LSU starting linebacker Ryan Baker did not play in the Tigers’ 49-3 victory against Northwestern State on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium after violating an unspecified team rule.
Coach Les Miles indicated that Baker’s suspension would be for just one game and that he would be eligible to play Thursday, when No. 2 LSU visits No. 16 Mississippi State to begin Southeastern Conference play.
Sophomore Lamin Barrow started in Baker’s place on the weak side as LSU opened in its base 4-3-4 defense.
A senior from Grand Ridge, Fla., Baker started last week against Oregon and all 12 games in which he played last season. Barrow started in the opener against North Carolina last season when Baker did not play because of an injury.
The Tigers played without four players who were out for disciplinary reasons.
Wide receiver Russell Shepard is ineligible for the first three games for violating an NCAA regulation and is expected to return against West Virginia on Sept. 24. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Jones are suspended indefinitely after being arrested last month.
With Sunday being the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, there were a number of patriotic touches in, around and above Tiger Stadium.
Instead of flags representing the 11 other Southeastern Conference members flying over the south end of the stadium, there were 11 American flags. A larger American flag flew over the north end zone and two immense American flags hung from the outside of the stadium.
All the flags inside the end zone flew at half staff.
As the LSU team took the field, running back Michael Ford and free safety Eric Reid led the Tigers out, with each carrying the stars and stripes.
There was also a military flyover just before kickoff.
Wing hurt, kicking changes
LSU punter Brad Wing was held out with a leg injury. He was seen on the field after the game with his left (kicking) leg in a protective stocking.
D.J. Howard, a senior walk-on from West Feliciana, took Wing’s place and averaged 41 yards on three punts with a long of 53.
Howard also took over kickoff duties after place-kicker Drew Alleman had trouble getting the ball deep in LSU’s season opener against Oregon.
Howard did a bit better, averging 62.5 yards on eight kickoffs against the Demons while Alleman averaged 60.1 yards on eight kickoffs against Oregon.
Play of the game
Early in the second quarter, Northwestern State faced third-and-11 at its 19-yard line. Demons quarterback Brad Henderson dropped back under heavy pressure from Barkevious Mingo and Morris Claiborne and tried to throw the ball away.
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers laid full out and made a spectacular one-handed interception at the NSU 15. The Tigers scored two plays later on a 6-yard run by Spencer Ware to go up 21-3 with 8:33 left before halftime.
Did you notice?
LSU had a new black metal fence up around the perimeter of the Tiger Stadium field, replacing the old chain link that stood for many years. The project was one of several offseason stadium improvements that included replacing old windows on the north exterior of the stadium and new turf along the sidelines.
Showing the money
Northwestern State is getting a $405,000 payday for playing Saturday’s game at LSU, according to NSU sports information director Doug Ireland.
The Demons play next week at Southern Methodist, which will pay Northwestern State $350,000.
LSU recognized the 2011 inductees to the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame with an on-field ceremony during the first half Saturday.
Those present included former baseball coach and athletic director Skip Bertman, former pitcher and 1992 national player of the year Lloyd Peever, former All-American wide receiver Wendell Davis, All-American triple jumper Suzette Lee and Steve Maddox, son of the late athletic director Carl Maddox, whom he was representing.
Not present was former All-American women’s basketball player Seimone Augustus. She was unable to attend because of schedule conflicts with her WNBA team, the Minnesota Lynx.
Also recognized on the field was former All-American basketball center Shaquille O’Neal.
All received standing ovations.
All in the family
The LSU football team includes two players whose fathers played at Northwestern State.
Most fans already know that senior offensive lineman T-Bob Hebert is the son of former Demons quarterback Bobby Hebert (1978-82), who played seven years with the New Orleans Saints and also with the Atlanta Falcons.
Senior offensive guard Will Blackwell’s father, Jimmy, was a tight end who played at Northwestern with Hebert, lettering from 1980-83.
• LSU is now 30-1 in non-conference games under Miles, has won 35 straight non-conference regular-season games overall and has won 19 straight games in September.
• This game began LSU’s 88th season in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are 244-85-7 in Death Valley, 220-60-4 in night games and 38-6 in Tiger Stadium under Miles.
• Northwestern State was going for its 500th victory Saturday. The Demons’ record now stands at 499-417-22.
• Northwestern is now 0-11 all-time against LSU, 0-16 against the SEC. ? LSU has won 28 straight against in-state opponents. ? Saturday’s announced crowd of 92,405 was the largest ever to see a Northwestern football game. ? LSU’s next home game is Oct. 1 against Kentucky. ? Because of the Thursday game, Miles’ radio show has been moved to 9 p.m. Tuesday at T.J. Ribs on Acadian Thruway.
Advocate sportswriters Les East, Scott Rabalais, Sheldon Mickles and Scott Hotard contributed to this report.