By scott hotard
September 28, 2012
“I’ve just been waiting for a fight. I’ve been waiting for hard times. A true warrior lives for those moments. I wouldn’t want it any other way.” Sam montgomery, LSU defensive tackle
AUBURN, Ala. — When the second-ranked LSU football team got to halftime Saturday night trailing by one, the Tigers hardly looked like the team expected to roll past Auburn as a three-touchdown favorite.
Coach Les Miles said Sam Montgomery was one of the players to voice his concerns.
“Just play like me,” Miles said Montgomery told his defensive teammates.
No statement could have been more direct — or more on point — given that Montgomery played most of the wobbly, 12-10 win like a man worthy of his many preseason accolades.
The junior defensive end entered LSU’s Southeastern Conference opener with only seven tackles through three games with 2.5 for a loss. He’d been sturdy enough off the edge, but he’d yet to unveil the next-level beast NFL scouts love.
Then again, this was the SEC opener.
“I’ve just been waiting for a fight,” Montgomery said. “I’ve been waiting for hard times. A true warrior lives for those moments. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Montgomery finished with four tackles, one sack and 3.5 tackles for loss, leading an LSU defense that held Auburn to 183 yards from scrimmage and pitched a much-needed shutout after halftime.
Granted, the Tigers weren’t always the nasty bunch they’re known to be.
Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen hauled in a 23-yard pass from quarterback Kiehl Frazier. Receiver Emory Blake had a 22-yard grab. Running back Tre Mason broke off a 26-yard gain. Onterio McCalebb had a run of 20 yards.
But Auburn got its only touchdown after a Zach Mettenberger fumble set the home team up with a short field.
LSU’s defense may have given up some big plays. But it also made some.
Auburn had 15 plays for negative yardage. Frazier was sacked four times.
“They bent a little bit, but they never broke,” LSU tackle Josh Dworaczyk said of the defense.
“I think that’s the identity our defense wants to have. You might get a big play here or there when we take a chance, but when it comes down to making a crucial stop, we have it.”
Montgomery led the charge, often overpowering an Auburn offensive line that started two sophomores and two freshmen.
And it’s what LSU had to have.
But Montgomery said he knew a defensive tug-of-war like Saturday’s would bring out the best in him. He was more pleased to see how his defensive teammates responded.
“You find out what a man is made of through adversity,” Montgomery said. “I know I have fighters.”