BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)—Chad Jones turned in his best performance since the College World Series, helping ninth-ranked LSU remain undefeated on the football field heading into the meat of its Southeastern Conference slate.
The two-sport athlete had two interceptions on Saturday night, leading a dominant defensive performance by the Tigers in a 31-3 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I definitely feel like I am more in the flow now,” Jones said. “I’ve been trying to watch a little extra film with the coaching staff to try and have the best season I could possibly have. I’m looking forward to that.”
Jones was a relief pitcher on LSU’s 2009 national champion baseball team, but if he’s to play for his second national title in football (he was part of the 2007 squad), LSU’s offense may need improvement.
The Tigers (3-0) were hampered by sloppiness as Jordan Jefferson again struggled to complete deep passes and instead threw his first interception of the season. The Tigers also failed to convert a fourth-and-1 on a handoff to Charles Scott.
“Our quarterback was not necessarily in a groove early, but we have some talent and we have the ability to make plays,” LSU head coach Les Mile said. “We’re not hitting on all cylinders just yet.”
It may have been a troubling sign for Tigers fans with SEC matchups on the road against Mississippi State and Georgia, followed by a home date with No. 1 Florida, looming in the next three weeks. It didn’t affect the outcome of this game, however.
Jefferson’s 165 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Brandon LaFell were enough against the overmatched Ragin’ Cajuns (2-1). Scott and Trindon Holliday also scored for LSU, who improved to 22-0 against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“Playing on the road is going to be difficult and we know that we are going to have to play better if we want to win,” Jefferson said. “We are just so close to busting some really big plays you can see that on the playing field. You really can. We are getting really close and I think it is going to come really soon.”
LSU went ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter on a quick sideline pass to LaFell, who easily juked the lone defender near him for a 16-yard score.
Soon after, Jones intercepted Cajuns quarterback Chris Masson and returned it 38 yards to the Louisiana-Lafayette 23. That led to Holliday’s 11-yard score on an option pitch from Jefferson. Holliday had to slip one tackle, then the so-called fastest player in college football—also an NCAA national champion in the 100-meter sprint—sped for the pylon to make it 14-0.
The Ragin’ Cajuns responded with a 61-yard drive, setting up Tyler Albrecht’s 40-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
“We’re going to find positives in this game and build on those,” coach Rickey Bustle said. “I felt like LSU had to earn everything they got, every inch they made. Offensively, we moved the ball between the 20-yard lines quite a bit but just couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.”
LSU led 17-3 at halftime after Josh Jasper drilled a career-long 52-yard field goal as time expired.
The Tigers opened the second half by marching 58 yards in seven plays, concluding with LaFell’s second TD reception, a 20-yarder from Jefferson, to make it 24-3.
The Cajuns, coming off a 17-15 win over Kansas State, had other chances to score against LSU, but the Tigers defense came up with big plays each time. ULL had first-and-goal from the 2 in the third quarter, but was stuffed on four straight runs up the middle. On fourth down, LSU’s Harry Coleman jarred the ball from Undrea Sails and Perry Riley recovered on the 2.
When the Cajuns drove into LSU territory in the fourth quarter, Jones made his second interception.
“It’s so frustrating right now because we were able to move the ball,” Masson said. “We just couldn’t capitalize. We kept putting our defense in bad situations, and we have to stop doing that.”
LSU then drove for its final TD, a 1-yard completion to Scott from backup quarterback Jarrett Lee.
Masson was 16-of-36 for 159 yards. The Cajuns rushed for 109 yards, led by Sails’ 48, by far his lowest rushing total of the season.
LSU rushed for 164 yards, led by Scott’s 63.
“He’s a young quarterback,” Miles said of Jefferson, a sophomore with five career starts. “He’s still getting comfortable in his mechanics and understanding where he needs to put the football.”