BATON ROUGE -- LSU running back Keiland Williams scored twice, as the No. 11/9 ranked LSU football team opened its home schedule by beating Vanderbilt, 23-9, on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
LSU (2-0) did not trail on the wet evening. Light rain fell from the middle of the first quarter until early in the fourth quarter. Attendance was 91,566.
The Tigers, who had trouble getting off the field against Washington in the season opener, ran 72 plays including 41 in the first half. LSU had only 48 snaps against in Seattle.
LSU held the Commodores to 4-of-15 third-down conversions. Washington was 11-of-19.
Vanderbilt, which won its opener 45-0 over Western Carolina, fell to 1-1.
Williams carried 10 times for 72 yards including touchdown runs of 6 and 14 yards in the first and fourth quarter, respectively. Charles Scott added 49 yards on 13 rushing attempts. LSU out-rushed the Commodores, 178-122.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson had an efficient evening, completing 20-of-29 passes for 138 yards. He was sacked three times. His favorite target was Brandon LaFell, who caught seven passes for 38 yards. Senior R.J. Jackson had a career night with 55 yards on six grabs.
Vanderbilt was led by running back Zac Stacy, whose 89 yards rushing were more than starting quarterback Larry Smith's passing yards (88). Smith was 11-of-24 passing with a fourth-quarter interception in the redzone while trailing by a touchdown. He was also sacked three times.
LSU's second possession of the game featured the much-anticipated debut of freshman quarterback Russell Shepard. With 7:06 to play in the first quarter, Shepard lined up in the shotgun and ran 13 yards to the Vanderbilt 46. On the ensuing play, Shepard lined up in the right slot and caught an 8-yard pass from Jefferson. However, Shepard fumbled after a hard hit by Vanderbilt linebacker Chris Marve at the 38-yardline.
The Tigers defense then forced a three-and-out for the second-straight drive, and a 12-yard punt return by Trindon Holliday gave the Tigers good field position at their 31.
LaFell's 11-yard catch and a 15-yard facemask penalty against Vanderbilt moved the Tigers into Commodores territory. On third-and-14, Jefferson completed a 14-yard catch and run to Terrance Toliver to the Vandy 22. Toliver came up a yard short of a first down at the 13, but another facemask penalty on Vanderbilt gave LSU first-and-goal at the 6.
Williams' run on first down looked as if it would end short of the goal line, as the junior running back ran toward the left sideline. However, as the back of his jersey was grabbed by a Vanderbilt defender, Williams momentum carried him back toward the field and over the goalline.
With 2:12 to play in the first quarter, LSU led 7-0.
On the first drive of the second quarter, Holliday ran 11 yards around the right end to enter the redzone. Williams' 2-yard run on third-and-3 left the Tigers with a 32-yard field goal by Josh Jasper, and a 10-0 lead with 10:22 left in the half.
A 26-yard run by Stacy helped Vanderbilt drive 80 yards in 12 plays to cut the lead to 10-7. Smith faked a handoff to the left and ran untouched around the right end for a 6-yard touchdown with 7:20 remaining before halftime.
With only 52 seconds to play in the half, Jefferson's 30-yard pass to wide receiver R.J. Jackson put the Tigers in position to end the half with another score.
Jefferson connected with LaFell for 20 yards to the Vanderbilt 5-yard line with only six seconds left. With no timeouts left, LSU head coach Les Miles elected to add a 22-yard field goal by Jasper with 0:02 left in the half.
LSU took a 13-7 lead at halftime.
On the first drive of the second half, LSU put more points on the board but again came up a yard short of a first down inside the Vanderbilt redzone. Jasper added a 24-yard field goal for a 16-7 lead with 9:23 to play in the third quarter.
With 1:35 left in the third quarter, LSU led 16-9.
Vanderbilt returned Jasper's free kick to its 39-yard line and advanced to the LSU 26 on an 18-yard run by Kennard Reeves. Three plays later, Smith was intercepted when his intended receiver bobbled the ball into the hands of LSU safety Brandon Taylor at the LSU 16-yard line.
LSU put the nail in the coffin with 6:01 to play in the game when Williams ran for a 14-yard touchdown. Earlier in the drive, a defensive holding penalty on Marve negated a Vanderbilt interception near the goal line.
Vanderbilt was unable to cross midfield on its final possession, as a fourth-and-5 pass attempt by Smith fell incomplete.
The Tigers return to action on Saturday, Sept. 19, when Louisiana-Lafayette comes to Tiger Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff on ESPNU.
LSU vs. Vanderbilt
Sept. 12, 2009 – Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.)
1. LSU’s game captains were 26 Richard Murphy, 7 Patrick Peterson, 65 Lyle Hitt and 30 Josh Jasper.
2. Vanderbilt won the toss and elected to receive. LSU will kickoff to start the game and receive the second half kick.
3. Tigers extending their notable consecutive starts streak tonight were: LT Ciron Black (42), OG Lyle Hitt (22), LB Harry Coleman (15), RT Joseph Barksdale (15), TE Richard Dickson (15), RB Charles Scott (15) and CB Chris Hawkins (15).
4. Tigers making their first career appearances tonight: 10 Russell Shepard, 72 Alex Hurst, 17 Morris Claiborne, 21 Chris Tolliver and 16 Jhyryn Taylor.
5. Tigers making their first career starts tonight: SS Brandon Taylor and LE Chancey Aghayere.
6. LSU recognized the 30th anniversary of Charles McClendon’s final season as head coach of the Tigers prior to the game. First team All-Americans of the McClendon era were on the field as guest captains, including Charles Alexander, Warren Capone, Tommy Casanova, Robert Dugas, Ronnie Estay, Bert Jones, Tyler LaFauci, Doug Moreau and Jerry Stovall.
7. At the end of the first quarter, members of LSU baseball team and head coach Paul Mainieri were recognized on the field for their 2009 College World Series national championship.
8. Members of the LSU basketball team and head coach Trent Johnson presented former All-American and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal with his LSU Basketball All-Century team trophy during a timeout in the first quarter.
9. Vanderbilt’s safety with 1:35 left in the third quarter was the first allowed by LSU since Tulane recorded one on a hold in the endzone on Sept. 29, 2007.
10. LSU won its 31st consecutive Saturday night game in Tiger Stadium and head coach Les Miles improved to 20-0 in those contests. The last time the Tigers lost a Saturday night game in Tiger Stadium was Nov. 16, 2002 (lost to Alabama, 31-0).
11. LSU won its 11th straight game in the month of September. The last loss came at Auburn on Sept. 16, 2006.
12. The Tigers claimed their sixth straight victory over Vanderbilt in the series.
13. WR Brandon LaFell has now caught a pass in 30 straight games (29 of those multiple-reception games) dating back to the 2007 Sugar Bowl versus Notre Dame.
a. LaFell’s streak is the fifth longest streak in the nation. Central Michigan’s Bryan Anderson leads the nation with 42 consecutive games with a catch.
b. LaFell moved into 10th place in LSU career receptions. His seven catches tonight surpassed Larry Foster (1996-99) and he now sits at 129 career catches.
14. RB Keiland Williams tallied his 14th career rushing TD and first of the season on a 6-yard run with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
15. Williams scampered 14 yards for his second rushing TD of the game with 6:01 left in the game, the fourth time he has run for two touchdowns in a game in his career and the last time since he scored twice Oct. 18, 2008 in a 24-17 win at South Carolina.
16. PK Josh Jasper connected on a 32-yard field goal with 10:22 to play in the second quarter, a 22-yarder with 0:02 left in the second quarter and a 24-yarder with 9:23 left in the third quarter. It were his second, third and fourth field goals of the season and he remained a perfect 6-of-6 for his career. Jasper is also a perfect 11-of-11 on PATs for his career after going 2-for-2 tonight.
17. WR R.J. Jackson came into the game with one career reception and finished with a career-best six catches for 55 yards.
18. SS Brandon Taylor recorded his first career interception with 13:41 remaining in the fourth quarter and Vanderbilt driving.
19. TE Richard Dickson extended his streak to 13 consecutive games with a reception as he finished with two catches and 14 yards against Vanderbilt.
20. WR Terrance Toliver also extended his streak to 12 consecutive games with a reception by finishing with three catches for 21 yards.
21. DE Lavar Edwards was credited with the first sack of his career when he dropped Vanderbilt QB Larry Smith for a 9-yard loss in the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt Game Notes Vs. LSU
September 12, 2009
LSU 23 Vanderbilt 9
Vanderbilt now trails the overall series 7-21-1 and 2-11-1 in Baton Rouge.
- Redshirt sophomore T.J. Greenstone started in place of Greg Billinger; it is Greenstone’s third career start.
- Redshirt sophomore Jamie Graham made his first defensive start of his career.
- LSU won the time of possession battle for the game, 36:23 to 23:37.
- LSU outgained Vanderbilt, 326 to 210 in total offense. The Commodores had 122 yards rushing and 88 passing yards.
- Tigers had 22 first downs to Vanderbilt’s 12.
- Vanderbilt had seven penalties for 52 yards on the night. LSU had five penalties for 28 yards.
- The Commodores held the Tigers to only 94 yards of total offense in the second half.
- Sophomore cornerback Casey Heyward led the Commodores with a career-best 13 tackles, including a career-high four tackles for loss.
- Sophomore safety Sean Richardson also had a career best in tackles with 10. He also added 1.5 tackles for loss.
- Sophomore linebacker Chris Marve also added 11 tackles, including one forced fumble, his third of the season.
- Zac Stacy led the Commodores in rushing with 89 yards on 20 carries.
- Larry Smith finished the game 11-for-24 for 88 yards and one interception.
- Tight end Austin Monahan led the Commodores in receiving with three catches for 25 yards.
First half – LSU 13 Vanderbilt 7
- Chris Marve forced an LSU turnover with 6:25 to go in first half, his third forced fumble of the season and seventh of his career. Patrick Benoist recovered the fumble, his fourth career and second of the season.
- Vanderbilt surrendered its first touchdown of the season on a Keilland Williams six-yard run. The run capped an eight-play, 69-yard drive (3:22) for the Tigers.
- Broderick Stewart tallied his 17th sack of his career in the second quarter.
- John Jasper converted a 32-yard field goal with 10:22 to go in second quarter.
- Zac Stacy runs for 26 yards, a career-best, with 8:20 to go in first half. Stacy ended the first half with 49 yards on nine carries.
- Larry Smith rushes for a six-yard Vanderbilt touchdown with 7:20 to go in first half. The run caps a 12-play, 80-yard drive that used 2:55 on the clock. It was the longest drive in terms of plays for the Commodores all season.
- John Cole made his first career catch with 2:00 to go in second half.
- LSU tacked on a 22-yard field goal by Josh Jasper with two seconds remaining in the first half to make the score 13-7 heading into the halftime break.
- Smith ended the first half 7-of-15 for 57 yards and one rushing touchdown.
- Sean Richardson and Casey Hayward led the Commodores with seven tackles apiece. Each had 1.5 tackles for loss.
- John Jasper made his third field goal of the game, this time from 24 yards, to make the score 16-7.
- Vanderbilt scored on a LSU safety on a bad snap to LSU punter Derek Helton. It marked the first time since September 25, 2004, at Navy VU has scored on a safety.
- Keilland Williams added another touchdown run, this time from 14 yards out at the 6:01 mark in the fourth quarter, to cap the Tiger scoring.
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
“I certainly enjoyed the victory. Winning is the key piece. I think any time you play imperfectly, and you come to the post-game, you have to recognize that first things first. You’d much rather win than do any other thing that we got, so that being said, I think we have to play better. In the first half, I felt like our defense played really in position again; we had some missed tackles. I felt like the offense moved the football at times extremely well, certainly in the first half, but we need to be able to drive for first downs even when we don’t move the ball or even when it’s not a great drive that scores. In the second half, I felt like the defense really played extremely well, and the offense didn’t have any momentum and didn’t get it going until the back end of the game. Offensively, we have to be able to run the football when we want to. We can throw it. There isn’t any question. I like our throwing game. I like the fact that (QB) Jordan Jefferson is on the money, knows what he’s doing with the ball and reads it well, and I’ll take him. I like him at quarterback. We can throw it and catch it, but we have to run it better, and we will. Our football team understands this victory. Certainly, that’s the first order of business, but we’ve got to get better. We’re going to play a lot of quality football teams as we go forward, and we want to play our best against them.
“I’m saddened that (RB) Richard Murphy will probably not make the next game and maybe the next game. It’s sad to have a quality, young back get hurt, but those things happen. If you look at their total offensive plays, (they had) 63 for 210 yards. By any stretch, that’s a great defensive performance. You look at our punter (Derek Helton). If you look at a punter who did not play extremely well at Washington and came in, and when we called upon him to put a direction on it and to hit it hard, he did. When the game was in question, he had his best punts. I enjoyed that. In time of possession, we had the ball for 36 minutes. We should have scored more. If you look at guys who got in the game, (QB) Russell Shepard carried the ball three times with nine yards a carry. That’s not a bad deal. We have to get him some more touches and some more experience. The second time with the ball in his hand, he coughs it up. He didn’t understand how important it is to get the yards and go down. Going down is OK as long as you have the ball.
“It was a career night for (WR) R.J. Jackson. He had six catches for 55 yards. He set up a field goal late in the game, and I just want you to know something. R.J. Jackson and those style of men, when they get to their senior year and playing their best football, that’s when we need them. He is that guy for us. We look forward to the kind of game that he had. Again, we were 20-of-29 (passing) at quarterback. There weren’t a lot of yards but a lot of receptions, and he was very efficient throwing it.
“If you look at the defense, it would appear to me that (LB) Harry Coleman and (DE) Rahim Alem had big nights. It seems like they were all over the field. I think that defensive front really handled the line of scrimmage against Vanderbilt, and that’s what we needed for them to do.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On improving as a team and individually ...
“As of right now, we’re looking really good. Our defense gave us a lot of opportunities to be on the field. We’re looking to excel week after week. Personally for me, I learned a lot from last week. I thought I did a good job of reading Vanderbilt’s defense and progressing the game plan as much as I could. I’m still learning, though, and still trying to progress as a good quarterback.”
On the last scoring drive ...
“It was a big possession. We really needed to score again to separate ourselves from a close game. Charles (Scott) did his best and got the first down, and that’s what we really needed to keep it alive.”
On if he was disappointed in the offense ...
“I’m not disappointed, but I did feel like the offense fell short today. Like on fourth-and-one, we were an inch short. Had we gotten that inch, the score would have been a little different. We still won, and I’m happy with the victory.”
On returning from a long road trip ...
“We were excited to be back in Death Valley, and our fans came out in droves today even with the rain. It got loud today, and it was good to feel the electricity of being home again.”
On making adjustments throughout the game ...
“Just like any game, starting off we had to make some adjustments. We pretty much stuck to our game plan though and came out with a win.”
On the difficulty of running the ball in the rain ...
“Actually it’s easier to run the ball than throw the ball in my opinion when it’s wet. When you throw you have to worry about the snap, throw and catch. When you run the quarterback just has to hand it off. I would say that though, being a running back.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
CB Patrick Peterson
On the win ...
“It is definitely a big win. We came out and struggled a little bit, but I think in the second half the offense and the defense came together and we played well.”
On the slow start ...
“I think the weather slowed us down a little bit, but defensively we were more aggressive this week. I also think we improved from last week.”
On being home in Tiger Stadium ...
“We love our fans. They definitely know how to support us. They came all the way to Washington to watch us. We had great fans in Death Valley.”
LB Harry Coleman
On the big SEC win ...
“You have to give it up to Vanderbilt. Those guys played hard. We were home, and we got our legs back under us.”
On the defensive improvement ...
“We improved big time. We went into practice Monday and worked hard. We felt good, and we could definitely see the improvement.”
CB Brandon Taylor
On why the safeties rotated throughout the entire game ...
“We were getting kind of winded, and they kept cutting us a lot. It was hurting our knees so that is why we had to keep coming out.”
On the pride of the defense ...
“We gave up a lot of yardage against Washington. That is something that we do not do, so we took it upon ourselves. We came together and had a little meeting after Thursday’s practice. Drake Nevis talked to everyone and told us to take it up a notch.”
VANDERBILT HEAD COACH BOBBY JOHNSON QUOTES
Opening statement ...
“I want to congratulate LSU. I thought they had a really good game plan and came out and controlled the ball for a long time. They did some really good things. They hurt us on the perimeter running the ball and we never did seem able to stop that consistently. Some huge plays were the two face mask penalties on the drive. That is just people going hard trying to make plays. We got beat up and had a bunch of guys that had to come out. I’m proud of the way our team hung in there until the end and battled. We just need to focus on getting ready for next week.”
On if the rain impacted the game ...
“It made it a little slippery out there. The ball got slippery at times. I think both teams fumbled around a few times, but it was no big deal.”
On the adjustments made after the half due to injury ...
“We were jerry rigging that thing. We had linebackers at safety and safeties at linebackers. When Ryan Hamilton went out, Patrick Benoist, Jamie Graham, we had a freshman playing corner. You don’t have a long shelf life when you are doing that. LSU caught up with it and did a good job controlling the ball. They kept us off the field offensively and that was the ballgame.”
On three and outs ...
“It is always disappointing to do that, but it was our execution problems. I didn’t think it was a scheme problem that we had. We have to catch the ball better. We dropped and fumbled first downs, and the ball went through our hands for an interception. We had a good first drive, but we couldn’t follow it up. LSU is good on defense, and they have good players.”
On Larry Smith’s interception ...
“We were going to make the first down, we were seven points behind and all we had to do was score a touchdown or a field goal to make it tighter. When you make it tighter in the fourth quarter, you have a chance. I think Larry (Smith) is going to be a good quarterback for us. He stayed cool and calm most of the time. He had a few mistakes, but that’s what you get when you have a guy who has only started three games.”
VANDERBILT OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
QB Larry Smith
On if the LSU defense changed anything from last week’s game film...
“No, not at all. They did exactly what we expected them to do. We did a poor job executing tonight. We had several opportunities to get back in the game and we just failed to. But no, they didn’t appear to do anything out of the ordinary.”
On the Brandon Taylor interception following the safety...
“That hurt. We had a lot of momentum after the safety. We had good field position, and we just couldn’t capitalize. It hurt. That changed the whole ballgame. If we score there, it’s tied up.”
On if the weather affected the game...
“In the first half it did a little bit. The ball was kind of wet and our hands were wet. But, that’s not an excuse for the way we played.”
VANDERBILT DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
DB Casey Hayward
On missed opportunities ...
“We had a lot of opportunities tonight and we needed to capitalize, and hopefully we can do that next week.”
On the play of Jordan Jefferson ...
“He’s really athletic and will be a good quarterback coming up. He throws the ball real good and his receivers always seem to get open.”
On seeing Russell Shepard even though he did not play last week ...
“We were aware he was going to play but not sure how many snaps he would get, basically we played the same defense when he was in.”
DE Broderick Stewart
On Vanderbilt’s focus regarding LSU offense coming into game ...
“We focused a lot on their slants and their power game. They started to get on the edge a little quicker than we anticipated, so we tried to make some adjustments at the half.”
On frustration with missed opportunities ...
“We really shot ourselves in the foot. The two facemask penalties hurt us. Not to mention, people were already going down left and right, but you can’t have penalties when you play a good team.”
On Russell Shepard ...
“We had heard we might see some stallion or wildcat formations with him and he’s pretty fast. When he gets on the edge he makes plays with his feet and that’s what they recruited him for.”