The Florida loss looked like a haymaker for LSU in 2003. No offensive points, just 287 yards of offense, plus, injuries to the top two backs on the roster. The Tigers were traveling to a South Carolina squad that by now, had become a pretty solid bunch in Lou Holtz' fifth season.
Thanks again to rnolan53 for posting these. FYI, he's started posting the 2012 games as well.
- The Gamecocks had lost two games at this point, but they were to Georgia and Tennessee teams ranked in the top 10. And they had a win over No. 15 Virginia on their resume. The Tigers, meanwhile, were a bit backed down with freshmen Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard expected to take the bulk of the carries. Yeah, they were talented, but with the offensive line kind of underachieving, nobody felt completely confident.
- Your intrepid student reporter watched most of this from my parents' house in LaPlace. Mom and Dad were out of town for the birth of my niece Grace, but my younger brother had his homecoming dance. So I was tasked with seeing him off and making sure he was presentable, and had scheduled myself for a Party Pics gig in New Orleans (my other college job -- the stories from which are largely inappropriate for this space).
- And right away, it was clear that LSU was ready to play here. Defense gets a three-and-out, offense picks up a couple first downs and then Broussard breaks a toss sweep for 33 yards, embarrassing some poor Gamecock safety in the process. He was so great on those toss plays where he could get a full head of steam and really square his shoulders to the line. Matt Mauck finds Devery Henderson in the endzone and things seem off to the perfect start.
- But then Ryan Gaudet shanks the PAT, and South Carolina puts together a 40-yard drive that doesn't net points, but does flip the field and pin LSU down at their own three.
- And here was the drive that would help set the tone for the rest of this season. Twenty-one plays -- nine of them runs by Broussard -- 97 yards, four third-down conversions, plus a huge fourth-and-one conversion from Mauck to David Jones. You can really see the frustration building on the South Carolina sideline.
- The Gamecocks flip the field again, and again, LSU drives 90-plus yards for a soul-sucking touchdown. This time, Vincent did most of the damage, with 48 total yards and a leaping one-yard score. Most remember Broussard's highlight run and 108-yard rushing performance, but Vincent had a better-rounded day with 123 combined rushing and receiving yards, and the two TDs.
- This had to be a near-dream half for Saban and the defensive coaches. A nice lead, some crushing offensive drives, and a fabulous teaching moment when Dondrial Pinkins somehow completed a 44-yard Hail Mary pass just short of the endzone in the second quarter's final seconds. So the defense likely got a nice ass-chewing in the locker room about maintaining focus.
- At the 5:09 mark, look at South Carolina running a Gus Malzahn-esque reverse to future No. 1 draft bust Troy Williamson.
- And then the back-breaker and highlight of Jason LeDoux's football life, picking up a Pinkins fumble forced by Kirston Pittman and bringing it back 15 yards for six. LeDoux was a lot like guys like Brian West, Joe Lawrence and Sammy Joseph in this era. Throw-in guys that usually had a strange transfer or pro baseball on their resume. They rarely did much besides provide some depth, but Saban never turned them away.
- At the 6:13 mark, there was one of Jimbo Fisher's favorite short-yardage pass plays. Fake jet-sweep with a naked boot pass to a releasing running back in the flat. A year later, Marcus Randall would throw a game-winner to Joe Addai on that play against Florida.
- LSU finished the night with 263 rushing yards. Subsequent interviews with the linemen from this team would reveal that the previous week's loss to Florida had been exactly what was hoped for that group. A wakeup call.