Coach Sylvester Croom Post-Game Comments

"I told our players in the half I thought it was the best we've played this year. I thought we played hard, there was a lot of passion and commitment throughout the course of the ball game. We got better at a lot of things, I want to look at the film before I cite any, but the passion and the commitment to the way we played was something we haven't seen in all three phases this year."

"Sometimes we didn't play as smart as we'd like to or with the discipline I thought we should have, but overall we played very hard and got better as a football team. The key for us right now is we have to continue to prepare like we did this week."

"Our practices were excellent all week. We have to continue to prepare with the same commitment we did this week and then we've got to continue to execute better. Which we did in this ball game. And play with the same passion and enthusiasm throughout the course of the ball game like we did tonight, and I think we can win some ball games."

What was the decision to start Tyson Lee over Wes Carroll? "Tyson had excellent practices this week. Tuesday in my observation he really started to understand exactly what we're doing, where to go with the football, he threw the ball extremely well and executed the offense. From where I was on the sideline tonight it looked like he did the same thing in the game. I liked his tempo, I liked the way he was in command throughout the course of the game, and made some excellent throws."

"The thing he did tonight that he hadn't been doing, that I was very pleased with, when things broke down he was very decisive about what he was going to do; whether he was going to throw it away or pull it down and run. In the first game he played and even last week sometimes there was a lot of lateral movement. Tonight he attacked the line of scrimmage with the ball up in a position to throw, and when things weren't there he pulled it down and ran and got some first downs. He kept some drives going, he was very aggressive, I thought he was smart."

"Tuesday's practice was when I really started thinking about it, because of his performance. Wednesday's practice after an excellent job again that's when I made the decision we were going to start him."

This was the best you've played all year, was that something you saw coming all week? "No question, this was the best week of practice we've had. This was the first time that throughout the entire week, both sides of the ball and the kicking game, all three phases made significant improvement in practice this week. I was really pleased, I thought guys stood up and took accountability for some of the things we didn't do well in the previous game. They came back out this week committed to doing it. We've got some character kids and I'm pleased with that, they showed tonight they'll keep fighting and battling. But we really moved forward in practice this week."

Were you worried about starting Lee in this game? "No. I wasn't because of what I saw in practice this week. He had an air of calmness about him. For the first time this fall it looked like he was totally confident in everything he was doing."

Take us through your thoughts just before halftime. "Well, it was pretty much the same situation we were in last year. In fact I told the guys around me I can't believe we're in the same spot we were in last year just before the half. I said I'm not going to make a decision that's going to get us in trouble. I felt like going into the half, as long as we didn't turn the ball over right there, if we come back out and stop them on defense the first drive then we've got a chance to move the ball. We were moving the ball well on offense, but what I was trying to do was get the ball over the 50-yard line; if we got it over the 50 then we were going to take some shots, we had some timeouts left. But I wanted to make sure if we did take some shots that there wasn't going to be enough time on the clock for them to do anything and get another touchdown before the half. We were in almost exactly the same situation before halftime last year, we threw a pass on the first play; it got intercepted and they returned it and the game was over before the half. I wasn't going to make the same mistake again."

With all that's gone wrong was there some relief when Derek Pegues broke the first return? "We returned the kickoffs pretty well. I thought he had a chance, we had great field position there."

"And we were feeling them out on some different things. We actually ran the ball better right at them than we really thought we could, even though we had some things in there we thought we were going to have to spread them out a little bit more to run the football. But our guys came off on the ball. We had a couple of unusual formations in there that gave them some problems. Then we threw the ball well in the second half. We threw the ball quick, got it out fast because we knew we couldn't sit back and hold the ball forever against them. That defensive front is an excellent pass-rushing front, and we had some things going there."

"They took it right down the field on us the first drive of the second half. Then a key play, right there at the end we had a dropped ball up the sideline that would have been a huge, huge play for us. That would have given us a chance possibly to get an on-sides kick and still have a chance to win the game at the end."

They were able to complete some passes over the middle. "Well, they did. What I said earlier about us playing hard and sometimes not playing smart, that was some of the things we didn't play smart on. Their receivers are good, you have to acknowledge that. But there were times we should have been in ‘bump' and guys weren't bumping; there were times we might be in an inside technique or something and we still get beat inside. That can't happen, we've got to be more disciplined about our technique and make sure that doesn't happen. And we've got to get pressure on them a little bit better. We've got to be able to get pressure with our front four without blitzing. When we blitzed we got pretty decent pressure on them, but when you blitz all the time to put pressure on that leaves those corners and safeties out there on an island by themselves. And they're guys are pretty good."

LSU has really dominated State in recent years, is this team just as good as those? "Believe me, their ranking is very deserved! Very deserved. And I don't see any drop-off from last year. Any at all. Their offensive line is as big as any line I was with the 17 years I was in the NFL. And it's better than most of them I was with."

Can you update the injury to Robert Elliot? "We don't know officially. It could be a problem, I'd rather not comment right now. But they didn't feel real good about it at this point. It was his knee."

State converted in one series on three third-downs, is that what you mean by the light going on? "Yes. Tyson knew exactly where to go with the ball. I always like to look at the film before I make a statement, particularly negative ones. But I didn't see the guy make a single bad decision as far as where to go with the football. At first I thought he overthrew a couple of fade-routes, then I look and he's getting up off the ground. I think he was just getting rid of it sometimes because he was under duress. But some of those, just the accuracy…the throws to (Christian) Ducre in the flat, everybody thinks that's an easy throw; that's a hard throw when a guy is running away from you at that kind of angle. He made perfect throws on those things. I've got no problem with the way he played tonight at all, and to be honest I thought he played a lot better than I thought he would."

Talk about how you used the three running backs. "We did it by personnel groups. A lot of it is based on the runner's style. When we're going right at them in a power running game 24 is going to be in there. But Elliot gave us some nice runs out on the edge, that's what he does best. We're just trying to take advantage of every resource we have as best we can."

LSU changed defensive coordinators, was it the same scheme tonight? "Yes, it was the same scheme. It's not a lot different than what Bo Pellini did. Bo was into a lot more of those exotic blitzes, he always was. Even when we were at Green Bay he liked all those exotic blitzes and came up with what I called the ‘blitz of the week.' He did when he was here. I think these guys now are more just let their guys play. They're sound, they don't ever turn a guy loose and leave a guy open. We tried to trick them a couple of times to get them to leave, particularly when we knew they were in man-coverage. We tried to get different formations and motions hoping they'd void a coverage. They were very disciplined. A lot of teams don't do that, as much as LSU plays man they don't, they stay with their people."

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