by SCOTT HOTARD
September 15, 2012
“I love to pin ’em deep and then go watch the defense play down there. ... They just play extra vicious when they’re down there toward our end zone.” BRAD WING, LSU punter
The way third-ranked LSU went on to dominate Washington in a 41-3 win Saturday night, it was probably only a matter of time before the Tigers took control of their outmanned opponent.
But the game happened to turn on Brad Wing’s left foot.
After the Huskies had gone ahead 3-0 after recovering an Odell Beckham Jr. fumble on the opening kickoff, LSU was forced to punt from its own 34-yard line after gaining nary a yard on its first offensive possession.
Wing then booted his first punt of the season 62 yards against the wind, pinning Washington at its own 4.
“Just to get the defense good field position, we know no offense is really going to go 90 yards on them,” Wing said. “Or they’re going to have a lot of trouble.”
Here’s how the next few minutes played out.
LSU’s defense forced Washington into a quick three-and-out, Korey Durkee shanked a punt 32 yards to set up LSU at the Washington 38, and two offensive plays resulted in a 7-0 lead for the Tigers.
“A punter can truly be a weapon for you,” LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis said.
“Any time you can put (the opponent’s offense) back on the other end of the field, it’s a big advantage for us defensively.”
Wing was happy to be back doing what he does best after missing the season opener against North Texas with a nagging hamstring injury. Wing said he took seven days off from punting to give his leg some rest.
Trips to the cold tub and various leg exercises also helped.
“I feel as fresh as I ever have,” he said.
Wing finished his 2012 debut with three punts for 163 yards, good for an average of 54.3 yards per boot.
That’s the sort of performance LSU got time and again from Wing last year, watching him combine with a suffocating defense to help lead the Tigers to the Southeastern Conference championship.
Wing and the defense once again worked as a tandem Saturday night.
The Tigers allowed only one first down in the first quarter, gave up only 183 yards of total offense, and became the first opponent since 2010 to hold the Huskies without a touchdown.
Wing did his part to contribute, particularly with his momentum-turning rocket early in the first quarter.
“I love to pin ’em deep and then go watch the defense play down there,” Wing said.
“They run out on the field all pumped up after a punt like that so it sort of gives them momentum going into that next series. They just play extra vicious when they’re down there toward our end zone.”
LSU host Idaho on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium before opening Southeastern Conference play at Auburn on Sept. 22.