Russell, Tigers Pound 'Dawgs, 48-17

Russell and the Tigers had 35 points before MSU had 35 yards.
Russell and the Tigers had 35 points before MSU had 35 yards.
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Game resumed at 2:19 p.m. CT after a 52-minute lightning delay that occurred with 10:31 left on the third-quarter clock. LSU led 35-3, and Mississippi State had the ball on third-and-9 from the LSU 26.

by Chris Macaluso
Special to LSUsports.net

BATON ROUGE  Saturday’s Mississippi State-LSU game in Tiger Stadium was delayed for 52 minutes in the second half by lightening.

That may have been just long enough for the reality of a 35-3 halftime deficit and a total domination by LSU to sink in for the visiting Bulldog players. Eventually, that score became 48-17 final in favor of LSU while a small smattering of the remains of a sellout crowd sat in the post-storm humidity.

The win improved LSU’s record to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference a week before a trip to Florida for a crucial SEC match up between two top-10 teams. Mississippi State continued what has already become a woeful season by sinking to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the SEC. The road stays bumpy for the Bulldogs who return to Starkville to host a fourth-ranked West Virginia squad that features some of college football’s best skill position talent.

The game was effectively over before most fans wiped the sleep from their eyes after the pre-noon start. LSU scored a touchdown on its first five possessions with Tiger quarterback JaMarcus Russell stabbing the Bulldog defense over and over with long passes. Russell completed 13-of-14 passes in the first half for 272 yards and three touchdowns.

By the end of the game, Russell’s stats swelled to an eye-pooping 18 completions in 20 attempts for 330 yards including a team-record tying 14 straight completions.

The Tigers gained 446 yards in all, a full 200 more than its opponent. Mississippi State quarterback Omarr Conner finished with a respectable 15 completions in 28 attempts for 212 yards and one touchdown. But, his production was overshadowed by the lack of production by a Bulldog rushing attack that managed just 14 yards.

LSU’s rushing attack struggled most of the contest but was able to eventually cap the 100-yard mark as three different runners scored touchdowns and almost evenly split 29 of the 38 Tiger carries for 108 yards.

“Obviously JaMarcus Russell and our passing game had a great day,” LSU Coach Les Miles said. “He is a tremendous weapon for us. He really performs when called on.”

Mississippi State’s first of many mistakes was made when kickoff returner Derek Pegues grabbed the opening kick three-yards deep in the endzone and decided to tempt fate on a return. Pegues was tackled by a host of Tiger special teamers at the Bulldog 13. Two rushes and a feeble pass attempt netted Mississippi State five yards, giving the Tigers advantageous field position at their 44 after the fourth down punt.

LSU needed just six plays to score as Russell connected with Craig Davis for 20 yards, Dwayne Bowe for 25 yards then Davis again for nine yards to end the six-play drive and give the Tigers the first score. The point after by Colt David staked LSU to a 7-0 lead with 10:55 remaining in the first quarter.

Another inept offensive try by the Bulldogs netted just three yards on the ensuing possession, giving LSU its second shot to score. The Tiger drive started at the Bulldog 49, moved quickly to the six-yard line thanks to a 31-yard completion from Russell to Bowe and ended with a six-yard plunge by tailback Charles Scott. The touchdown drive lasted just four plays and 2:12 and gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 6:47 remaining in the opening quarter.

A block in the back penalty pinned the Bulldogs at their 10 on the next drive. After managing one yard, Mississippi State punted and gave the Tigers a chance to twist the dagger deeper.

A nifty 22-yard punt return by Chevis Jackson gave the Tigers a first down at the State 37. A swift 37-yard pass from Russell to Early Doucet gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead on the next play. The throw and catch ate just 17 seconds and briefly paused the route with 3:40 to play in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs earned a moral victory by picking up a first down on their next possession. Then, they were demoralized by the Tiger offense when LSU again claimed possession four plays later. Russell completed a 15-yard pass to Doucet on first down from the LSU 28. Russell then shifted in the pocket long enough to find tight end Richard Dixon 55 yards down the field, giving Scott his second scoring chance on the first play of the second quarter. Scott obliged and plunged into the endzone from inside the one-yard line with 14:56 to play in the half and running the score count to 28-0 after the point after.

Mississippi State may as well have not possessed the ball at all on the ensuing drive. After a personal foul call against the Bulldogs pushed the ball inside their 10, State punted again, giving the LSU offense more practice. Seven plays after regaining possession, Russell spotted Bowe alone in the back of the south endzone and drilled another touchdown pass. The uncontested toss capped a 54-yard drive that consumed just 2:50 and gave the Tigers a five-touchdown lead with 10:35 to play in the half.

The Bulldogs salvaged a modicum of dignity on their next possession by driving into LSU territory for the first time. The 11-play drive eventually stalled at the Tiger 15 giving Adam Carlson the chance to add three points to the visitor half of the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal with 4:50 remaining in the first half.

Mississippi State had another chance to threaten to score late in the half when it recovered a Russell fumble at the LSU 43. But, two sacks in three plays rapidly closed the opportunity and the half ended after a Bulldog punt into the endzone.

The Bulldogs scored the first points of the second half thanks to a gift from Tiger backup quarterback Matt Flynn who threw a second-down pass straight into the gut of Pegues. The MSU cornerback intercepted Flynn at the Tiger 23 on the west sideline, then raced across the east side of the endzone untouched for a touchdown with 3:07 remaining in the third quarter to cut the lead to 35-10.

Flynn’s inability led to Russell’s return and the return of LSU’s 32-point advantage. Russell led his team on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a five yard leap into the north endzone by tailback/fullback Jacob Hester. The score ran the score to 42-10 with 13:01 to play in the game.

“We took him (Russell) out of the game and put him back in the game,” Miles said. We told him to engineer a drive and he did so. We have a responsibility of play. We don’t want to finish the game sloppy.”

The Bulldogs cut into that lead again with 9:57 to play when Conner found a streaking Tony Burks in the south endzone in single coverage. Conner heaved a 46-yard bomb to the wide out. The point after ended a five-play, 79-yard drive and cut the LSU lead to 42-17. 

LSU extended the lead again on the last meaningful drive of the game by leaning on a running game that had been left in the wake of the dominant passing attack. The Tigers attempted just one pass in a 13-play drive that spanned 80 yards and was capped by a one-yard plunge by Alley Broussard and featured a 23-yard run by Hester. The missed point after ran the final score to 48-17.

“We took care of business,” Miles said. “It’s nice to come off a victory and look forward to playing an opponent that we can get excited about.”

LSU Post-Game Notes
Team Notes

1. LSU’s game captains were 3 Craig Davis, 18 Jacob Hester, 41 Chris Jackson and 52 Ryan Willis.
2. LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. Mississippi State received the opening kickoff.
a. LSU has won the toss in all five games this season.
3. Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: FS LaRon Landry (40), CB Chevis Jackson (18), DE Chase Pittman (11).
4. RB Charles Scott started for the first time in his career.
a. Scott is the second true freshman to start for the Tigers this season joining TE Richard Dickson.
b. Today marks the first time two true freshmen (Scott and Dickson) started in the same game since the Oct. 2, 2004 at Georgia (LB Ali Highsmith and DT Glenn Dorsey). The last time two true freshmen started the same game on offense was Dec. 1, 2001 against Auburn (WR Michael Clayton and C Ben Wilkerson).
5. SNP P.J. Zimmerman saw his first action as a Tiger in today’s game.
6. LSU’s extended its streak to 47 straight trips into the red zone not being stopped by an opponent or missing a kick with six successful trips today.  The streak dated back to the Auburn game in 2005 (39 touchdowns and eight field goals).
7. LSU has now scored on its first possession in four of the five games this season. The loss at Auburn was the only game this season the Tigers did not score on their first possession.
8. LSU has recorded at least one sack in 11 straight games after a first quarter sack in today’s game. The last time LSU’s defense did not record a sack was against North Texas last season.
9. LSU has now outscored its opponents 230-41 in the last 23 quarters of football. The streak includes a 40-3 victory over Miami in the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, 45-3 wins over UL-Lafayette and Arizona, a 7-3 loss at Auburn, a 49-7 victory over Tulane and a 48-17 victory today.
10. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 86-0 in the first quarter of the five games this season, including the 21-0 score in today’s game.
11. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 138-6 in the first half of the five games this season, including a 35-3 score in today’s game.
12. LSU’s 35 first-half points are the most the Tigers have scored in a half against an SEC opponent since putting up 43 points on Kentucky in the second half on Nov. 21, 1997.
13. The game was delayed at 1:27 (real time) until 2:19 for 52 minutes due to lightning in the area. 
14. LSU had four different players with over 50 yards receiving (Davis- 101, Bowe 95, Doucet 71, Dickson 55) in the game for the first time since a 29-25 win at Kentucky on Oct. 13, 2001.
15. The Tigers put up 48 points in the contest, the most by the squad in an SEC game since posting 51 points against Mississippi State on Sept. 25, 2004.
16. LSU extended its winning streak over Mississippi State to seven games. The Tigers have now won 14 of their last 15 games against the Bulldogs. LSU has also won eight straight over MSU in Tiger Stadium.

Individual Notes
17. With a tackle early in the first quarter, FS LaRon Landry extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 44 straight games.
18. WR Craig Davis pulled in a 20-yard reception in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 28 (every game in which he has played).
a. Davis pulled in a nine-yard TD reception with 10:55 left in the first quarter. The score was the first of the season for the senior and the fourth of his career.
b. Davis recorded the first 100-yard receiving game of his career with 101 yards and six catches. 
19. WR Dwayne Bowe pulled in a 25-yard reception early in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 17 straight games.
a. Bowe scored the 17th receiving touchdown of his career and the third of the season on a six-yard pass from JaMarcus Russell with 10:35 left in the second quarter.
20. With four PATs today, PK Colt David has extended his consecutive successful PAT streak to 57 straight. The streak moves him into third place in school history. 
21. QB JaMarcus Russell tossed two first-quarter touchdown passes and one in the second. The QB has now tossed 34 TD passes in his career and 10 this season.
a. The pass-catch combo of Russell to Dwayne Bowe has now connected on 15 TDs in their career, moving the duo into second-place on LSU’s all-time list, six behind the Tommy Hodson-Wendell Davis combo.
b. Russell tied his career-high for TD passes in a game with three in the game. His other three-touchdown game was against UL-Lafayette earlier this season.
c. Russell moved into fifth-place on LSU’s career passing yards during the second quarter, passing both Rohan Davey and Alan Risher. Russell finished the game with 330 yards to increase his career total to 4,742.
d. Russell’s 272 passing yards in the first half broke LSU’s record for passing yards in a half. The previous mark was 267 yards by Rohan Davey set in the second half of the Alabama game on Nov. 3, 2001.
e. Russell completed 14 straight passes in the game, tying the school record for consecutive completions in one game held by Matt Mauck (vs. Louisiana Tech in 2003) and by Chad Loup (vs. Arkansas in 1993).
f. Russell’s 18-for-20 in today’s game ties the school record for completion percentage in a game (min. 20 attempts). His .900 percentage tied Matt Mauck’s 18-for-20 against Louisiana Tech in 2003.
g. Russell set a career-high in passing yards with 330, eclipsing his previous best of 285 yards at Vanderbilt last season.
h. With three TD passes, Russell tied Jamie Howard (1992-95) for fourth all-time in career TD passes with 34.
22. RB Charles Scott scored his fourth and fifth rushing touchdowns of the season on a six-yard run with 6:47 left in the first quarter and a one-yard run with 14:56 left in the second quarter.
23. WR Early Doucet pulled in a 37-yard TD pass from JaMarcus Russell with 3:30 left in the first quarter. The TD reception was the 11th of his career and fourth of the season.
24. With a tackle in the second quarter, SS Jessie Daniels extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 34 straight games.
25. RB Jacob Hester scored the sixth rushing touchdown of his career and the fourth of the season with a five-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
26. RB Alley Broussard scored his third touchdown of the season and 17th of his career on a 1-yard plunge with 1:29 remaining in the game.
27. S Craig Steltz recorded his fourth interception of the season and fifth of his career with a pick late in the fourth quarter. Steltz has now intercepted a pass in four straight games. 

Mississippi State Postgame Notes
TEAM

  • Mississippi State captains for today's game are #2 Quinton Culberson, #14 Omarr Conner and #62 Russell Cook.
  • With a recovered fumble in the second-quarter, MState has now forced at least one turnover in each of the last 20 games.
  • With an interception return for touchdown in the third-quarter, MSU scored its first defensive touchdown since a Quinton Culberson interception return for TD against Kentucky in 2004.
  • Mississippi State's touchdown pass in the fourth quarter was its first TD toss of the season.
  • The Bulldogs 17 points scored are the most allowed by LSU this season.
  • MSU opponents have scored first in each of the Bulldogs' five games this season.
  • The game was halted with 10:31 remaining in the third quarter. The 52 minute delay was the first stoppage of play during a Mississipi State game since the October 13, 2001 Troy State game.

INDIVIDUAL

  • Freshman Anthony Dixon earned his first start of the season.
  • Sophomore Adam Carlson booted a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was his second consecutive successful attempt.
  • Senior defensive tackle Deljuan Robinson was credited with a tackle for loss in today's game. He moves his Southeastern Conference-leading season total to 8.5 on the year (minus 36 yards). Robinson left the contest in the second quarter with an injury.
  • Senior defensive lineman Antonio Johnson's second-quarter fumble recovery was the first of his career.
  • Sophomore punter Blake McAdams hit a 59-yard punt to close out the first half. It was the second-longest of his career. McAdams finished the game with seven punts for a 44.1-yard average.
  • Senior K Keith Andrews booted four touchbacks on four kickoffs. He has now hit five of six kickoffs this season for touchbacks.
  • Sophomore Jamayel Smith's third-quarter reception was his first career catch.
  • Junior wideout Joey Sanders pulled in his first reception of the season.
  • Sophomore defensive back Derek Pegues' third-quarter interception return for a touchdown was his second career pick, and his first career touchdown.
  • Senior quarterback Omarr Conner's 46-yard touchdown pass in the fourth-quarter was his first of the season.
  • The TD toss was the 15th of Conner's career, moving him into a tie for 10th on the school's all-time list (Jackie Parker 1952-53).
  • Junior receiver Tony Burks' touchdown reception was the first in his Bulldog career.
  • Burks finished with four catches for 103 yards, his second career 100-yard game.
  • True freshman Jamon Hughes saw his first playing time for the MSU defense, after playing on special teams at UAB. He finished the game with five total tackles.

LSU Head coach Les Miles Quotes

Opening Statement...
"Obviously JaMarcus Russell and our passing game had a great day. Personally, he threw 14 consecutive completions, 18-of-20. He is a tremendous weapon for us. He really performs when called on. We took him out of the game and put him back in the game. We told him we wanted to engineer a drive and he did so. No question he is having a great year and certainly looks forward to the remainder of the season. The defense played well to the point. I think our intensity was really good to start the game. I think the intermission probably affected our play a little bit. I don’t know to what extent, how much or how little. We took care of business. It's nice to come off a victory and look forward to playing an opponent that we can get excited about."

On if putting JaMarcus Russell back in had anything to do with him nearing 300 yards...
"It had nothing to do with 300 yards. We have a responsibility of play. When you go on the football field you have to play well. We don’t want to finish a game sloppy. We don't want to have long passes or interceptions. Our guys that take snaps or defend passes have to be held to the level of LSU. Certainly, we wanted Matt (Flynn) to play and we have confidence in him, but we had to make sure that everybody knew that's not acceptable so we put JaMarcus (Russell) back in."

LSU Offensive Player Quotes

WR CRAIG DAVIS

On QB JaMarcus Russell’s play today...
“He did really well today. Going 18-20 is great. I think he threw 14-straight completions, with a performance like that, what else can you ask for?”

On the receivers playing so well together...
“I believe it comes down to us communicating so well. We worked hard in the summer and fall camp to get to where we are right now. We just have to continue to stay on the same page and move forward.”

QB JAMARCUS RUSSELL

On his 55-yard completion to Richard Dickson...
“To be honest, I wasn’t throwing to him. I was trying to get it to Buster (Davis). I didn’t get a chance to see him catch it because I was hit on the play but I am proud of him.”

On how he stayed focused on the game after the rain delay...
“I just kept my head in the game and stayed focused on the task at it. We kept clicking that first drive (after the rain delay) and made sure the rain delay didn’t take us out of the game.”

FB JACOB HESTER

On scoring over 40 points four out of the first five games this season...
“It was key to get this many points in a conference game. The other three times we did it was out of conference and to score 48 points against a tough Mississippi State defense is great. Their front seven is as good of a group as we have played.”

On how effective the offense has been so far this season...
“The way we are playing right now we can hang with anybody in the country. If they try and stop our running game then JaMarcus will throw it. If they try to stop JaMarcus then we have a group of running backs that can run it.”

On the delay...
“It’s hard to get back to speed when you have a break like that. You start to get tight and sore but this team is a veteran team so we knew when we came back out we had to stay focused.”

LSU Defensive Player Quotes

DB Chevis Jackson

On today’s game...
“Coming into today’s games we had a good opponent in Mississippi State. We had a lot of separations. We took it seriously, as every week we do. Other than the lightning delay, I think it was a good game.”

On the offense...
“I think the offense is doing a really good job. They give us hits every day in practice with Buster (Craig Davis), (Dwayne) Bowe, Early (Doucet) and JaMarcus (Russell). It is just a good group of guys out there and they come to work every day at practice.”

On the defense...
“I think it is kind of like a brotherhood. We came together in camp. Everybody is real close. I think it shows on the field when we play.”

LE Tyson Jackson

On the game...
“Once we started leading the game coach says every week that we have to get the job done. We can’t come out lackadaisical as an opponent, so we came out hard and played physical and it turned out good.”

On Omarr Conner...
“He is a great athlete. All week we were told we had to contain him. He was moving in and out of the pocket. I think we did a pretty good job for the most part of containing him and not letting him move around in the pocket.”

On the last score throwing them off as being the No. 1 defense...
“As a defense you always want to be on top, but you take what you can get. We came out with the victory. We played well as a defense and we need to continue to get better. We are really not worried about statistics and just worry about what we can do.”

Mississippi State Head Coach Sylvester Croom Quotes

Opening Statement ...
“We got beat today by a very good football team, and we knew that going in they were going to be a good football team. I was really anticipating us getting off to a much better start in the game than what we did. We practiced well on both sides of the ball. We thought we could line up and attack them and play a physical game with them and not make errors in the early part of the game, and just stay in the game and see what happens. We knew going into the game that they were an excellent football team. I don’t think anybody denied that, but the thing that disappointed was that I don’t feel like we challenged them early as well as we did. Now we did come back after the half and after the rain delay, and we had some guys really step up and compete. I noticed Jamar Chaney out there on defense. I have to evaluate how these guys played, but a guy who didn’t practice a whole lot, Arnil Stallworth, here’s a guy who goes out there and he’s hurt. He couldn’t practice a lot. He got in a little practice on Thursday, and he played a heck of a game. Every game this guy (Stallworth) makes plays. Tony Burks made some. We finally got the ball to Tony in situations, and he made some plays. He got by their secondary a couple of times, several times early in the first half. We just didn’t have enough time to get him the football. He was wide open on a couple of things, but when he did get a chance to have the ball come his way he made some plays. Omarr (Conner) was fighting and scratching the entire day. I have to look at the film and see some other guys. The other thing that disappointed me is we had some ridiculous penalties out there that we normally don’t do. We had some guys who lose their composure, and those type things are what really disappoint me is when we don’t play with the discipline that we have been playing with, and as soon as we get against an excellent football team there’s a tendency to revert back to old habits. We can’t continue to do that. You can’t give a team like LSU anything, and we can’t give them a yard and extra things after the snap and we did that today. The key now with our players is we had a great week of practice. We have to put this one behind us and get ready for a real good West Virginia team that is coming into our place. We have to get off to a good start as far as competing and making plays. On defense we have to get them off the field on third down. On offense we can’t come up a yard short. We got a chance to get a first down we can’t come up a yard short. We have to keep drives going. We didn’t do that. We had a chance to get big first downs and keep some drives going, and we didn’t do that because the guys were just a little off here or just don’t make a play.”

On the play of his team in the first quarter ...
“A lot of it had to do with LSU, but we weren’t there either, particularly on defense. We had a lot of errors on the coverage, which we haven’t been having, and the thing about it is we’re doing the same stuff. Guys just not being in the right place, and there was hesitation. The only thing you can attribute that to is lack of confidence, and this is what I addressed with the team after the game. We didn’t play with any confidence at all, and it was not aggressive in that first quarter. And when we play teams of the caliber of LSU the only chance you have to beat them is to be aggressive and go out there and look them in the eye and challenge them. We talked about that all week, and that was the idea we tried to sell to our players, that we were going to look them in the eye and challenge them. Then from there whatever happens happens, but we didn’t do that early. 

Mississippi State Offensive Player Quotes

WR Tony Burks

On competing against LSU's defense...
"We had been working hard but the execution didn’t go as planned. They were trying to jam our man on the line at point and the other man played off us five or six yards. The man at the point had a chance to get off a good release and the other receivers had to work up field."

On the quarterback (Omarr Conner) not having time to connect with him...
"It's always tough when you don’t have protection. He was working with what he had. When I was open and he had time we made that connection."

OL Brian Anderson

On Conner not having time to pass the ball...
"I think during the second half we gave him a little bit more time and he threw the ball down field and Tony (Burks) was able to get open a couple of times for some big plays. That’s the kind of things that we expect from Omarr (Conner) if we give him more time. I'm not taking any credit away from them (LSU), they have a really good defense. They deserve everything they get from this game. They played better than we did. I thought he (Conner) came in there every time and tried to make something happen. I wish we could have given him more time."

Mississippi State Defensive Quotes

Jeramie Johnson DB

On LSU offensive line..
“Everything that the team did was right. I thought things were going to go a little bit better. We came here mentally focused and I thought that we would do much better.”

On why the defense had so much trouble in the beginning...
“To be honest, I don’t know what the reason was. We needed to be more focused and put ours minds in the game. When someone had a big play, we should have to put it behind us and moved on.”

On the techniques used to defend the LSU offensive players...
“I was around most of the passing. It was confusing because the receiver was doing stuff to throw us off. They had a lot more motion then we thought they were going to have. So we were trying to make sure we knew what we did wrong, so it would not happen again.”

On the Tigers putting points in the board really fast...
“The guys picked it up, so we did what we had to do.”

Derek Pegues DB

On how you feel about the game...
“It was devastating; I couldn’t enjoin the game like I wanted to. We were down so many points that I think we were aggregated and couldn’t come back.”

On the passes by JaMarcus Russell...
“He was throwing the ball really hard. We gave him too much time to make the plays and the plays he made scored points. We didn’t stay deep enough. We need to pick it up and play harder.”

On how good LSU’s offensive line is...
“We knew they were good, I thought we were going to hang in there longer than we did. Sometimes when we play big teams we fall behind fast and we don’t come back hard enough to win. We had a good week at practice and came out here hard, but it did not pay off. We didn’t come out and execute like we should.”

On how they fell behind quickly...
“It had to do with the secondary and defensive line. We had a lot of pressure. The secondary wasn’t doing there job and we weren’t watching the ball like we should have.

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