A win’s a win, right?
That’s how No. 2 LSU feels following a 12-10 victory and escape of Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night.
The Bayou Bengals flat out dominated unranked Auburn in just about every statistic except the final score. First downs: 15-9; Total yards: 351-183; Rushing yards; 182-86; Passing yards: 169-97; Time of possession: 33:11-26:49.
The reason for the tightness of the game came in two main factors. First, LSU turned the ball over twice. One took a likely touchdown off the board at the one yard line(although LSU got a safety on the next play) and another set Auburn up in position to score a touchdown. That’s a 12-point swing as opposed to Auburn’s pair of turnovers that led to just three LSU points.
Secondly, the Tigers committed nine penalties for 80 yards including four personal foul penalties. They seemingly all came in critical junctures that either killed LSU drives or hindered field position.
Miles was adamant about fixing both errors following the game, but he admitted that he’ll always take a road victory at Auburn.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger played a great game considering the struggling offensive line, running game and wide receivers around him. The stats won’t show it with 15-for-27 passing for 169 yards and no touchdowns, but he made chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what quite often in Saturday’s game. Plus he was money on third down.
Spencer Ware led LSU’s backs with 95 yards on 16 carries. He ran angry. Michael Ford had LSU’s only rushing score on a one-yard scamper around left end and had 42 yards on eight carries. Kenny Hilliard added 40 more on 10 rushes.
Defensively, LSU was sick, led by DE Sam Montgomery. He had an unworldly 3.5 tackles for loss.
Add a safety for good measure, and the defense got on the scoreboard.
There was an obvious sense of relief in the LSU locker room. The Tigers were pleased to win at Auburn for only the second time this millennium, but they definitely knew that there were mistakes from today’s performance that need to be corrected. After all, LSU was about a 20-point favorite and only won by two. Namely turnovers, penalties and offensive line play were the problem areas. Blame the O-Line for both turnovers. Elliott Porter and Zach Mettenberger combined to fumble a snap at the Auburn one-yard line, and Miles made no bones about blaming it on Porter after the game (A hobbled Lonergan was injured earlier in the drive, but he gutted it out from that point forward). Then, Josh D. was overmatched by Corey Lemonier on many occasions, and on one in particular, he stripped Mettenberger. LSU’s penalties were a disaster all evening. But LSU won, and the players and coaches won’t forget that plain and simple fact on the flight home tonight.
“Suddenly, instead of having certainly a different score, we’re in a dog fight start to finish. We were sloppy. It’s interesting. We practice an ability not to have penalties, but what happens is guys lose their poise, and this is a tremendous lesson for us. It’s certainly something that we will be able to teach from in a very aggressive manner… When you fumble on the one-yard line, that’s a miserable place to turn the ball over. It’s interesting that we get the two and then obviously take the lead with seven but when you compound the fumble, it should have been seven nothing and then maybe 14 nothing, the issue then is turnovers. There’s nothing good about turning the ball over.”
-Miles on goal line fumble and penalties
“I’m more surprised about the penalties. We get nine for 80. I promise you that’s something that we gotta fix. And it was all nick-nack stuff. There were spots to a hit. Those things we talked about coming in here and we’ll get them fixed. There will be some extra duties… I think really it was the first tight game and first real competitive game that we were in and I think that there was a want to be competitive and stand our ground. There was some of that. Maybe lack of poise and so we’ll address that.”
-Miles on penalties some more
“Frankly, defense played extremely well, played better in second half. The offense mounted a drive when it needed to. We were tested and answered the call. Not perfect. Work to but we’ll take a victory on the road at Auburn.”
-Miles on defense and winning
“Honestly I liked him. There are some things that he did wrong certainly. There were some positions that we put him in that didn’t favor him. Some guys that were supporting him did some things that they shouldn’t have but what he showed was character and toughness and really made the plays that he needed to make in crunch time We’ll be able to build off that I believe.”
-Miles on Mettenberger’s performance
“Words can’t describe how I feel for how our defense played tonight. They bent a little bit, but they never broke. That’s the mindset of our defense, they might get a big play, but when it comes down to the crunch time for the stop, we have it.”
-LT Josh Dworaczyk on LSU’s defense
“It’s a play that we have in our playbook that we’ve just never run, really. Actually, I was a little bit surprised that we ran it. It was a crucial time, and we had to do what we had to do to win the game.”
-RB Spencer Ware on his 33-yard reception late in the 4th quarter