We knew our defense was going to keep us in the game. We’ve just got to start clicking earlier.” KADRON BOONE, LSU wide receiver
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Before an interception by Jalen Collins with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left in Saturday’s first half, the Texas A&M offense had run 53 plays and LSU had run only 25.
The Tigers went three-and-out on three of their first four possessions, failing to give their defense much of a breather as the Aggies surged to an early 12-point lead.
The LSU offense never got fully untracked in a 24-19 victory, but quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the running game did just enough to help the Tigers reach their open date with a 3-1 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
“We’ve been there plenty of times before,” said LSU running back Michael Ford, who scooted for 78 yards on 11 carries, including a 20-yard touchdown. “All we can do is stay motivated, just keep our heads up and go out there and keep pounding the ball. Stay focused.”
Freshman running back Jeremy Hill was the star of the day for the LSU offense, rushing 18 times for 127 yards — 47 of them on a back-breaking touchdown for a 24-12 lead with 3:12 left.
Ford also stood out, especially on back-to-back plays that helped the Tigers get off the schneid late in the first half.
First, the junior running back raced 13 yards on a pitch from Spencer Ware, who had lined up under center on fourth-and-1 from the Texas A&M 33. Then, he swept the right end for the first of two touchdowns LSU would score in a stretch of two frantic minutes.
After the LSU defense forced its second turnover to again give LSU’s offense good field position,
Mettenberger went over the top to hit a diving Kadron Boone, whose touchdown reception from 28 yards out made it a 14-12 game at the half.
But Mettenberger struggled otherwise, misfiring on several deep tries and finishing just 11 of 29 for 97 yards.
LSU went until the 6:11 mark of the third quarter before converting a third down. The Tigers were 0-for-9 on such occasions before that.
“We knew our defense was going to keep us in the game,” said Boone, who led all LSU receivers with 49 yards on four catches.
“We’ve just got to start clicking earlier.”
Little room for error remains.
Alabama comes to Tiger Stadium in two weeks with a defense that ranks first nationally in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense.
The Crimson Tide has pitched a pair of shutouts this season, not to mention last year’s 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS title game.
Coach Les Miles said one of the keys will be connecting on some of the deep passes the Tigers missed Saturday.
“We’re going to hit some of these deep shots eventually,” Miles said.
“If everybody’s going to stand around the ball, then we’re going to enjoy opportunities to throw it. Mettenberger can throw it now. We have to throw some more. We have to practice it more, and we’ll hit it next time.”