Early blitz helps Tigers maul La. Tech

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

BATON ROUGE &045; Country came to town Saturday night. And, as usual, the bright lights and glam of the big city was blinding.

There won’t have to be much arm-twisting if the Ruston faithful are told to wait another 62 years before caravanning again to LSU.

Louisiana Tech, figuratively and literally, looked like it just got off the bus in a dark alley and was abruptly welcomed to the metropolis of Death Valley with a 49-10 mugging.

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&uot;The way we’re playing right now is how I imagined we were capable of playing every week,&uot; Tiger head coach Nick Saban said. &uot;We did a good job of mixing and balancing the offense, especially early in the game.&uot;

This isn’t Hollywood. This wasn’t &uot;Hoosiers&uot; or &uot;Rudy.&uot; There was no way the mighty Tigers were going to let the little pups to squeeze anything feel-good about this stark reality show.

With the exception of a Michael Clayton fumble Tech recovered early in the first quarter to thwart another drive in Bulldog territory, LSU made the Bulldogs earn their $400,000 paycheck for the visit by pummeling relentlessly on both sides of the ball in the first half.

The Tigers scored on six of their first seven offensive drives. Bulldog quarterback Luke McCown’s gaudy passing numbers was billed as the one to watch heading into Saturday. However, it was LSU signal caller Matt Mauck who turned his evening into a video game, completing his first 14 passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns in the first half.

&uot;That was just a fantastic football team we played, and if they are not the best team in the country, I’d be shocked,&uot; Tech head coach Jack Bicknell said. &uot;We played Miami, and I promise you I feel like they are better than Miami.&uot;

Three of Mauck’s quartet of scores went for 34 yards or more, as he spread the wealth among a trio of receivers &045; Michael Clayton and Skyler Green each reeled in one, while Devery Henderson caught a pair.

It was effortless. Louisiana Tech’s pass defense, the worst in the country, was nowhere to be found. The Bulldog secondary routinely blessed the LSU receiving corps with 10- and 12-yard cushions, creating easy windows and passing lanes for Mauck to throw into.

&uot;After watching film, we knew (Tech’s) weaknesses were in the secondary,&uot; said Clayton, who finished with four catches for 85 yards, including the Tigers’ first TD with 11:17 in the first. &uot;This is one of the first times we’ve gone deep this much. But when you have the players and athletes to do it, you must take advantage.&uot;

That they did on both sides of the ball, as two first quarter interceptions McCown tossed led to scores.

On LSU’s homecoming night Ruston High alumni Jack Hunt and Kyle Williams got all nostalgic, each snagging a pick. Williams made a sliding grab off of a deflection caused. Four plays later Green climbed the ladder, like he was getting a plate off the top shelf of the cupboard, for an 8-yard touchdown reception to make it 21-0 with 3:19 in the first.

&uot;(McCown) threw a screen pass and it was one of those luck plays,&uot; said Williams, a sophomore whose previous experience was on the practice squad before 2003. &uot;This was definitely special to me to play against the hometown team (I) grew up watching&uot;

A Tech possession later Hunt was Johnny-on-the-spot, as a McCown pass slipped like a bar of soap through D.J. Curry’s palms and into Hunt’s mitts at the Tech 29.