Sunday, 16 October 2011 18:54

LSU Tigers Defense Dominated Tennessee, Looks At BCS Rank

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Les Miles

LSU's swarming defense out-muscled Tennessee and got a 89-yard interceptions return to spark the Tigers to a 38-7 shellacking of the Volunteers on Saturday before 102,000 at Neyland Stadium.

The No. 1-ranked Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC) now have won four road games and defeated four-ranked opponents, They outgained the Vols in the second half, 222-61 as they wore out Tennessee. The Vols fell to 3-3 over-all and 0-3 in SEC play, while LSU won for the ninth time in series history. It was only the Tigers' third win in Knoxville.  The first BCS poll will be released Sunday evening and the college football nation is looking to see if LSU will remain on top.    

Claiborne helped break open a scoreless game late in the first quarter with the big return, the third-longest in Tigers history. Two plays later, Rueben Randle caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Lee, and the route was on.

Lee finished 10-of-14 passing for 115 yards and two touchdowns, while backup Jordan Jefferson entered early in the second quarter and finished 1-of-3 passing for eight yards. However, Jefferson was effective on the ground, gaining 73 yards on 14 carries with a 3-yard touchdown.

After the game, LSU coach Les Miles said he liked the two-quarterback system. "I like using both quarterbacks," said the coach. "It's what's best, what we need to do. Both guys can do different things. We like to play both and will continue to do that."

Here's Miles' take on the game: "I don't know if this was our best game, but we did things we needed to do to win games, and there's great incentive for our team to improve. I like the positron we're in."

Vols coach Derek Dooley, a former LSU assistant, said Spencer Ware's smash over from a yard out in the third quarter was a big play in the game.

"We were down by 17 until they scored that touchdown after we had held them to a third and seven. That was the dagger play. They just wear you down."

Ware led the Tigers on the ground as he scored two touchdowns both running and receiving -- for the first time since Earl Doucet in 2006. Ware had 80 yards on 23 yards and caught a 13-yard screen pass from Lee for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Russell Shepard score his first touchdown of the season on a 14-yard lateral pass.; He finished with three carries for 33 yards.

The Tigers' running game was kept in check early because the offensive line wasn't opening any holes. That changed later.

The Tigers controlled the clock, holding the Vols to only three possessions in the second half and maintaining a 15-minute advantage in time of possession as Tigers backs pounded the Vols.

Tigers defensive coordinator John Chavis, who celebrated his 55th birthday on Saturday, was teary-eyed after the game. He held the same position with the Vols for 14 years but was a victim of the purge when Philip Fulmer was fired in 2008.

"So I'm a big softie," said Chavis, wiping his eyes. "Call me a big crybaby or whatever you want," he told "When you leave a program and you didn't get the chance to leave the way you wanted to, it's a great feeling to know that people still care about you."

Chavis was handed the game ball in the Tigers locker room.

The way Chavis defense played was a blast from the past -- aggressive up front and opportunistic in the secondary.

Tennessee? They play more of the same against Alabama next Saturday.

by Ed Staton

...(Visit Louisiana Sports for your LSU and Saints jerseys.)

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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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