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October 13, 2012

Five key plays



LSU defeated South Carolina 23-21 on Saturday, and we take a look at five of the key plays from the game.

False start: After forcing South Carolina to go three-and -out on the first possession of the game, LSU was going for broke. The Tigers drove down the field by running right at the Gamecocks, but (broken-record alert) USC stiffened in the red zone. Given how badly LSU has struggled in its two SEC games, it is not really surprising that Les Miles was going to pull out all the stops to get into the end zone. Facing fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line, Miles called his second timeout of the drive. He sent out the power formation and - it flinched. Vadal Alexander was called for a false start, and after backing up 5 yards, LSU had no choice but to settle for the field goal.

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Jimmy Legree jumps the slant: Facing the Gamecocks' fearsome defensive line with two freshman starters, the Tigers went with quick passes to protect Zach Mettenberger. Jimmy Legree picked up on the tendency, and decided he could get an interception if he jumped the route. Sure enough, Mettenberger stared down his receiver, Legree jumped the route and he had the big interception. It was nearly Legree's second pick-six of the season, as he returned it all the way to the LSU 1-yard line. The Gamecocks scored two plays later to take a 7-3 lead they would hold throughout the first half.

Connor Shaw throws a pick: Connor Shaw had been virtually mistake-free in the wins over Missouri and Georgia, but he picked a terrible time to make a mistake against LSU. After LSU was forced to kick a field goal in a red zone (again), the Gamecocks were clinging to a 14-13 lead. Facing third-and-6, Shaw rolled left and forced a throw. Busta Anderson was the nearest Gamecock, but he never had a shot at the ball. Instead the throw went straight to LSU safety Eric Reid, who returned the ball to the USC 22. The defense held in the red zone (still), but LSU still kicked the go-ahead field goal.

Jeremy Hill breaks free: USC's bend-but-don't-break defense finally broke. LSU forced USC into a three-and-out and took over at the 50-yard line. Jeremy Hill took a pitch right, got through the line cleanly and cut back left and into the open. He went basically untouched for 50 yards, scoring the deciding touchdown.

USC's onside kick goes out of bounds: The Gamecocks still had a chance. Shaw found freshman Jerell Adams for a 16-yard gain on fourth-and-12, and then hit Bruce Ellington for a touchdown. The score brought the Gamecocks within two points with 1:41 left to play. They lined up for the onside kick, but never got a chance to make the recovery. Landon Ard's kick went out-of-bounds, giving the Tigers the ball. USC's defense forced a punt, but it was too little, too late.



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