Ridley the saving grace for LSU offense

Published 1:10 am Sunday, October 3, 2010

In a game where LSU once again got little to no quarterback play and once again had a coaching staff meltdown in the final seconds, the Tigers had just two things going for them — Tennessee’s lack of ability to count and Stevan Ridley.

And while most of the attention will be focused on the surreal ending to the game, with each coaching staff seemingly trying to out-dumb the other, much of it should also be focused on the junior running back from Natchez, who once again put the Tiger offense on his back and carried them to victory.

I heard a commentator say after the game today that LSU was the worst 5-0, top 10 ranked team he had ever seen, but the simple fact is, the Tigers are 5-0, and that is thanks to Ridley, who has gone from a fourth-string running back coming off a serious knee injury to one of the SEC’s leading rushers.

Email newsletter signup

Let’s face it, LSU doesn’t have a quarterback and coach Les Miles doesn’t seem to know which quarterback he even wants in the game.

Should he go with Jordan Jefferson, who has not even thrown for 100 yards in several games this season, or Jarrett Lee, who threw 16 interceptions in not even a full season two years ago and also had a drive-killing pick in the end zone on Saturday?

Who knows? But thank goodness Ridley is there in the backfield to bail out the Tigers.

Earlier this season against Vanderbilt, Ridley rushed for a career-high 159 yards, with most of those yards and a touchdown coming in the fourth quarter to lead LSU from a 10-3 nailbiter to a comfortable 27-3 win.

His performance Saturday was even better.

Ridley rushed for 123 yards against the Volunteers, and of course scored the game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know if Ridley would ever make it big for the Tigers after languishing deep on the depth chart his first two seasons.

But I’m happy to say he has proved me wrong.

Everyone knew Ridley was blazing fast, but he also runs with great power, especially for a runner who is less than six feet tall.

He hits the hole with a purpose and always seems to fall forward.

That made LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowden’s decision to send Jefferson back into the game to run a quarterback sweep with 30 seconds left even more confusing.

Ridley is in your backfield. Why not give the ball to him?

Fortunately for Tiger fans, Miles recovered from his clock-mismanagement stupor to call the play that won the game — a toss sweep to Ridley running left.

Ridley was met at the goal line, but true to his form, kept his feet moving and powered through the Tennessee defender to just get the ball across goal line for the winning score.

I knew as soon as Ridley took the pitch he was going to get in the end zone.

And those who have watched Stevan since his days at Trinity Episcopal had no doubt either.

So while there might be some angst in Baton Rouge over the direction of the LSU offense in the wake of another sloppy performance, those of us in Natchez know there is at least one thing the Tigers don’t have to worry about.

Just give the ball to Ridley and let him run.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor for The Democrat. He can be reached at sports@natchezdemocrat.com, or by phone at 601-445-3632.