Melvin Jones got a cram session of the most important kind.
Jones replaced starting fullback Connor Neighbors during LSU’s 30-27 win at Florida last week while Neighbors recovered from a sprained ankle.
Neighbors was a last-minute scratch from the trip to Gainesville, Florida, the ankle still swollen at the time LSU boarded for the flight Friday afternoon.
That’s when the cram session began. Neighbors and Jones traded phone calls and text messages from the next day until game time.
“Those 24 hours were crazy,” said Jones, a sophomore from Lake Charles. “A lot was running through my mind. Kind of got the jitterbugs. Connor being there texting me and me asking him different things on different plays helped me out.”
Neighbors texted him just before kickoff.
“Told him, ‘Go kick some (butt).’ That’s what he did,” Neighbors said.
Jones made some critical lead blocks, helping LSU run for nearly 200 yards. He also caught four passes for 19 yards.
Neighbors, meanwhile, watched the game from a friend’s house. It was the first game he didn’t attend since LSU’s 38-7 win at Tennessee in 2011. Teams are restricted to traveling a certain amount of players to SEC road games.
LSU (5-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) is expected to start Neighbors against Kentucky (5-1, 2-1) on Saturday. Coach Les Miles said Neighbors practiced the entire week, and Neighbors said he’s fully healthy.
Elliott Porter’s reaction last year when seeing that the Tigers would play Kentucky this year?
“It was nice,” he said with a smile earlier this week.
Porter, LSU’s starting center, spent his true freshman season at Kentucky. He redshirted that year before transferring to LSU, his homestate school.
“You always had your dreams,” Porter said when referring to playing Kentucky. “It’s happened this year. I’m excited. Going to be ready this week.”
In another Kentucky connection, special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto spent last season on Mark Stoops’ Kentucky staff before returning to Baton Rouge.
The Tigers and Wildcats were annual opponents from 1952-2002, but Saturday’s game will be only their fourth meeting since then.
LSU holds a commanding 39-16-1 lead in the series, which began back in 1949. LSU is 23-5-1 in games at Tiger Stadium, most recently a 35-7 victory in 2011, and 2-1 against UK under Les Miles.
In love with night
Saturday’s game is LSU’s eighth this season — all of them night games (6 p.m. or later).
It is the longest stretch of night games to start the season for LSU since 1958.
Next Saturday’s game against Ole Miss is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on ESPN2 or the SEC Network, which will tie the mark from 1958. LSU has at least one more guaranteed night game this season: at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at Texas A&M.