The rumblings that LSU’s starting offensive line may differ from the past few weeks were true after all.
Sophomore Ethan Pocic started at right guard in place of Hoko Fanaika, a senior who won the right guard spot over Evan Washington during preseason camp.
Pocic started at center for the first two games, filling in for the suspended Elliott Porter. He missed last week’s win over Louisiana-Monroe while recovering from a sprained ankle he suffered against Sam Houston State.
LSU’s offensive line struggled somewhat in the first three games, and coach Les Miles had suggested that a healed Pocic could find a place at guard or tackle. Porter started at center for the second straight game.
LSU’s line still struggled Saturday against Mississippi State’s front seven, especially early. The Tigers had a handful of missed blocks in the first half as State took a 17-0 lead.
Former LSU quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle was honored on the field between the first and second quarters Saturday night to a thunderous ovation.
Tittle played at LSU from 1944-47, earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in his junior and senior years. He went on to a 17-year career in the NFL, resulting in his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
Only two other former Tigers are enshrined in Canton, Ohio: the late Steve Van Buren and Jimmy Taylor. The 87-year-old Tittle toured Tiger Stadium earlier in the week — including a visit to the LSU locker room, where a replica of his college jersey was hanging in a locker.
Former LSU center and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal was recognized in the second half. Donning a purple shirt, O’Neal walked onto the field to a rousing applause.
Kwon Alexander returned, and everyone knew it.
Out last game, Alexander had a game-changing strip on Mississippi State’s first possession of the second half in his return to the Tigers’ lineup. Defensive end Danielle Hunter recovered the fumble, scooping it up at the 25-yard line and running into the end zone.
Alexander and Lamar Louis returned after missing the win last week over ULM with injuries. Louis was suffering from a groin injury and said Tuesday he was “85 percent.” Alexander had a shoulder stinger. Both said they could have played against the Warhawks.
Duke Riley and Deion Jones filled in for the pair last week.
Snapping the streak
Mississippi State opened its offensive possession by driving 51 yards on six plays for a touchdown, snapping one of the best defensive streaks in LSU history.
The Tigers defense had gone 31 straight drives without allowing a score, a steak that covers 151 minutes of game time. Wisconsin, in the season opener, was the previous team to score on the Tigers. The Badgers tallied early in the third quarter of the Tigers’ 28-24 comeback win Aug. 30 in Houston.
Mississippi State players are wearing a sticker on the back of their helmets all season in memory of former MSU radio play-by-play announcer Jack Cristil.
Cristil died Sept. 7 at age 88. He was the radio voice of Mississippi State athletics for 58 years, calling 636 football games from 1953-2011.
Cristil’s daughter, Kay Cristil Clouatre, is a resident of Denham Springs.
Miles’ streak ends
With a horrific start in the first half, LSU’s loss to Mississippi State in its SEC opener snapped a seven-game winning streak for Miles in the first game of league play.
It was the first loss for LSU in an SEC opener since the Tigers dropped a 7-3 decision to Auburn in 2006. Before Saturday, they had defeated State three times, Auburn twice and Vanderbilt twice in the seven-year winning streak.
Cornerback Rashard Robinson got his first start of the season. Robinson was suspended for the season opener against Wisconsin, and Jalen Collins replaced him as a starter the past two games.
Robinson got most, if not all, of the snaps at cornerback, opposite Tre’Davious White, in the first half.
Capitol One Bowl representatives were the only bowl officials on hand Saturday. … Tight end Logan Stokes played after sitting out the last game with a foot/ankle injury. … Hunter got his first sack of the season on Mississippi State’s second drive of the game. … LSU running back Terrence Magee got his first career pass attempt and completion on a halfback pass in the first quarter. Anthony Jennings tossed it to Magee, who completed to a wide-open Malachi Dupre for a 44-yard gain.