LSU's second-half wave buries Georgia
December, 3, 2011
By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com
ATLANTA – Like waves rolling over rocks, the Tigers just keep coming.
Sometimes, there’s a lull – that moment of naivety – where it seems like the surge won’t come. But that feeling is always temporarily, as the Tigers find a way to kick their game into another gear.
“You want to be like a machine and you just keep on working,” LSU offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert said.
That machine has proved to be unstoppable for 13 weeks now, as the Tigers are headed to the Allstate BCS National Championship Game riding an undefeated season and the endurance to maul anyone.
This team not only doesn’t understand how to quit, it gets stronger as the clock ticks. Opponents can take leads or find weak spots, but that lasts long enough just to make LSU mad.
It happened last week when LSU outscored Arkansas 41-3, after trailing 14-0, and it happened again in the SEC title game, when Georgia jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first half.
The Tigers found their switch, flicked it on, and went to pounding Georgia into the artificial surface inside of the Georgia Dome.
After spending the first 30 minutes setting offenses back 100 years, the Tigers strutted out in the second half with their usual bully demeanor. As usual, the defense feasted and the LSU ground game went to clubbing away.
LSU ran for a measly 5 yards in the first half, but at the end of the Tigers’ 42-10 victory over Georgia had 207 debilitating rushing yards against the beat-up Bulldogs.
It was a complete change from a first half that featured some pretty revolting play by quarterback Jordan Jefferson. He was 2-of-8 passing for 7 yards and was getting eaten up in the pocket.
He overthrew and underthrew open receivers, while trying his hardest to turn the ball over with throws into double coverage.
In the second half, Jefferson and his coaches turned to handing the ball off more and it worked. Jefferson said his running backs took the pressure off him and bailed him out.
When you have four backs who average 223 pounds of pure hurt, it isn’t that hard to get on a ground-game roll.
“We’re very powerful because there are too many of us back there,” said running back Alfred Blue, who led all rushers with 94 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run. “We knew going into halftime that we were down and their defense was going to eventually wear out and we were going to start pounding them.”
And did they.
LSU transformed in the second half. That solid Georgia defense that entered the game fifth in total defense and sixth against the run, looked tired and hopeless before the third quarter even ended.
Tyrann Mathieu got LSU’s 42-0 run going with his 62-yard punt return for a score, but an Aaron Murray fumble and another scintillating Mathieu return nearly buried the Bulldogs as they set up LSU’s first two offensive scores almost minutes apart.
It all cascaded down on the Bulldogs when Kenny Hilliard, the man behind LSU’s first two third-quarter touchdowns, bulldozed over a helpless Brandon Boykin before walking into the end zone on an 8-yard reception to make it 28-10.
“When someone punches you in the mouth, you can either back down or you can come and punch them right back,” Hebert said.
LSU punched, kicked and totally had its way with Georgia. LSU forced three turnovers, harassed a completely flustered Murray and made Georgia’s running game nonexistent until garbage time.
Dale Zanine/US PresswireKenny Hilliard had three touchdowns -- two rushing, one receiving -- in the third quarter.
As frustrated as Murray looked after the handful of drops his receivers delivered him in the first half, the downtrodden expressions he showed in the second half appeared far more painful.
But it was the Georgia defense that looked even more abused. This group outplayed LSU’s offense in the first half, but didn’t have enough steam thereafter.
“It happens to every team we play,” Blue said. “We know we’re a four-quarter team and once we start going, it’s on.”
And the waves just keep coming.