 yards and Scott – the Tigers’ leading rusher in 2008 – has yet to run for a score.

“We have too many good runners to not run the football more efficiently, so that’s our quest,” Miles said. “We have the ability to make plays, but we’re not hitting on all cylinders just yet. We must run the football.”

The tone from the Tiger headman regarding his defensive side was much different.

The unit forced the Ragin’ Cajun offense to three punts and an interception in the first quarter, an opening statement that let ULALA know that the Tigers meant business.

By the end of the night, the visitors had managed just three points.

Judging by the words from the defensive side, even that was not good enough.

“I don’t even like that we gave up a field goal,” said sophomore safety Brandon Taylor. “We also gave up big run plays when they busted some up the middle on us. We got to get better, especially at tackling.”

Despite the unit’s “never-satisfied” approach, Miles called it like he saw it.

“I liked our defense,” he said. “I thought we played hard and tackled crisply and played the way an LSU defense is expected to play. I liked everything about it.”

After the Tigers and Ragin’ Cajuns traded possessions through the first couple of series, Jefferson hit tight end Richard Dickson for gains of 12 and 9-yards to set up a 16-yard passing touchdown to LaFell.

The Ragin’ Cajuns countered with a pair of first downs before quarterback Chris Masson was intercepted by Chad Jones at the LSU 39-yard line – his first of two picks on the night. The junior free safety returned the interception 38-yards to the ULALA 23-yard line – the final play of the first quarter.

In between the quarters, Trindon Holliday was recognized for his individual NCAA Championship in track and field. Moments later, Tiger Stadium was on their feet for the 5-foot-5, 161-pound senior once more as he took Jefferson’s option pitch into the end zone from 11-yards out for the 14-0 lead.

“It felt really good to hear the love from the crowd,” Holliday said. “To be honored and then score a touchdown right there together, it was really special.”

Masson then marched the Ragin’ Cajuns to their first points behind an 11-play, 61-yard drive that culminated in a Tyler Albrecht 40-yard field goal.

The teams traded possessions once more before the Tigers added a 52-yard field goal from kicker Josh Jasper as time expired, which extended the lead to 17-3.

It was not the knock down, drag-out performance that LSU had hoped to begin the game with, but it got the Tigers into the locker room with a double-digit lead.

“We were not pleased with how the first half played out,” Jasper said. “The field goal gave us a little added momentum, but we expected to come out and play a lot stronger.”

The Tigers opened up the third quarter with a 7-play, 58-yard drive that ended in LaFell’s second touchdown on the night, this time from 20-yards out.

Though the lead had been extended to 24-3, the need for improvement, according to LaFell, was evident.

“We got going really quick, but then we had a couple of drives that went three-and-out,” he said. “We came out in the second half and drove down the field and scored. We have to do a better job of getting into a rhythm and moving the chains. As soon as we’re able to do that consistently, we will be a better team.”

The Tigers followed up the possession with their biggest stand on the night.

After Masson moved ULALA 71 yards on 13 plays, the Tigers forced a fumble on the Ragin’ Cajuns fourth down attempt from one-yard out.

“They can get as many yards they want, but if they don’t translate to points then it really does not matter,” said defensive end Rahim Alem, who finished with a pair of tackles. “That is evidenced by the goal line stand.”

The Tigers added a 1-yard receiving touchdown from Jarrett Lee to Scott with less than six minutes to play to close the scoring out at 31-3.

While the offense never kicked into a rhythm, the defense certainly found their swagger as they held the Ragin’ Cajun offense to a fumble, punt and an interception in the second half.

If anyone entered the stadium doubting the defense, they left with a new outlook.

“We wanted a shutout, but we will take three,” Alem said.

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