Every LSU player seems to know the number: 15.
That’s how many passes Ole Miss has intercepted through seven games, a stat that leads the nation.
“I see a bunch of ball hawks, guys who fly around to the ball,” receiver Travin Dural said of the Rebels defensive backs.
No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern) travels to Baton Rouge this weekend with one of the best — and, maybe, the best — secondary in the nation. The Rebels allow just 193 yards passing a game, 20th in the nation, but their turnover-creating ways have opposing quarterbacks flustered.
Senior cornerback Senquez Golson is tied for the national lead in interceptions per game. He has seven through seven games, and three have come in the end zone.
“They have big-play ability,” running back Terrence Magee said. “They intercept balls and score points on defense. One thing we always focus on is not turning the ball over.”
LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings has thrown just three interceptions this season in 128 attempts, but the Tigers passing game has struggled with consistency. LSU averages just 198 yards passing a game, 98th nationally.
Against Ole Miss’ secondary, Dural said route running and ball security are key.
“Making sure your routes are at the correct depth and catching the ball and protecting it,” Dural said. “Making sure it’s secure. There’s going to be a lot of guys around the ball that cause a lot of turnovers. That’s mainly the key — having great ball security.”
Need a new mouthpiece
LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith had planned to leave his mouthpiece on the field.
A teammate thought better of it.
Kentucky receiver Dorian Baker hit Beckwith so hard on a peelback block in the Tigers’ win last Saturday that his mouthpiece hurled through the air. Beckwith remained down while trying to catch his breath.
He walked off of the field without the mouthpiece — on purpose.
“I wanted to leave it on the field,” he said. “Somebody came and gave it to me. I didn’t want it, though. Why would you bring my mouthpiece to me? Makes me look bad when somebody comes brings you your mouthpiece after you’ve been knocked out.”
LSU sent the collision between Beckwith and Baker to the SEC for review. A targeting foul was not called.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops declined comment when asked about Baker on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. UK hosts No. 1 Mississippi State this week. If the hit is ruled as targeting, Baker would miss the first half of that game.
Coach Les Miles suggested on his radio show Wednesday that the league will not or did not rule the collision targeting.
“We thought it was definitely a chargeable issue,” Miles said of the hit. “I think there’s certain criteria this met and certain it didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Kentucky running back Boom Williams took a hit from linebacker Deion Jones during a kickoff return. He has not been cleared to practice, Stoops told reporters in Kentucky Wednesday.
‘Glad it’s ended’
Miles is happy with the way an investigation into Oklahoma State’s football program ended.
The NCAA found allegations, made in a series of Sports Illustrated stories last fall, “fundamentally unfounded.” In a series last fall, Sports Illustrated reported multiple allegations of wrongdoings during Miles’ tenure at the school (2001-04).
“It was never any part of my experience at Oklahoma State,” Miles said Wednesday. “Glad it’s ended the way it has.”
Fournette to start?
Miles on Wednesday suggested on his radio show that freshman running back Leonard Fournette would get his third straight start against Ole Miss.
“I think you’ll look forward to seeing Leonard as the starter,” Miles said.