September 24, 2012
His play tonight looked to be pretty good from where I was standing, and it gives Craig Loston another week to heal and come back.” LES MILES, LSU coach
Ronald Martin got his first career start Saturday night in place of injured strong safety Craig Loston.
You could say the sophomore from White Castle High School took the opportunity and ran with it.
Martin intercepted two passes in a 63-14 shellacking of Idaho, including one he returned 45 yards for the first of LSU’s two defensive touchdowns. They were the first two picks of his career.
“Just trying to stay focused, get out there and give it my all on every down,” Martin said. “Try to be a leader out there for those young guys.”
Another key to Martin’s big night: staying close to freshman cornerback Jalen Collins, who deflected both of the passes by Dominique Blackman that Martin intercepted.
On the first, Martin dove to corral a tipped ball, setting LSU up for its second touchdown and a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
On the second, Martin ran underneath a ball that Collins volleyed high in the air, then raced the distance down the left sideline for a 21-7 edge.
Collins was in perfect position against Idaho receiver Jahrie Level and played textbook defense on the tip that led to the second pick.
“The play by Collins really was the play,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “He gets his hand in the air and on the ball.”
As the play unfolded, Martin said he didn’t anticipate a second interception.
“I was going to go for the hit,” said Martin, a two-sport star at White Castle who led the Bulldogs to state titles in football and basketball as a senior. “I thought Jalen was going to intercept it.”
Martin will likely move back into a reserve role for next week’s Southeastern Conference opener at Auburn, but Miles was pleased with the play of Loston’s fill-in.
Loston, a first-year starter, missed the game with a lingering toe injury.
Martin finished the night with five tackles, tied for fourth on the team. He had played in only five career games before Saturday’s start.
“His play tonight looked to be pretty good from where I was standing, and it gives Craig Loston another week to heal and come back,” Miles said.
Martin said he will continue to be patient, wait his turn and do his part when the Tigers need him.
“When I get the opportunity, I’ve just got to keep performing and keep playing hard each and every down,” he said.
Next time, Martin said, he plans to tip a ball or two into the hands of Collins, whom he owes for Saturday’s helping hand.
“Yeah,” Martin said with a smile. “I got him.”