BATON ROUGE -- LSU played Middle Tennessee Saturday without its starting quarterback and its best receiver. The Tigers didn’t miss a step though, as a combination of suffocating defense and a balanced offensive attack led LSU to a 44-0 victory over the outmatched Blue Raiders in front of 92,407.
In a testimony to its depth, second-ranked LSU, without quarterback Matt Flynn and wide receiver Early Doucet, amassed 505 yards of offense behind quarterback Ryan Perrilloux who spread the pass catching to 10 receivers on his way to completing 20-of-25, for 298 yards, three touchdowns and the first interception of the year thrown by a Tiger.
Jared Mitchell led all receivers with six grabs for 82 yards.
Meanwhile, the Tiger defense limited Middle Tennessee to just 90 yards of total offense, with almost half of those coming in the fourth quarter against second and third string players. Just a week ago, the Blue Raiders piled up 555 total yards against Louisville, the No. 8 team in the country at the time.
Blue Raider starting quarterback Joe Craddock completed just 6-of-11 passes for 59 yards while being sacked four times. He gave way, in the third quarter, to the more fleet-footed Dwight Dasher who completed just 2-of-4 passes but led his team in rushing with 30 yards on 12 carries.
LSU’s rushing attack was spread evenly too with eight ball carriers gaining positive yards and combining for 198. The Tiger defense held Middle Tennessee to a jaw-dropping nine rushing yards.
The win sets up a Southeastern Conference tussle between 3-0 LSU and 3-0 South Carolina next Saturday in Tiger Stadium. Middle Tennessee, 0-3, plays at its home stadium for the first time this season when it hosts Western Kentucky
The Tigers powered 64 yards in 12 plays on the opening drive of the contest, gaining yards on the ground in big bites with four runs of 11 yards or longer. The drive stalled inside the Middle Tennessee 10-yard line, though and Colt David was forced to deliver the game’s first points on a 29-yard field goal with 10:36 remaining in the first quarter.
The Blue Raiders responded by spreading the field and moving the ball to the LSU 33 with a mix of option runs and quick passes. But, the drive was smothered when Craddock was sacked for a 10-yard loss by linebacker Darry Beckwith on 3rd-and-9.
LSU reclaimed possession at its 20-yard line and embarked on another 12-play drive, this one resulting in a touchdown. Perrilloux completed passes to four different receivers during the drive including a 24-yarder to Byrd and ultimately a 13-yarder to Charles Scott for the touchdown on the last play of the first quarter. The drive consumed 5:02 and gave LSU a 10-0 advantage.
The Tigers gave Middle Tennessee a chance to cut the lead when Perrilloux delivered LSU’s first turnover of the season on an interception by Blue Raider middle linebacker Dana Stewart at his 45. Stewart’s 18-yard return gave his team advantageous field position at the LSU 44. But the Tiger defense responded and stopped Middle Tennessee on a 4th- and-2 at the LSU 37 when Craddock’s pass was tipped in the air at the line of scrimmage.
On the ensuing play, Perrilloux delivered a dagger, finding Demetrius Byrd in single coverage down the middle of the field for a 62-yard touchdown pass. The point after by David gave LSU a 17-0 lead with 9:47 remaining in the first half.
LSU turned the ball over again near midfield when tight end Keith Zinger hauled in a six-yard first down pass but fumbled at the Blue Raider 49. Middle Tennessee managed to move backwards though, giving LSU a chance to extend its lead on the ensuing possession.
The Tigers took control at their 44-yard line and moved 38 yards in eight plays before bogging down at the Middle Tennessee 18. David lined up a 35 yard attempt, clanged it off the left upright but through the goal posts and LSU took a 20-0 lead with 3:04 to play in the half.
LSU’s lead grew on the last play of the half to 23-0 after David added another field goal, this time from 26 yards out. The 3-pointer capped an eight-play, 50-yard drive that consumed the last 1:48 of the half.
The Tigers’ lead swelled to 30-0 on their first possession of the second half as LSU seamlessly drove 65 yards on nine plays. Receiver Brandon LaFell carried the last 18 yards of the drive after taking an end-around pitch from tailback Jacob Hester and dodging the lone Blue Raider defender in his way on the way to south endzone. David’s point after came with 9:07 to play in the third quarter as the stands began to empty.
The LSU lead ripened a little more than a minute later thanks to a fumble by Blue Raider tailback Phillip Tanner who was smashed by defensive end Rahim Alem at the Middle Tennessee 15 yard line. One play later, Perrilloux precisely delivered a frozen rope pass to Terrance Tolliver deep in the end zone to give the Tigers a 37-0 advantage with 8:01 remaining in the third quarter.
And then, the lead grew some more. Red-shirt freshman tailback Richard Murphy scored his first career touchdown for the Tigers to end an 8-play, 68-yard drive with an 8-yard run with 1:28 left in the third quarter. The diving dash gave LSU a 44-0 lead after the 4:52 drive that was highlighted by a 32-yard pitch and catch from Perrilloux to Mitchell.
LSU vs. Middle Tennessee
Sept. 15, 2007 – Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.)
LSU Team Notes
1. LSU’s game captains were 6 Colt David, 21 Chevis Jackson, 51 Jacob O'Hair and 74 Brett Helms.
2. Middle Tennessee won the toss and deferred to the second half. LSU received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: CB Chevis Jackson (29), LB Ali Highsmith (17), LT Ciron Black (16), CB Jonathan Zenon (16), LG Herman Johnson (13) and DT Glenn Dorsey (11).
4. First-time starters for LSU in tonight’s game: WR Jared Mitchell and QB Ryan Perrilloux.
5. First-time players for LSU in tonight’s game: QB Andrew Hatch.
6. LSU has recorded at least one sack in 22 straight games after a first quarter sack by Darry Beckwith in tonight’s game. The last time LSU’s defense did not record a sack was against North Texas in 2005.
7. LSU has converted 22 straight (including 7-7 tonight) red zone opportunities (14 TD, 8 FG) dating back to the second quarter of the 2007 Sugar Bowl vs. Notre Dame.
8. LSU went 185 consecutive offensive plays without a turnover (171 this season and the final 14 last season) before the second quarter interception in tonight’s game. The interception came on the 26th offensive play of the game.
9. The 62-yard touchdown by Demetrius Byrd from Ryan Perrilloux with 9:47 left in the second quarter was the longest passing TD for LSU since a 67-yard touchdown catch by Xavier Carter from Matt Flynn in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State on Sept. 25, 2004.
10. LSU has outscored its opponents 157-7 over the last 13 quarters, including the 44-0 blanking tonight. Before Virginia Tech’s touchdown in the third quarter last week, opponents had not scored against the Tigers since Notre Dame did so in the second quarter of the 2007 Sugar Bowl.
11. LSU has outscored it opponents 167-7 in the first quarter in the 16 home games under head coach Les Miles (16 home games), including the 10-0 score tonight. Alabama was the only team to score on the Tigers in the first quarter during that stretch.
12. LSU extended several streaks tonight with the victory ... The Tigers extended their overall winning streak to 10 games ... LSU stretched its home winning streak to 15 games and 19 games at home against non-conference teams.
13. The 90 yards of total offense accumulated by Middle Tennessee is the fewest allowed by LSU since UL-Lafayette had 70 yards on Oct. 5, 2002.
14. The seven points allowed by LSU in its first three games is the fewest allowed to start the first three games of a season since 1959. That team only surrendered three points in its first three games and allowed only 29 during the entire year.
15. The seven points allowed by LSU in its last three games is also the fewest allowed by the Tigers in any three-game stretch since 1985 (def. Vanderbilt 49-7 on Oct. 12, def. Kentucky, 10-0 on Oct. 19 and def. Ole Miss, 14-0 on Nov. 2)
16. The nine rushing yards collected by Middle Tennessee is the fewest allowed by LSU since South Carolina was held to no rushing yards on Oct. 18, 2003.
17. The 44-0 blanking was the first shutout by an LSU team in Tiger Stadium since defeating Kentucky, 49-0, last season. The shutout was the fourth overall by the Tiger defense in the Les Miles era and the second in Tiger Stadium.
18. LSU has recorded two shutouts in the same season for the first time since 2000. The Tigers blanked Western Carolina (58-0) and Kentucky (34-0) that season.
19. LSU racked up six sacks in the game, the most by the squad since Oct. 8, 2005 at Vanderbilt.
20. Tonight’s attendance of 92,407 is the fifth largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history.
21. PK Colt David made the 16th, 17th and 18th field goals of his career with a 29-yard kick in the first quarter, a 35-yarder in the second quarter and a 26-yarder as time expired to end the first half. David has now made 18 of 24 attempts in his career.
a. David became the first LSU player to kick three field goals in a half (three in the first half tonight) since John Corbello kicked three in the first half against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 14, 2002.
b. David’s third extra point tonight moved the junior into second-place on LSU’s career extra points list with 110. He passed David Browndyke and trails only John Corbello (129 PATs). David finished the game with five PATs, giving him 112 for his career.
22. RB Charles Scott pulled down the second receiving touchdown of his career and second of the season on a 13-yard pass from Ryan Perrilloux as time expired in the first quarter.
23. QB Ryan Perrilloux tossed the fourth, fifth and sixth passing touchdowns of his career and of the season with a 13-yard pass to Charles Scott with 0:00 left in the first quarter, a 62-yard strike to Demetrius Byrd with 9:47 left in the second quarter and a 15-yard pass to Terrance Toliver with 8:01 left in the third quarter.
a. Perrilloux is the first LSU player to toss three touchdown passes in one game since JaMarcus Russell threw three against Ole Miss on Nov. 18, 2006.
24. WR Demetrius Byrd pulled down the first receiving touchdown of his career on a 62-yard reception from QB Ryan Perrilloux with 9:47 left in the second quarter. The TD catch was just the fourth reception of the freshman’s career.
25. WR Brandon LaFell scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on an 18-yard end around reverse with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
26. DT Rahim Alem forced a fumble in the third quarter. It was recovered by S Danny McCray. The stats are the first for both players.
27. WR Terrance Toliver scored his second career touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Ryan Perrilloux with 8:01 left in the third quarter.
28. RB Richard Murphy scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on an 8-yard run with 1:28 left in the third quarter.
29. WR Jared Mitchell recorded career-highs in both receptions (6) and receiving yards (82).
LSU Head Coach Les Miles Quotes
“I like the fact that our football team, no matter who we play, comes out with a level of excellence and with passion. They get to the ball. When you look at the scores today, at teams that BCS schools supposedly should just hand over, when it is ‘just another ranked team that is playing a team that is not that good.’ You find that that those ranked teams fight for dear life or get upset. At any event, that doesn’t happen here. Our guys understand in every contest we come to play.”
On young guys stepping up tonight...
“Also when you have your starting quarterback and your star receiver on the sideline, we showed the ability to play without them. Other guys step up. When you play at LSU and come out on the field with 11 players, it doesn’t mean that the guys at 12, 13 and 14, who are waiting to get out there, don’t have talent. When somebody gets a little nicked and we want to rest them, and we turn to a guy like Jared Mitchell or Demetrius Byrd, they understand that it is the responsibility of the position to play like the guy in front of them or better. We challenged some young guys today and they brought their talents to the team.”
“That was a very talented offense that was knocked off their feet by our defense. We only punted one time and kicked off a lot. That was good. In any event, we need to get back on our feet, get treatment and get healthy because we are back in the conference next week.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
S Craig Steltz
On LSU’s performance so far this season ...
“[The performance] has been something special. Offense is putting points on the board and that makes the job for the defense a little easier. We are just going out there and having fun.”
On the dominating games in Tiger Stadium this season ...
“That tells the opponents something about Tiger Stadium. They know that this is our house when they play here.”
On playing South Carolina next Saturday in Tiger Stadium ...
“It will be a great game. (The atmosphere) will be electric when we play an SEC team at home. We are preparing ourselves starting tomorrow.”
CB Chevis Jackson
On the defense’s performance in against Middle Tennessee ...
“It just goes back to the way we practice. (Bo) Pelini always talks about the little things to watch and we try to carry that over into the game.”
On LSU’s intensity ...
“At the beginning of the week ,(Tommy) Moffitt told us no let downs .That is what we came out to do tonight.”
On LSU’s offense ...
“(The offense) can put up points. They give us fits at practice. That show’s (Gary) Crowton’s offense. It is hard for the other teams to understand our formations. I think it is all just a credit to the coaches.”
LB Darry Beckwith
On how LSU went with a different starting offense...
“Guys that needed to step up tonight, stepped up. They made the plays. When it is there time to come they do it.
MIDDLE TENNSSEE HEAD COACH RICK STOCKSTILL QUOTES
On not capitalizing on the two LSU turnovers ...
“You have to play perfect against a team like LSU. We had some chances early to score, but give their defense credit. They swamped us. They stuffed us. We got some things going, but we just couldn’t sustain drives well enough against them. They were just too strong, too physical. I don’t think we made a lot of mistakes out there. I think we just ran into a very good football team, a team that in my opinion doesn’t have a weakness on their football team. We had a couple chances early with the turnovers, but we weren’t good enough to sustain the drives.”
On how his team played against LSU ...
“I thought we hung in there pretty well. Our defense held them to three field goals in the first half. I thought our defense competed well and made them earn everything they got. I don’t want to say I felt good at half time, but I was proud the way our guys were playing. They (LSU) were inside the red zone those three times, and we held them to field goals. Basically you have to hold them to nothing, but I thought our guys competed. I was very pleased with how our guys competed in the first half.”
On comparing the offenses of Louisville and LSU ...
“LSU has a lot of weapons offensively too. They played without their starting quarterback (Matt Flynn) and wide receiver (Early Doucet), so they’ve got a lot of weapons also. It’s just a different style of offense. LSU is a little bit more run-first while Louisville is more pass-first. I told the team afterward I thought we got better. I thought we made some improvements this game, and I know when you look at it 44-0 you can say ‘how can we improve?’ But I thought we got better. I thought there were some areas that we did better in. It’s just hard for that to show up when you play a team the caliber of LSU.”
Middle Tennessee State Offensive Player Quotes
MTSU QB JOE CRADDOCK
On playing against LSU’s defense...
“They’ve got a great defense -- probably the best in the country. It’s definitely the best I’ve ever played against. They’ve got a good front four and their secondary is solid and their linebackers are fast and very physical. They’ve got a good defense.”
On MTSU’s inability to capitalize on LSU turnovers...
“They definitely turned up the heat once we got the turnovers on our side of the field. They turned up the heat on defense and came after us and made some good plays.”
On their game plan coming into the game...
“Just try to be us and do what we do -- throw the ball a little bit and some bubble screens and try to stretch them (the LSU defense) wide and hopefully run the football and we did a pretty good job tonight, I thought. They’ve just got a real fast defense and their tough.”
On if they’ll be better off after playing two top-ten teams in two weeks (Louisville and LSU)...
“I think playing Louisville last week – they had a really good offense – and now LSU with a really good defense is really going to help us in the long run because playing two top-ten teams on offense and defense – and LSU is probably the best defense – It’s really going to help us a lot. We’ve just got to keep coming every day to work and work hard and get better every day.”
MTSU RB DEMARCO MCNAIR
On what makes LSU’s defense so good...
“Their defensive line. It starts up front with their strong, solid defensive front. The linebackers are pretty fast and really quick side-to-side. But the main thing is you can’t get the play started because they cause a lot of trouble up front. Mainly the d-line (makes them so good).”
On if MTSU’s 0-3 record weighs on the players...
“Playing two top-ten teams...you go into every game to try to win but at some point you have to think relatively.”
On if it’s a relief that MTSU will finally be able to play at home next week...
“Yea, playing a lot of away game can take its toll not playing in front of the home crowd.”
MIDDLE TENNESSEE DEFENISVE PLAYER QUOTES
CB Alex Suber
On the interception...
“He (Ryan Perrilloux) threw the ball up high and I went for it. Andrew Harrington came and wrapped him up and I saw the ball hanging out and I grabbed it.”
On the frustration of going on and off the field...
“There is a sense of frustration all the time. That’s what defense does; we must be ready to get back out there when it’s our time.”
On trying to hold LSU’s offense...
“Yes, that’s tough and frustrating for anybody. You go on the field and make a big play and they go deep on you and score.”
On going home to play...
“Yes, we’ve been excited about it for a while. We have played two top-10 teams on the road and we are ready to come home. We want to go home and see our crowd and play in front of them.”
On playing two top-10 teams...
“We feel like we are getting better every week. We need to fix some mistakes, but 0-3 is 0-3, so we need to look past it and start the season off now.”