Mere inches separated LSU from its first shutout victory of the season Saturday night.
The Tiger defense held the University of North Texas to just two red zone appearances in a 56-3 blowout. The Mean Green's lone score came on a 50-yard field goal by kicker Nick Bazaldua with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. The Tigers' last shutout victory came in September 2004 against Mississippi State.
Key stops kept the Mean Green from putting more points on the board. North Texas had a first-and-goal situation on the LSU 9-yard line midway through the second quarter, but Tiger defenders E. J. Kuale, Claude Wroten and LaRon Landry stopped North Texas tailback Jamario Thomas on two 1-yard runs.
An incomplete pass led to fourth-and-goal for North Texas, and Bazaldua came on for a 24-yard field goal attempt. But LSU tackle Kyle Williams was positioned well and got the first field goal block of his career.
"I saw something with what the line was gonna do and I shot through the gap and blocked it," Williams said. "[I] didn't jump at all. I was running through, and there was a guy on my back so I just stuck my hand up there. So I think he kicked it low."
North Texas also threatened on its first two drives of the second half. Opening the half, quarterback Daniel Meager drove the Mean Green to the LSU 27-yard line. But the drive ended when Tiger strong safety Craig Steltz intercepted the ball returning it to the LSU 35.
"I was in the deep middle and I just happened to break off and the ball just happened to bounce up and I was running toward the ball," Steltz said. "My eyes, I don't know how big they were."
Steltz figured heavily into the game for the Tigers, tallying eight tackles to go with his interception.
North Texas nearly reached the end zone on their next drive, but Steltz stopped Meager's run at the 1-yard line, and linebackers Kenneth Hollis and Cameron Vaughn wrapped up Thomas on a fourth down to end the threat.
"No matter where we are on the field, we cannot give up a touchdown," Steltz said. "It was a great job by our D-Line putting the pressure on them and stopping them."
LSU allowed 206 yards of total offense, their second-best total of the season. The Tigers held Vanderbilt to 138 offensive yards on Oct. 8 in Nashville, Tenn.
LSU stopped the Mean Green's dual running threats in Thomas and Patrick Cobbs, allowing a total of 104 yards between them.
"I think defense played consistent most of the night," Miles said. "Real good against the run certainly."
But some said the Tigers did seem to lose some intensity as the second half began.
"I think when we got into the game a little bit tonight, I think our intensity dropped a little bit and we allowed them to get a little more than they should've gotten," Williams said.
Contact Parker Wishik at firstname.lastname@example.org