LSU safety Corey Thompson runs between Texas A&M linebacker Steven Jenkins and defensive back Howard Matthews, No. 31, during the second half Saturday in College Station, Texas. LSU won 24-19. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 8:21 PM
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Tigers did a lot of things good and bad Saturday, but they never panicked.
And maybe that was the key for LSU slipping out of Kyle Field with a 24-19 victory over Texas A&M while leaving the Aggies to gush over some gaudy statistics.
“We felt like it was a matter of time,” LSU head coach Les Miles said. “We would get on track, solve the issues and make some plays.”
The Tigers, down 12-0 early, eventually forced five turnovers, which was the best way to slow down elusive A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, and came in quite handy during another offensive struggle for LSU.
The No. 6-ranked Tigers improved to 7-1, 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference against a Texas A&M team that is probably still trying to figure out how it fell to 5-2, 2-2.
“Our offense did just enough,” Miles said.
LSU passed for 97 yards, but freshman Jeremy Hill had his second consecutive impressive game with 127 yards rushing, including a 47-yard touchdown sprint that all but put the game away for a 24-12 LSU lead late in the fourth quarter.
It probably wouldn’t have mattered, however, if LSU hadn’t found a way to slow down Manziel, the SEC’s total offense leader.
“Right now we’re just happy to get out of here with a victory,” LSU safety Eric Reid said.
Texas A&M outgained LSU 410-316, but the Tigers’ defense also forced five turnovers — LSU had none — and slowed down the Aggies for a long stretch after A&M jumped to a quick 12-0 lead.
“Had we played a game that we had (lost some) turnovers the game might have been much different outcome,” Miles said.
The game turned on two rapid-fire turnovers late in the second quarter. The Tigers used their first hint of offense for a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of the half.
LSU did not threaten until Jalen Collins intercepted Manziel at the Tigers’ 42-yard line, setting up a 20-yard scoring run by Michael Ford.
“We knew our defense was going to keep us in the game,” LSU wide receiver Kadron Boone said. “We just had to have somebody step up and make a play.”
Moments later Lamin Barrow recovered a fumble at the Aggies 40-yard line and that somebody turned out to be Boone.
Zach Mettenberger, who often struggled while completing 11 of 29 passes, lofted up a 29-yard toss that Boone made an acrobatic, over-the-shoulder catch for a touchdown.
“That felt good,” said defensive end Barkevious Mingo. “They had many more yards than us but we had the lead at the half.”
Mainly they kept their poise and focus.
LSU looked dazed after Manziel scrambled and threw the Aggies to an early 12-0 lead.
“We didn’t have a good handle on it,” defensive coordinator John Chavis said. “It’s hard to simulate them with a scout team.When we got adjusted to the speed, I felt good.”
Chavis said he also changed personnel, going mostly with six defensive backs against the spread looks of the Aggies.
“Beyond the first quarter, we felt like that was our defense, how it plays,” Miles said. “They rallied, got their feet set and said let’s go play.”
After taking the 12-0 lead, the Aggies didn’t score again until the final two minutes of the game.
“We wanted to pressure them from the outside,” Chavis said. “It was better to do it with the (six defensive backs).”
Manziel threw 56 times, completing 29 for 276 yards, but he was held to 27 yards on the ground after coming in as the SEC’s leading rusher.
It wasn’t for lack of trying as he sprinted all over the field most of the day.
“It wasn’t fun chasing Manziel all day,” said Mingo, who had one of LSU’s three sacks. “We did a good job, but it wasn’t fun. I’m still sweating.”
“What was key was that we pressured the quarterback, had breaks on the ball, had tipped balls, made plays to give us a short field and the opportunity at drives,” Miles said. “We count on that from our defense, that’s how our defense plays.”
LSU now gets a week off before a showdown at home with No. 1-ranked Alabama.
“My team came on the road, got behind, defense had to get their feet set, understand what’s going on,” Miles said. We got comfortable with the scheme, how to chase the quarterback.
“I like my team.”
Posted By: Bruce Hebert On: 10/22/2012
Title: Like your team? Yes. Your quarterback? Not so much
Les Miles actually managed to downgrade at the QB position this year. Never thought I'd miss the good old days of Jefferson and Lee, but they would make this team better than Mettenberger. He appears overmatched in virtually every aspect of the game. He has no innate sense of when he is getting pressure, and the good QB's have that. And when he scrambles, it's like watching a slow-motion train wreck. But at least he's consistent: He consistently misses wide open receivers. You'd think that based on just the law of averages, he'd hit one once in a while. Oh, and by the way, he appears aloof and separated from his teammates, who are trying their level best to overcome his sloppy, uninspired play. And Les Miles has shown loyalty to bad QB's before, so I'm afraid we're in for another year of this garbage next year. For all his recruiting skills, he can't seem to recruit good signal callers.