BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 15 LSU entered Saturday’s game against MSU with 10 sacks, tops in the nation. It only had one against the Bulldogs, but the pressure was a big factor in the five interceptions the Tigers made.
One of Tyler Russell’s three picks was nearly a fumble, as cornerback Tyrann Mathieu busted up the middle and hit Russell’s arm, popping out the ball. Tackle Drake Nevis cradled it and set up the Tigers at MSU’s 28-yard line.
The ensuing touchdown gave LSU a 26-7 lead late in the third quarter and sealed the game.
“The preparation we had, we knew what they were going to bring, and we just didn’t execute that,” said guard Quentin Saulsberry. “It’s not a fact of how many people they bring, it’s a fact of we’ve got to prepare more.”
LSU had seven tackles-for-loss. Coach Dan Mullen was disappointed that his offensive line, which returns four starters from last year, didn’t do better with the simple things.
“We just missed a couple of base, base things that we should pick up,” he said. “Really disappointed. We have a veteran offensive line; they were simple, simple things we missed on the offensive line tonight that we need to get fixed.”
Clark steps up again
• One of the few bright spots for Mississippi State’s offense was receiver Arceto Clark.
The third-year sophomore from Shannon continues to prove himself a reliable ball-catcher, especially in the clutch. He had three catches for 48 yards against the Tigers, including a 17-yarder on the Bulldogs’ only touchdown drive, and a 25-yard grab on third-and-13 on the next drive.
“He made a couple of nice catches, did it last week,” Mullen said. “We need those guys to learn to step up and take it up another level. Most programs are playing with receivers that have been around for a couple of years. We’re playing with all really young guys that are all basically first- or second-year players.”
For the season, Clark has seven catches for 95 yards.
• Quarterback Chris Relf was banged up in the third quarter, taking what Mullen thought was a helmet-to-helmet shot at the end of a 13-yard run. Tyler Russell came in, and Relf did not return to the game.
“Tyler came in played well in his first drive,” Mullen said. “At that point, there was no need to even – we’ll get Chris checked out. But they said he was fine to go back in.”
Mullen was told by trainers that Relf should be fine for the next game against Georgia. Relf’s final line Saturday: 5 of 8 for 35 yards, two interceptions passing; seven carries for 46 yards.
• After MSU drew within 12-7 in the third quarter, LSU responded with a 60-yard scoring drive capped by quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s 19-yard TD run with 5 minutes, 16 seconds left in the period.
Key number: 5
• Number of turnovers, all interceptions, committed by MSU. They led to 16 LSU points.
• “As an offensive unit, it’s our job to put the points on the board, and we weren’t able to do that tonight..” – MSU quarterback Tyler Russell
• MSU returns home to take on Georgia, which lost to Arkansas on Saturday, 31-24, and is 0-2 for the first time since 1993.
• Tight end Marcus Green, who injured his knee in the previous game against Auburn, did not make the trip. He had 100 yards receiving vs. LSU last year. … After three kickoff returns for 47 total yards in the first half, Chad Bumphis was replaced by Maurice Langston, who had one return for 29 yards. …. LSU’s five interceptions were its most in a game since it had six against MSU in 2007.
BRAD LOCKE / NEMS Daily Journal