Football Notebook: Offensive line struggles, but comes alive late in win against Wisconsin - Sports

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Football Notebook: Offensive line struggles, but comes alive late in win against Wisconsin

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Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:27 pm | Updated: 2:04 pm, Mon Sep 1, 2014.

The LSU offensive line struggled to create space in the ground game against Wisconsin for majority of the night Saturday, but the Tigers tired out the Badgers defense late en route to a 28-24 victory.

The Tigers were shut down in the run game for the first three quarters, gaining 49 yards on 29 attempts.

Wisconsin applied heavy pressure in the gaps and up the middle keeping the Tigers veteran line on their heels for most of the night.

"We had young linemen mistakes," said LSU coach Les Miles. "Guys not getting up into backside linebackers sending them the wrong way, and that won't happen. These guys are going to get that."

In the fourth quarter, LSU opened up the gaps and corrected their mistakes, enabling the running backs to break off some key runs to clinch the victory.

Jennings comes alive in the second half

After a half of football that was all but successful for the Tigers through the air, sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings turned the passing game around to give the Tigers a much needed spark on offense in the second half.

Jennings connected with sophomore wide receiver Travin Dural down the sideline for a 44-yard gain early in the third quarter that set the Tigers up for a field goal to cut the lead to 24-10.

After a touchdown pass to redshirt freshman John Diarse and a two point conversion to freshman Trey Quinn, the Tigers were well within striking distance thanks to the second half play of Jennings.

Jennings finished the night 9-of-21 for 238 yards and two touchdowns, with 118 of those yards coming in the second half on top of incompleting only two passes in the half. 

"I got more comfortable in the pocket and more comfortable with the defense that was running [as the game went on]," Jennings said. "All of my teammates around me calmed me down and got me in the groove of things."

Secondary locks down

A key to victory for the Tigers in Houston was their ability to disrupt the Badgers' passing game.

Junior Jalen Mills and redshirt junior Jalen Collins played locked down coverage on the Badgers' receivers from the start, giving them fits and causing Wisconsin junior quarterback Tanner McEvoy to overthrow multiple passes.

"It appeared to me Jalen Collins maybe played and tackled as well in this game as any game he's played," Miles said.

The Tigers held the Badgers' passing game to only 50 yards with a 33.3 percent completion percentage for the night.

Mills came up with a decisive pick early in the fourth quarter, which led to Hilliard's 28-yard game winning touchdown run, followed by a pick by senior safety Ronald Martin with a little more than 6 minutes to go that all but sealed the deal for LSU.

"I had just told coach Miles and coach Wilson and the whole offensive line that I was going to get them the ball," Mills said. "We needed a big play from the defense and we were struggling at first and I just came through."

True freshman relatively quiet

The Tigers true freshman were relatively quiet in the Tigers come from behind win Saturday night.

The Tigers top recruit coming into the fall, freshman running back Leonard Fournette, rushed nine times for a total of 10 yards, and while those numbers may not be staggering, Miles said it's exactly what the team wanted from him.

"I liked Leonard Fournette's contribution," Miles said. "Did just what we asked him to do, ran hard, returned a couple of kicks."

Freshman receiver Trey Quinn caught one ball for 11 yards on top of hauling in a successful two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to cut the Badgers lead to three.

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