LSU Tigers: Tigers-Tigers-092212

LSU hopes to learn from sloppy Saturday

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
10:28
AM ET
 

AUBURN, Ala. -- Walking into LSU’s locker room at halftime gave Sam Montgomery a sick feeling inside.

But it wasn’t because his team was trailing 10-9 to what seemed like an overmatched Auburn team. Montgomery was upset at the long faces and disgusted by the hanging heads that followed him in.

“I’ve seen that before and I refused to have it again,” LSU’s junior defensive end said.

So, like any good leader, Montgomery stood up and addressed his teammates. He urged them to wipe the despair from the faces and expunge the negativity. The game was ugly, but Montgomery reminded players -- and coaches -- that these are the games LSU lives for.

Too close for comfort is something LSU and its head coach have thrived on for years, and to have a rough half spoil a night in Jordan-Hare was unacceptable.

“It’s one of those things where I know being a veteran guy that I’m going to go and give my all,” Montgomery said. “I just need somebody to come with me. And those guys really listened to me.

“That was a great point and time for our team to grow up and be men.”

And for the next 30 minutes of play, the Tigers did grow up, as they shut out Auburn and walked away from Pat Dye Field with their spirits soaring after a nail-biting 12-10 victory.

It’s very cliché, but all championship-caliber teams have these sluggish, uncomfortable games that serve as a pick-me-up.

Saturday night was LSU’s pick-me-up.

It was ugly, sloppy and uncharacteristically bad for a team that has real hopes of making back-to-back trips to the national championship game. But it wasn’t a loss, and it should motivate LSU.

Especially because execution, not talent, was the issue.

There was the opening drive that went 56 yards down to Auburn’s 2-yard line that ended with a Zach Mettenberger fumble. Then there was the second fumble by Mettenberger on the ensuing drive that almost ruined Montgomery’s safety after fumble No. 1.

[+] EnlargeSam Montgomery, Kiehl Frazier
Shanna Lockwood/US PresswireSam Montgomery -- after a halftime speech to LSU teammates and coaches -- brings down Auburn quarterbac Kiehl Frazier.
After Mettenberger’s second turnover, LSU’s offense basically went into hiding, and the mistakes and miscues shined brightly.

At halftime, LSU had three penalties. By the end of the game, the Tigers had committed nine for 80 yards. They weren’t even tolerable ones, as Les Miles called them “knickknack.” They were careless and either gave Auburn hope or stalled what looked like promising LSU drives.

If penalties weren't hurting the Tigers, engineering plays was. When big runs seemed to ignite LSU’s offense, wild passes, drops or more penalties killed drives. After LSU’s Drew Alleman hit the go-ahead field goal early in the third, LSU mustered just 84 more yards on its last four drives.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in, but we were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” said wide receiver Kadron Boone, who led LSU with three catches for 49 yards. “We have to correct those mistakes because they can hurt us in the back end of the schedule.”

And Boone's right.

Against Auburn, miscues helped a struggling team feel like it could upset the No. 2 team in the country. Against another ranked SEC opponent, they could cost LSU a win.

This team is too talented to let silly mistakes and a lack of poise, as Miles put it, get in the way of wins. A lack of execution irked Miles, but the penalties upset him, and he knows those can break any team in key situations.

“I promise you that’s something we gotta fix,” Miles said.

But with a grind-it-out, grit-your-teeth win like this, there are some positives. Miles' team grew and won a tight game in a great SEC atmosphere on the road.

That goes a long way in the confidence department, and heading into the meat of the SEC season, it served as a wake-up call for Miles' Tigers.

“It’s a tremendous lesson for us,” Miles said. “It’s something we’ll certainly be able to teach from in a very aggressive manner.

“Not perfect. Work to do, but we’ll take a victory on the road at Auburn.

“This is a place that tests you and I am pleased. That’s what we needed to have happened.”

LSU pass rush likes big-time opponents

September, 23, 2012
9/23/12
12:55
AM ET
AUBURN, Ala. -- LSU's pass rush evidently would rather face BCS-level opponents than mid-major opponents.

LSU had four sacks of Kiehl Frazier in Saturday's 12-10 win over Auburn, including two by dime back Micah Eugene, who leads LSU with three sacks on the season.

For the season, LSU has eight, all against its two opponents from BCS automatic-qualifier conferences. The first four came in the Tigers' 41-3 win over Washington. In wins over Idaho and North Texas, LSU was held without a sack.

Defensive end Sam Montgomery had his second sack to go with 3.5 tackles for loss. Anthony Johnson also got his first sack of the season.

Instant analysis: LSU 12, Auburn 10

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
11:09
PM ET


No. 2 LSU entered Jordan-Hare Stadium as a 20-point favorite Saturday night against Auburn. Instead, the Tigers escaped by the skin of their teeth with a 12-10 victory.

Here's how it transpired in a classic, defensive SEC nail-biter on the Plains.

It was over when: LSU cornerback Tharold Simon intercepted Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier on a fourth down desperation heave to end Auburn's bid at a last-second miracle win.

Game ball goes to: LSU running back Spencer Ware announced his return to college football with a hard-nosed night in place of injured starter Alfred Blue. Ware beat up on Auburn for 90 hard-earned yards on 16 carries. He also caught two passes for 44 yards, one of which was a 33-yard gain on a crucial third and four late in the fourth quarter.

Game ball part II: You probably won't see a better performance from punters this season. LSU punter Brad Wing booted eight balls on the night for 338 yards -- a 42.3-yard average -- with three of those falling inside the Auburn 20. Auburn punter Steven Clark knocked seven punts of his own for 287 yards -- a 41-yard average -- with two of his punts downed inside the LSU 20.

Key stat: LSU committed nine penalties for 80 yards, several of them coming in dead-ball situations. The Bayou Bengals committed two costly turnovers in the first half, but they bounced back to force three Auburn turnovers in the second half.

Key stat part II: LSU scored its only touchdown of the night with 4:18 to play in the first quarter -- a one-yard run from running back Michael Ford. Auburn held the Tigers out of the end zone for the next 49 minutes of play after that.

What it means: This was LSU's first big test of the season -- the Tigers' first SEC game and their first trip outside the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium. To say they didn't live up to the No. 2 ranking is an understatement. The Tigers played ugly, and their offense at times displayed the same problems that limited LSU in 2011. That said, the LSU defense did its part by holding Auburn to a mere 183 yards of offense, and the Tigers got the all-important win.

Auburn showed resiliency in fighting to the end after a disappointing 1-2 start to the season. But moral victories don't count for much in the SEC, and Auburn is now an ugly 0-2 in SEC play. Frazier looked better than he did against Mississippi State, but he still only threw for 97 yards and threw two costly picks.

Auburn with two lineup changes

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
7:23
PM ET
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn has made a couple of changes to its lineup for tonight's game against No. 2 LSU.

Freshman offensive lineman Patrick Miller is getting the start at right tackle over fellow freshman Avery Young. Also, sophomore Jonathan Mincey will start in place of junior Chris Davis at cornerback.

A lot will be expected from Miller, as the Tigers' offensive line has struggled with consistency through the first three games of the season. Miller's play on the outside will be key as Auburn tries to work more runs away from LSU's talented defensive ends.

Both teams have run out on the field, and the Auburn fans seem pretty jacked for this one. I just heard the three most power/famous notes in all of college football erupt from LSU's band. Remember, crazy things happen when these two teams meet and the lights go on ...

Welcome to Auburn

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
6:10
PM ET
AUBURN, Ala. -- Greetings from the Plains.

It's a hot one out here, even though it's technically fall. But that's the South ...

Props to Auburn's student section for coming out early and coming out fired up. While I was walking around this town and eating at Momma Goldberg's, I didn't get much of a positive vibe from Auburn fans. People who I talked to seemed to be hoping for more of a good effort from their Tigers than a win over No. 2 LSU.

But the students flooded the student section as soon as they were let loose inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Good for them.

Hey, crazy things always happen in this game.

On paper, things certainly aren't in Auburn's favor. LSU pounds the ball with its running game and pounds opponents up front with its defensive line. LSU entered the day with the SEC's best rushing game and defense. The Bayou Bengals like to pressure the quarterback, and that isn't good for Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who has struggled mightily through the first three games of the season. He has to play with more confidence, but he'll have his hands full with the likes of Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan up front.

If Auburn is going to pull the upset, its offense has to generate some sort of running game in order to open things up for Frazier. The problem, however, is that LSU doesn't like to give up rushing yards. Through three games, LSU has surrendered just 141 rushing yards.

To put that in perspective, LSU has scored 145 points on the season.

If Auburn wants to have a chance in this game, it has to toughen up on both offense and defense. Coach Gene Chizik has stressed just how physical this team has to be week in and week out in the SEC, and through three weeks, these Tigers just haven't been tough enough.

That has to change this evening.

Video: LSU-Auburn pregame

September, 22, 2012
9/22/12
6:09
PM ET

Edward Aschoff and Gary Laney discuss the matchup between Auburn and LSU.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Intriguing SEC bowl games
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12