No. 2 LSU showcases run, clutch defense in win
Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 23, 2007
BATON ROUGE (AP) — LSU kicker Colt David played soccer most of his life.
Now Steve Spurrier and a multitude of football fans know David can make plays with his hands as well and his feet.
No. 2 LSU put one over on the Ol’ Ball Coach, scoring on a fake field goal and piling up 290 rushing yards to defeat No. 12 South Carolina 28-16 on Saturday.
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The fake widened LSU’s lead to 21-7 at halftime, deflating a South Carolina defense that had kept LSU within a touchdown on David’s 42-yard miss a drive earlier.
Next time, the Tigers set up from 32 yards, but the holder, quarterback Matt Flynn, tossed a no-look flip over his shoulder to David, who ran for the score with ease.
‘‘It was pretty close until then and that just put another dagger in them,’’ David said. ‘‘It always works (in practice). We felt confident with it. I’ve been playing soccer all my life, but I also can catch footballs.’’
LSU coach Les Miles said he only wanted to get a first down and took no special joy in using a trick play to beat Spurrier, a master of offensive trickery himself.
‘‘We would have liked to have gotten the first down without having to use that play,’’ Miles said. ‘‘It was there and it was certainly executed well.’’
Jacob Hester’s power and Trindon Holliday’s speed were key for LSU on the ground and its dominant defense did the rest with two interceptions and a pair of stops on fourth-and-short yardage situations. The Tigers’ hard-hitting defense unsettled Spurrier to the point he switched quarterbacks several times.
‘‘We had to try something different,’’ Spurrier said. Blake Mitchell ‘‘maybe didn’t do all that poorly, but we had to give (Chris) Smelley a chance. We’re going to give him a chance next week and see what happens.’’
LSU held South Carolina to seven points for most of the game, with South Carolina getting a field goal and late touchdown when the result was no longer in doubt.
There were heavy hits all over the field, including one in which Craig Steltz flattened Jared Cook to break up a long pass over the middle. Cook stayed down for a couple minutes before coaches got him up and off the field.
‘‘We just tried to dislodge them from the ball,’’ Steltz said. ‘‘If we can’t catch it, nobody can.’’
Meanwhile, Holliday wound up with a career-high 73 yards rushing, including a 33-yard touchdown, while Hester finished with 88 yards and a score.
The Gamecocks’ tandem of standout running backs, Cory Boyd and Mike Davis, combined for only 27 yards and one TD by Davis. Because of sacks, South Carolina’s net rushing total was only 17 yards.
Smelley ended up with the best passing numbers for the Gamecocks, going 12-of-26 for 174 yards and a late 1-yard TD pass to Kenny McKinley. He was intercepted by Chevis Jackson, while Danny McCray intercepted Mitchell to set up the fake field goal.
‘‘They are obviously a big strong team that controls the line of scrimmage,’’ Spurrier said. ‘‘We couldn’t run the ball very well at all. … We’re just not a real smart bunch right now.’’
Spurrier came in 11-1 against LSU, and early on it looked as if he still might have the Tigers’ number.
Mitchell bounced back from a couple of vicious sacks and, with the help of an LSU facemask penalty, he drove the Gamecocks to a 7-0 lead on Davis’ 1-yard run.
It was only the second score LSU had given up this season, and it was the first time the Tigers trailed in a game.
With the remnants of a tropical depression soaking Tiger Stadium, the field became sloppy and hindered the passing game.
Mitchell bobbled several snaps in shotgun formation and receivers for both teams slipped on cuts.
It was less of a problem for LSU, which subbed in Ryan Perrilloux for designed quarterback runs. The Tigers wound up with 217 yards rushing in the first half, Holliday with 61 and Perrilloux with 54.
There was nothing Spurrier could do, and he watched with increasing frustration as LSU piled up the yards. During LSU’s second scoring drive, he threw a note pad when Hester ran for 8 yards on third-and-3. When Keiland Williams bit off another 15 yards, Spurrier turned his back to the field, pulling off his headset as he paced anxiously and threw his hands up.
Those rushes set up Flynn’s 1-yard TD pass over the middle to Richard Dickson to make it 14-7.
Then came the fake field goal, on which Flynn had the option to abort and opt for a kick. He stuck with Miles’ original call when he saw the Gamecocks lined up as if they intended to go for the block.
Ironically, Spurrier wanted a more conservative field goal defense designed to snuff out fakes, but caved in to assistants, who were emboldened by David’s earlier miss and the wet conditions.
LSU ‘‘executed it perfectly,’’ said Spurrier, who would certainly know. ‘‘Give those guys credit for that.’’