Friday, July 13, 2007

Tiger Football 48 Days Away and Counting

There are 48 days until the start of the 2007 LSU football season, and it can't come soon enough for me. The full Tiger squad is at LSU at this time taking part in volunteer Summer workouts, except for Ryan Perrilloux and Ricky Jean Francois. The squad including five invited walk-ons will officially start Fall practice on August 03 with the full coaching staff. All other walk-ons will begin practicing with the team the day that classes start in the Fall semester.

Coach Les Miles will be entering his third season at LSU with a 22-4 record and with high expectations from the news media and LSU fans. LSU is loaded with great talent at each position with a mixture of experience and young talent with great potential. In my opinion, the 2007 team has as much talent as the 2003 national championship team and as much talent as the 2006 team that finished third in all of the major polls.

If the 2007 team has any weakness, it would be lack of depth in the offensive line and at wide receiver. In my opinion, the 2007 starting line of Brett Helms at center, Will Arnold and Herman Johnson at the two guard positions, and Ciron Black and Carnell Stewart is better than the 2006 starting OL but not as deep. Ryan Miller, Lyle Hitt, Matt Allen and Andrew Decker are the key backup offensive linemen. I am very worried about replacing Dwayne Bowe and Buster Davis at the wide receiver position. Early Doucet is rock solid but there is a huge drop off after Doucet. Brandon Lafell showed some signs in 2006 of being an SEC caliber receiver and I believe that Terrance Tolliver will have a solid season. Trindon Holiday, Chris Mitchell, Jared Mitchell and Ricky Dixon have unproven talent. Certainly, Holiday has great potential as a special teams player.

I know that some of you are probably saying "How about the quarterback position?" LSU will not be able to replace JaMarcus Russell in terms of size, arm strength and potentials as a great pro quarterback, but Matt Flynn will do a great job, in my opinion. The 2007 season will be Flynn's fifth year at LSU and he understands the system and has earned the respect of the coaching staff and players. I am not one bit worried about the quarterback position as long as Flynn stays in good heath.

In other football news of interest: Rolando Melancon, a 6'2", 290, DT from Lutcher that signed with Tennessee, is enrolling at City College of San Francisco for the next two seasons because of grade problems. I wish Melancon well in junior college and I hope that LSU will work hard to sign him in two years.

In recruiting news, Les Miles appears to be in great shape with all of the remaining top rated players in the state and in great shape with four or five highly recruited out of state players.

Below is some great baseball news from the LSU Sports Information office to the news media.

Ole Miss Football: Wide Receiver Analysis

Filled with youth and inexperience headed into last season, the wide receiving corps was virtually unknown. This year, the group will be relied upon to help upgrade a passing game that ranked 110th nationally in 2006.

A unit which leaned heavily on the contributions of underclassmen, Ole Miss finished the season ranked last in passing offense in the SEC at a mere 136.1 average. However, the wideouts were responsible for 130 of the team’s 134 receptions. Improving the group as a whole was of priority in the spring, and the unit did not fail to impress.

With numerous playmakers at wide receiver, offensive coordinator Dan Werner has plenty of ammunition in the arsenal to attack opposing defenses in a variety of ways. With every contributor returning from last season, the wide receiving corps enters the fall with determination and confidence to drive the Rebel offense to a higher level.

Leading the way is sophomore Dexter McCluster, who compiled the third-most all-purpose yards on the team in his freshman campaign despite missing the last half of the season with injury. Appearing in six games, McCluster tallied 574 all-purpose yards including 274 by kick return, 232 by receiving and 68 on the ground. He also compiled the fourth-highest all-purpose total in Ole Miss history in his first career start with 268 all-purpose yards against Memphis.

Equipped with superior speed and playmaking ability, McCluster can terrorize defenses when used at any position. Versatile enough to line up at running back or wideout, he is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. McCluster requires extra attention from opposing coaches, and his ability to stay healthy will be essential towards the Rebels’ offensive success this season.

At 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Marshay Green is an elusive playmaker, cut from a similar mold as McCluster. Possessing the ability to change direction instantaneously, Green appeared in all 12 games in 2006 with one start at wide receiver and finished second on the team with 786 all-purpose yards. A threat in the return game as well, Green is dangerous in the open field and is a prototypical slot receiver with great range and quickness.

He recorded three catches for 27 yards and a nine-yard touchdown in the spring game, and is a core component in the Rebels’ offensive scheme. The ability of the coaches to get the ball in his hands will be key for the unit in the fall.

Referred to by head coach Ed Orgeron as one of the most improved players on the team in the spring, Shay Hodge had a team-leading five receptions for 65 yards in the Red-Blue game. He saw action in every game last season, making two starts at flanker, and ranked third on the team with 16 receptions for 193 yards. The 6-foot-1, 196 pounder is of good size and provides the corps with a true possession receiver. Needing to work on his consistency in the spring, Hodge labored diligently to improve his hands and footwork, emerging as the starter at split end heading into camp.

The veteran of the group as a junior, Mike Wallace started all 12 games at split end a year ago, leading the team in catches (24) and receiving yards (410). Proving reliable throughout the duration of the year, Wallace averaged over 17 yards per reception, and in the spring, he recorded five grabs for 41 yards in the Red-Blue game. He is deep threat with sub 4.4 speed and the vocal leader of the group who will be counted on heavily to improve upon a solid sophomore performance.

One of the most athletic players on campus, Mico McSwain appeared in 11-of-12 games last season and earned two starts at flanker and one at running back. Although he missed spring drills to concentrate on academics, he is expected to be line up at wide receiver once fall practice begins. Displaying his versatility in 2006, McSwain finished third on the team with 140 rushing yards on 27 attempts and made five receptions for 19 yards on the season.

With his 6-foot-1, 203-pound frame, the former Freshman All-American tailback provides the unit with a big target down field that has the ability to elude oncoming defenders after the catch. If he settles in as a full-time receiver, McSwain could be a major factor in the passing game in the fall.

Michael Hicks appeared in 10 games and made two starts at flanker last year. He registered nine catches for 165 yards on the season and topped the team in yards per reception with an 18.3 average. He gives the coaching staff experience at the position, and he should contribute more in 2007.

Returning Starters: Dexter McCluster, Mike Wallace

Other Key Returnees: Marshay Green, Shay Hodge, Mico McSwain, Michael Hicks

Key Signees: Lionel Breaux, Roderick Davis, A.J. Jackson

Key Losses: none


Sophomore Dexter McCluster

On his progression since last season:

“Last year was my first year ever playing receiver in my life. I gained a lot more confidence in the position and in myself as a whole. Physically I am all clear, so when I go back out there I will already know what to expect.”

On the improvement of the unit over the summer:

“You can see we are getting better as a whole unit. We are working well together and catching a lot of balls without many drops. We are all on the same page and understand our assignments. We have definitely improved since last season and will continue to improve the more we work.”

On his role as an all-purpose player:

“To be honest, I like it. It is a lot more work, learning various positions, but I enjoy it. Any way I can contribute to the team, I’m all for it.”

On assistant coach Hugh Freeze now coaching the receivers:

“Coach Freeze has changed our entire attitude. He just lets us go out and play because he has confidence in all of us. We are all on the same page, and it has taken a lot of stress off all of us. Coach is really down to earth but hard working. He’s the man.”

On the depth of the group:

“We are going to scare a lot of teams this year. We have a lot of weapons with Marshay Green, Mike Wallace, Shay Hodge and myself. Now that we have experience under our belt, you never know what is going to happen. We have the potential to be explosive. There are a lot of options for us in the passing game.”

Junior Mike Wallace

On the improvement made throughout the offseason:

“We have to be able to pass the ball this year to win games. We are playing full speed every play in 7-on-7 drills, doing a lot of catching drills and just trying to be leaders. We’re going to be one of the strongest units on the team.”

On the experience gained from last season:

“The entire team’s confidence is at a high level. We have experience now from last season and feel we can play with anybody. As a group, we feel we lacked too much last year, and now we are ready to take that next step. It’s been a long time coming.”

On the group’s physical progression:

“We are in much better shape than we were in last year. Physically, Coach Aaron Ausmus is doing a great job of getting us prepared. Last year we could not find ways to finish games. With the physical maturation we have gone through this offseason, we should be able to do that.”

On how the battle at quarterback might affect the wide receivers:

“It does not matter who plays quarterback. We play well with whichever person is under center. As long as we can get the passing game going and get wins, it doesn’t matter to me who plays quarterback.”

On his outlook for next season:

“I expect us to win a lot of games next year. I know we are going to a bowl game, and that is not even a question in my mind. And I expect us to get to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. We have a lot of starters returning this year, so there are no excuses for us. We have to get it done.”

Final Analysis: Helped along by a productive spring, the progress of the wide receivers will be instrumental towards the success of the team in 2007.

At full health after sustaining head and shoulder injuries in the opening kickoff against Vanderbilt, Dexter McCluster supplies the Rebel offense with a multi-purpose talent that can be utilized at various positions. If he is able to maintain a full season without complications, look for McCluster to enjoy a break-out year for the Red and Blue.

Dangerous in every way, Marshay Green is poised for success next season. As a wide receiver and game-breaking returner, Green has the ability to change the face of a game in a matter of seconds with jaw-dropping change of direction and quickness. His ability to create will make him a fierce weapon for the Rebels.

Shay Hodge could become one of, if not the most, reliable receivers on the team next year if he continues to progress following a tremendous spring. A natural possession receiver, Hodge cut down on drops that plagued him last season and showed that he can be counted on for yardage when most needed.

A group that features multiple skill sets and talents, the wide receiver corps has the potential to be one of the most improved units on the team next season. Although much of the success in the passing game relies upon the performance of the quarterback position, the receivers should do their part to ensure that last year’s performance is not repeated. Through hard work and persistence, the group should be vastly better in 2007.

Sox Topple Blue Jays 7-4

For those looking for a harbinger of better things to come for the Red Sox in the season's second half, last night's 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays abounded with candidates, but none more encouraging than this:

For the first time in Fenway Park in 2007, and only the third time this season, David Ortiz and Manny Ramírez drove in multiple runs in the same game. Ortiz singled home a run in the first and doubled home another in the sixth, and Ramírez doubled home a run in the first, hit a sacrifice fly in the second, and singled home a run in the sixth. Ramírez entered the game in an 8-for-46 slump, while Ortiz was coming off a weekend in which he admitted his right knee was sore and may require a surgical procedure after the season.

After last night's victory, Ortiz elaborated on the condition of his knee, saying last year he had undergone an MRI that showed a small tear of the meniscus cartilage. He said last weekend in Detroit, and reiterated last night, that he sustained the injury in June of last season, when he got tangled up in the netting of the batting cage at Yankee Stadium. Ortiz said he did not have surgery last season because he did not have inflammation. "It wasn't bad, you know, it wasn't getting inflammation," Ortiz said.

"I have the same thing now, but it gets aggravated a little more. We may want to repair it at one point. It affects your hitting because I sit on my leg to hit and some days when I come in and it's sore I can't bend like I normally do. It makes me stand up more straight and makes me go forward too much."

Depending on the severity of the tear, it doesn't always require surgery. Former Sox outfielder Trot Nixon played all of 2005 with a meniscus tear before having surgery after the season; Jason Varitek missed over a month after having surgery last August to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee.

"I just don't want people to go crazy about it or anything, you know what I mean? The doctors know what I have."

The Sox got an additional scare when Ortiz fouled a ball off his right knee in the eighth inning, but he remained in the game. Had he given any thought to coming out? "I'd have to have a broken leg, dude," he said.

Beyond Ortiz and Ramírez, there was more evidence of a bullish start to the second half, one that kept the Sox 10 games ahead of the Yankees in the American League East and widened their lead to 11 over the Blue Jays:

The Sox once again roughed up Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who gave up a four-spot in the first inning, throwing 36 pitches before he got his first swing and miss. Halladay was gone after five innings, having thrown a staggering 112 pitches. The last time the Sox faced Halladay, he gave up 11 hits and seven runs in five innings and underwent an emergency appendectomy the next day. The former Cy Young Award winner has allowed five or more earned runs six times this season, including his last two outings.

"We did a good job making Halladay work," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

J.D. Drew, who was supposed to be the answer in the No. 5 hole, continues to thrive in the leadoff spot. Drew singled and scored in the first inning, walked and scored in the second, and has scored a dozen runs in 10 starts as leadoff man.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield reached double digits in wins, holding the Blue Jays to a couple of runs on six singles until Matt Stairs and Alex Rios hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning.

Kevin Youkilis, who had missed the previous five games and six of the last eight with tightness in his right quadriceps, walked twice and hit a ground ball to the right side to make sure the Sox added a fourth run off Halladay in the first.

Dustin Pedroia, served Halladay early notice he would have to work for everything. He fouled off five pitches in his first at-bat before drawing a full-count walk. Pedroia singled and scored in the sixth, and made a terrific backhanded stop for the third out of the Blue Jays first, with one run in and the Jays threatening to add more.

The bullpen, with Wakefield departing after the sixth, held the Blue Jays scoreless. Manny Delcarmen, looking like a key component of the pen, struck out Gregg Zaun with a 96-mile-per-hour fastball on the black, then retired the next two hitters on ground balls in an impressive seventh. Hideki Okajima escaped a first-and-third, two-out jam in the eighth, extending his scoreless streak to 14 appearances. Closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up a double to Zaun in the ninth but got his 21st save.

And shortstop Julio Lugo, with two hits, raised his average to .201, the first time he has been above the Mendoza Line since June 20. Lugo, who went 3 for 3 in Detroit, was generously awarded a single on his slow roller in the first, then lined a single in the third for a fifth straight hit before lining to left and reaching on an error in his last two at-bats.

Until this season, the Sox had never led by as many as 10 games at the All-Star break. But Papelbon, who wasn't born in '78, when the Sox blew a 14 1/2 game lead to the Yankees, warned that the Sox could not afford to become complacent.

"Very important, considering we got swept in Detroit," Wakefield said. "A welcome three days off for a lot of us, and great to be pitching in front of the home crowd and the idea was to have a victory, a good crisp game, and hopefully carry the momentum into the rest of the series."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO -- They took up an entire side of the room during Monday's All-Star media day.
This, after serving as precious cargo on Red Sox owner John W. Henry's Leerjet, which transported a six-pack of Red Sox All-Stars from Detroit to San Francisco on Sunday night.

The Red Sox are the only team in baseball this year to have six representatives at the All-Star Game. And perhaps that explains why they are the only team to have a 10-game lead at the break and why they lead all of Major League Baseball with 53 wins.

"What's really cool is in this whole entire room we've got six Red Sox players basically taking up this whole half of the room," said dominant closer Jonathan Papelbon. "That's really something to say not only about us being here, but about our entire team and about how we're playing well right now. We came off a tough series with the Tigers, but at the same time we had a great first half and we dedicate that to our team. That's why all six of us are here. It's a really cool thing to see."

An affable David Ortiz enjoyed having so much familiar company.

"That's cool," said Ortiz. "It means guys have been doing the right things. That's why we are where we are right now. We have a lot of guys performing the right way."

Big Papi, who has become a fixture at the All-Star Game, was joined on the Red Sox's side of the ballroom by Papelbon, Japanese lefty setup man Hideki Okajima, ace right-hander Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell.

Where was Manny Ramirez? The poster card was there with Ramirez's name on it and a table was set up for him. But that table remained empty for the entirety of the hour-long media session. However, several witnesses were there to verify that Ramirez did make the trip to San Francisco with his teammates.

"Manny is here. I think he might have checked into the wrong hotel or something, knowing him," quipped Papelbon. "He did come on the flight with us here. After that, I think he got lost."

Ortiz and Ramirez share a brotherly bond, and the former made it his personal responsibility to get the latter on board Henry's jet.

"I'll tell you the truth, I made sure he got to San Francisco," Ortiz said. "After that, I have no control over him. Actually, I had to put him on the airplane."

Ramirez hasn't spoken to the media all season. By now, players have become used to it, and even a little amused by it.

"It's more like, 'Where's Waldo?'" said Papelbon. "This guy shows up or he doesn't. We give him a hard time about it all the time. He just tries to be as private as he can."

The other Red Sox All-Star reps were more than happy to bask in the glow of the festivities.

What was the flight like?

"It was great," said Beckett. "We got to listen to Cinco Ocho [Papelbon] yell at Mike Lowell for beating him in cribbage the whole way, it was great."

The gesture by Henry was typical of the class treatment he has given his players since becoming owner of the team in 2002.

"That was big of John Henry to loan us his Leerjet and get us over here, because it would have been [tough] trying to fly out with the Tigers and everything," said Papelbon. "It was big league -- very nice jet."

The Red Sox as a team have been jet-setters. Even with some recent inconsistency, they come to the break in an extremely enviable position.

The All-Stars will try to make the organization look good in Tuesday's spectacle. Monday was about soaking it all in.

"We're proud that we're representing the organization well," said Lowell. "Our record shows that we've had a lot of guys having good first halves. It doesn't come from one guy. It's a true team effort with our guys and I think you see it a lot with the way that we win. It's not just one guy that puts up monster numbers. It could be a different guy each day."

The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss sophomore Dori Carter played her way into the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur on Monday, shooting a low-round of 69 to claim medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur qualifier in Newnan, Georgia, and earn a berth in the prestigious event.

Carter was one of 48 players competing for six spots in the U.S. Amateur at the event played at Summer Grove Golf Club. She competed in the 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur and also claimed a spot in the U.S. Open that season.

Carter hopes that experience will help her this season as she prepares to compete in the national event once again.

“It is amazing,” Carter said of claiming the qualifying event. “I played in the 2005 U.S. Amateur when I qualified. I didn’t play well, so going back this year gives me the opportunity to redeem myself. I am really glad I was able to go out and qualify again. It was kind of a slow start today, but was very exciting by the end, obviously.”

Ole Miss head golf coach Michele Drinkard agreed.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment to play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur,” Drinkard said. “To win medalist honors on the way to qualifying is just the icing on the cake.”

The 107th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will be held at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., August 6-12.
Here is one man's opinion of LSU's five most memorable games of the past athletic year. The games are listed in reverse order.

5. SOFTBALL: LSU 3, Tennessee 2
April 29, 2007 at Tiger Park

It was a showdown series for LSU and Tennessee on the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. The Tigers and Lady Vols had split a doubleheader on Saturday.

So, LSU had a chance to win the series and move into a tie for the Southeastern Conference lead with a victory on Sunday.

The Tigers took care of business by defeating Tennessee ace pitcher Monica Abbott 3-2 in the rubber game of the series before a crowd of 1,531 – the largest attendance for a single game in LSU softball history at Tiger Park.

Taking advantage of wildness by Abbott, the Tigers scored all of their runs in the second inning. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases.

A walk to Tayl'r Hollis forced home the first run. The other two runs scored on a sacrifice fly by Kristen Hobbs and a single by Jazz Jackson.

Emily Turner allowed one run in six innings. The Vols pulled within a run in the seventh on a one-out double. Turner was replaced Dani Hofer, who retired the next two batters on a ground out and a pop out to preserve the one-run lead.

4. MEN'S BASKETBALL: LSU 66, Florida 56
February 24, 2007 at Pete Maravich Assembly Center

The Tigers were near the end of a most disappointing basketball season. Only three games were remaining in the SEC schedule. The only race involving LSU was a competition with South Carolina to avoid the cellar.

Moreover, here comes Florida, fresh off clinching the SEC title and on its way to another national championship. Glen Davis was sitting out the game with the Gators due to a leg injury.

So, all the Tigers do is turn in their best outing of the SEC regular season and stun Florida 66-56. Garrett Temple led LSU with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Terry Martin contributed 18 points.

The Tigers made 51 percent of their field goal attempts and had a 35-22 rebounding advantage. The LSU defense limited the Gators to two 3-pointers in 17 attempts.

Sparked by two Temple 3-pointers, the Tigers made 10 of their first 12 shots from the floor in jumping out to a 24-12 lead. LSU, which held a 34-21 halftime advantage, saw its lead trimmed to eight points after a four-minute scoring drought right after halftime.

A basket by Martin got the Tigers back on track. LSU eventually built an 18-point cushion at 53-35.

3. FOOTBALL: LSU 28, Tennessee 24
November 4, 2006 at Neyland Stadium (Knoxville)

The Tigers found themselves in a must-win situation if they were going to have a special season. Facing a difficult schedule, LSU had dropped road games at Auburn and Florida. Now awaiting the Tigers was another challenging tilt away from Tiger Stadium.

Early in the third quarter, it did not look good for LSU when Demetrice Morley picked off a JaMarcus Russell pass and returned the ball 31 yards for a touchdown. The Tigers found themselves behind by ten points.

However, Russell would gather himself and guide LSU to three second-half touchdown drives. The third scoring march ended on a 4-yard Russell to Early Doucet pass with nine seconds left in the game which wiped out a 24-21 Volunteers lead.

The Tigers put together back-to-back scoring possessions to go ahead 21-17. A 77-yard series was climaxed by a 5-yard pass from Russell to Dwayne Bowe. Then, a 52-yard march culminated in a 7-yard scoring run by Keiland Williams.

LSU would suffer two fourth quarter turnovers – an interception by Russell and a fumble by Bowe – and fall behind on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Crompton to Robert Meachem.

The Tigers answered with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that used more than seven minutes. Russell converted a fourth-down situation with a completion to Doucet to keep the drive alive.

Russell accounted for 318 yards of offense – 247 through the air and 71 on the ground. Doucet caught eight passes for 73 yards, while Bowe snagged six passes for 89 yards.

2. WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: LSU 73, Connecticut 50
March 26, 2007 at SaveMart Center (Fresno)

Playing amidst the distractions of the Pokey Chatman departure, the Lady Tigers had a huge obstacle in their way of advancing to a fourth consecutive Final Four. LSU had to defeat Connecticut, which had stopped its 43-game home-winning streak in February.

All the Lady Tigers produced was their best outing of the season in the regional finals against UConn. LSU crushed the Huskies 73-50 to clinch another spot in the Final Four.

Acting head coach Bob Starkey got the Lady Tigers to turn in a complete game. Connecticut made a season low 33 percent of its field goal attempts. Sylvia Fowles blocked six shots and made three steals.

Offensively, LSU shot 48 percent from the field. But, the Lady Tigers were an uncharacteristic 7-of-10 from 3-point range. Freshman reserve Allison Hightower made three shots from behind the arc en route to 12 points.

Each of the five starters played a huge role in LSU's first victory in four tries against the Huskies. Fowles, who was 10-of-18 from the field, finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Ashley Thomas and Erica White provided 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Quianna Chaney scored just eight points, but she dished out five assists. RaShonta LeBlanc totaled seven rebounds and six assists.

Fowles scored seven points during a 13-2 run which snapped an 8-8 tie. The Lady Tigers, who held a 34-22 halftime lead, were always ahead by at least 11 points during the final 20 minutes.

1. FOOTBALL: LSU 41, Notre Dame 14
January 3, 2007 at Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans)

For the Tigers, the Sugar Bowl matchup against Notre Dame provided their opportunity to stamp themselves as one of the top teams in the country. LSU did lose two games, but no team was playing better in the second half of the regular season.

Give the Tigers a gigantic check mark for their performance against the Fighting Irish. LSU dominated play from the tail end of the second quarter and crushed Notre Dame 41-14. The victory helped the Tigers finish third in the final national rankings.

After letting a 14-0 lead slip away, LSU put together a lightning quick scoring march right before halftime. Justin Vincent had a 19-yard run and Russell hooked up with Doucet on a 58-yard pass. Russell put the Tigers on top with a five-yard scoring run.

In the second half, the contest turned into a total mismatch. LSU gained 333 yards in the last two quarters and scored 20 points – two touchdowns and two field goals. Meanwhile, the Tigers defense held the Irish to no points and a mere 30 yards in the second half.

Holding a 21-14 advantage, LSU increased its cushion on field goals of 25 yards and 37 yards by Colt David. Then, two freshmen scored touchdowns to turn the game into a rout. Brandon LaFell caught a 58-yard pass from Russell and Williams ran 20 yards.

Williams rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns, while Vincent tacked on 71 yards on the ground in the final game of his career. Doucet had eight catches for 115 yards, while Bowe grabbed five passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.

But, the story of the game was how much Russell outperformed Notre Dame's Brady Quinn. In the process, Russell stamped himself as the top quarterback in the 2007 NFL draft.

Russell completed 21 of 34 passes for 332 yards and the touchdown passes to LaFell and Bowe. Quinn was 15-of-35 for 148 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.