Defending their honor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

BATON ROUGE &045; Like a school of sharks smelling blood in the water, the LSU defense sensed a measure of fear in Georgia quarterback David Greene in the Tigers’ 17-10 victory Saturday afternoon.

It showed, as the junior quarterback had more than 10 passes batted or broken up by the Tigers defense, and had his first interception in 176 consecutive passes, which tied a Georgia record.

Greene finished the night 20 of 44 for 314 yards and two picks.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I saw (Greene) starting to go through the motions and things like that,&uot; LSU defensive end Marcus Spears said. &uot;I thought we hurt his knee and put a damper on him, but yet we still knew he was a good quarterback.&uot;

Greene had only thrown for 180 yards through more than three quarters when, under a heavy rush, he backpedalled in his own end zone and found Tyson Browning on a screen pass.

Browning made like former Tiger great Billy Cannon on Halloween night in 1959, running up the visitor’s sideline for the tying touchdown with 4:25 left to play.

&uot;We wanted to come out and confuse and hit him,&uot; said cornerback Corey Webster, who locked the win with an interception on the Bulldogs next drive. &uot;It worked too, because the front seven hit him in the mouth, and he started ducking after that.&uot;

RISE UP &045; The victory over the previous No. 7 Bulldogs catapulted LSU into the seventh spot in both The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls, which came out Sunday.

Both are the highest in-season rankings of an LSU team since Sept. 28, 1998, when the Tigers were No. 6 after a 3-0 start. Ironically it was No. 12 Georgia that came into Baton Rouge later that week and upended LSU, 28-27.

Overall, the marks are the highest positions since the end of the 2001 season, where the Tigers finished No. 7 in the AP and No. 8 in the coaches polls.

That was the year LSU won the Southeastern Conference title and leveled Illinois in the Sugar Bowl, 47-34.

&uot;I can’t tell you how proud I am for all the people who are responsible for getting these football players here,&uot; LSU head coach Nick Saban said. &uot;It’s a great win for those who support the program.&uot;

Georgia dropped out of the top 10 to 12th in both polls.

ODDSMAKER? &045; In his postgame press conference, a reporter asked Saban whether or not he thought receiver Skyler Green was going to be able to catch up to the eventual gamewinning touchdown Matt Mauck threw with 1:22 to play.

Saban, in a uncharacteristic jovial mood, responded: &uot;What I look like Jimmy the Greek? I kept looking, looking and looking because I knew how fast our man (Green) was. I was happy I didn’t have to decide whether to kick a field goal or whatever on fourth down.&uot;

That stemming after freshman placekicker Ryan Gaudet had his 48-yard attempt stuffed at the line of scrimmage by Georgia’s Sean Jones earlier in the quarter.

It was the second field goal Gaudet, a redshirt freshman from New Orleans, has had blocked this year. On the season, and consequently for his career, Gaudet is 2 of 5, with both successful makes coming from 47 yards.

His counterpart, Georgia kicker Billy Bennett, who is a Lou Groza Award candidate for the country’s best kicker, came into Saturday 7 of 8 for the season and as the most accurate kicker in Bulldog history (78.75 percent).

However, after making his first try from 33 yards, Bennett missed his last three kicks &045; a first &045; from 36 yards or more, with the final bid clanging of the right upright.

HURRICANE NICK &045; With Hurricane Isabel leaving her mark along the eastern shore last week, Saban shared with his team his first experience with a Louisiana pastime in pregame pep talks.

Like most of Saban’s stories, this one related to football too.

&uot;I had six trees blow down in my yard because of a Hurricane last year because the roots weren’t very deep,&uot; he said. &uot;I told the guys today we were going to find out how deep our roots are. ‘If you compete we’ll stay standing like some of those pretty trees around here.’&uot;