Monday, 10 January 2011 16:23

LSU Beat Texas A&M In Cotton, Loses Key Seniors

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The emotions were flowing as LSU coach Les Miles hugged his players and joined them in singing the Tigers fight song after a 41-24 victory over Texas A&M on Friday night in the 75th AT&T Cotton Bowl in Cowboys Stadium at Arlington, Tex.

It may have been the end of the season, but the future never looked so bright for the 11th-ranked Tigers as their fans saw a coming out party for some of the new blood on national television although they will be without some of their senior leaders -- Kelvin Sheppard, Drake Nevis, Josh Jasper, Joseph Barksdale and Terrence Toliver.

Toliver tied LSU's bowl record and a Cotton Bowl record with three receiving touchdowns as the Tigers overcame a 10-0 first-quarter deficit to hammer the No. 18-ranked Aggies.

The Hempstead, Tex., native who grew up 45 miles from College Station was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player after catching five passes for 112 yards. His three scores went for 42, 2 and 41 yards.

With the likes of Sheppard, Nevis and All-American Patrick Peterson on one of the  nation's best defenses, it was true freshman cornerback Tyran Mathieu of St. Augustine High who earned the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award after collecting an interception, a fumble, seven tackles including a sack.

Running back Stevan Ridley led the Tigers in rushing with 105 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown. Freshman Spencer Ware was right behind with 10 carries. for 102 yards.

"We got great effort from our offensive line tonight," said Ware. "I got the creases I needed to get through, and the fullback did a great job of clearing the way."

"I think our offensive line really said this is a challenge they wanted," said  Miles. "They played to that challenge."

"For our run game, I  thought we were doing a real good job of dominating the line of scrimmage," said Tigers offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.

Jasper overcame an early  44-yard missed field goal to make from 50 and 26 yards to cap the greatest season in the history of Tigers placekickers. He made a school record 28-of-34 attempts.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson had thrown four touchdown passes in 12 games entering this game, including just two in his past 11 games.

He pulled himself together after throwing a costly interception on the Tigers' opening drive, but he didn't seem to make another mistake the rest of the night.

"I really couldn't let that turnover really define us as a team," said Jefferson, who bounced back with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Toliver.

"I came back with the deep ball call after the interception when we got in the right situation," said Crowton. "Jordan stood in there, took a big hit, but got the touchdown. I knew we'd be all right from that point on because we were going to run the ball. We pound it there."

"I thought Jefferson threw the ball about as good as I've seen him throw on tape," said Aggies coach Mike Sherman. "He was decisive, aggressive and accurate."

Jefferson completed 10-of-19 passes for 158 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 67 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown.

"We had some adversity at the beginning, but we stayed together as a unit," said Nevis. "We picked up our focus and improved our technigue. They came out very fast and that was new to us. Defensive linecoach Brock Haley made the right corrections after we came out a little sluggish."

Miles is being mentioned as a leading candidate for the vacant Michigan coaching job, but the Wolverines haven't contacted him.

"This (LSU) is a wonderful place," said Miles. "I honestly love it here."

But the question seems to be will that love be enough to convince Miles to stay at LSU as he did three years ago when Michigan came a calling after the Tigers had won the national championship?

Many believe Miles has grown weary of a fan base in Baton Rouge that will never be satisfied with anything less than a national championship.


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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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