On his way out of the LSU team hotel Saturday, Odell Beckham Jr. spotted a line of fans queued up to get autographs from Tigers legend Billy Cannon.
A few hours later, Cannon, watching from a suite in the southeast corner of Tiger Stadium near where his name is written in lights on the east upper deck facade, had his eyes on Beckham as he reprised Cannon’s Halloween 1959 punt return against Ole Miss with an 89-yarder of his own against the Rebels.
“It was a beautiful punt return,” Cannon said Monday.
Cannon happened to be watching the game with another all-time LSU great, Tommy Casanova, who returned two punts for touchdowns in a 61-17 win over Ole Miss in 1970 in Tiger Stadium.
“Right before (Beckham’s return), Tommy turned to me and said, ‘It’s about time for a punt return,’ ” Cannon said. “I said, ‘They’d better not wait much longer.’ ”
Traveling on a similar path to Cannon’s epic return from the south end zone to the north, Beckham started left, cut right and sped up the Rebels’ sideline, crossing the goal line with 9:10 to play.
Cannon’s score, the only touchdown in a 7-3 LSU victory that night, came with exactly 10:00 left.
Cannon said he had to see a replay before he knew Beckham’s return had also covered 89 yards.
“He got my heart beating fast,” Cannon said.
Beckham said he didn’t know he had matched the distance Cannon covered against Ole Miss until after the game.
“I was shocked,” he said.
Beckham said he has seen film of Cannon’s famous return and deferred to the Heisman Trophy winner’s play.
“He made more than one or two people miss,” said Beckham, who eluded two tackles, then went untouched.
LSU coach Les Miles said freshman linebacker Kwon Alexander likely will travel with the team and could play in the Tigers’ regular-season finale Friday at Arkansas (1:30 p.m., CBS).
A true freshman, Alexander worked his way into the starting lineup at strongside linebacker before he suffered a broken ankle Oct. 6 at Florida. At first it was expected that he could return by LSU’s bowl game, but Alexander tweeted earlier this month that he might be back before then.
Miles was less optimistic about the return this week of former starting tailback Alfred Blue, out since suffering a knee injury Sept. 15 against Idaho. Miles also said tight end Nic Jacobs, who was held out of the Ole Miss game for unspecified reasons, is not yet cleared to return to the team and may not play in the bowl, either.
Miles started his final weekly media luncheon Monday with an apology for uttering a profanity during his remarks after the Ole Miss game.
“I first would like to ask your indulgence for my choice of language Saturday night after the game,” Miles said. “I thought it was impertinent and poor. It is not something that I want to repeat.”
Miles used a profanity during a spirited and rambling postgame address in which he was extolling the virtues of his seniors who had just played their final home game.
Miles’ comments have drawn nationwide attention from media and social media alike. One video of his comments had drawn nearly 690,000 views on YouTube as of Monday night.
LSU’s passing game has made a lot of noise in the past three games, but Zach Mettenberger quietly accomplished something not done by a Tigers quarterback in 23 years.
He’s the first LSU passer to throw for 250 or more yards in three straight Southeastern Conference games since Tommy Hodson in 1989. Mettenberger threw for 298 against Alabama, 273 against Mississippi State and 282 against Ole Miss.
“We had a couple of turnovers (on interceptions against the Rebels), but we’ve shown we can be a very efficient passing offense,” said Mettenberger, who was 22 of 37 Saturday with two interceptions and no touchdowns. “Hopefully we can do that the rest of this year and into next year.”
Mettenberger and the Tigers should have a chance to remain successful through the air at Arkansas. The Razorbacks rank last in the SEC, allowing 292.1 passing yards per game.
For the season, Mettenberger is 177 of 300 for 2,272 yards with 10 TDs and six interceptions. He ranks ninth in the SEC in passing yards but already ranks eighth all-time in LSU single-season passing yards. He needs 136 yards to pass Matt Flynn (2,407 in 2007) for seventh.
“Death, taxes and the SEC. We’re coming.”
— Miles on the SEC’s chances of winning a seventh straight BCS championship
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