LSU safety John Battle played Saturday’s game against UT-Chattanooga with six digits written on his wrist tape: 305 and 954.
They are the area codes for Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
His Florida homeland is getting pounded by Hurricane Irma, a wrath of wind and rain that began Saturday night as LSU kicked off and isn’t expected to end until Monday.
Battle said his mother and cousins live just south of Miami and his father and grandparents reside in Fort Lauderdale. They all evacuated and were safe, he said in an interview Saturday after LSU's 45-10 home-opening win.
“They're hanging in tight right now. Everybody's fine,” Battle said. “I have my mom and cousins down there, but they got out.”
Battle had five tackles and a half-sack against Chattanooga, and he flashed those numbers on his wrist after helping topple Mocs quarterback Nick Tiano on fourth-and-6 in the first quarter, throwing up his arms to show the area codes.
Battle is the senior leader of an LSU defense that’s given up a single touchdown in its first two games. The Tigers are fifth nationally in total defense (169.5 ypg), sixth in scoring (5.0 ppg) and first in rushing (31.5 ypg).
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A good zero
For just the third time since at least 1937, the Tigers survived their first two games without committing a turnover.
LSU teams in 2007 and 2015 also did not have a turnover in Games 1 and 2. Receiver Russell Gage fumbled Saturday against Chattanooga, but he scooped up the ball to preserve LSU’s possession.
The Tigers coaching staff studied teams last season that ranked high nationally in turnover margin, including those in the College Football Playoff. Three of the four playoff teams ranked in the top 20 in turnover margin: Washington (first), Ohio State (third) and Alabama (17th).
“We’ve preached all camp about turnovers and winning the turnover margin. Tonight, we were plus 2, plus 3 for the season,” Orgeron said Saturday. “We studied some other teams, like Washington that were plus 18, guys in the College Football Playoff. Where this team needs to get, we’ve got to better in our turnover ratio and right now we’re off to a good start.”
LSU ranked 67th with a zero turnover margin last season, losing 17 turnovers and gaining 17.
The Tigers are one of the nation’s most-flagged teams through two games.
LSU has rolled up a combined 160 yards of penalties on 21 flags, something Orgeron addressed Saturday in the sternest of ways. Asked about the penalties, the coach replied, “I’m not putting up with it anymore.”
The Tigers rolled up 10 penalties in the first half of the game against Chattanooga before getting just one flag in the second half. Couple those 11 with the 10 from the season opener against BYU and LSU ranks 106th nationally in penalized yardage a game.
The penalties are wide-ranging. More have come before and after the snap than any (at least 12). Four have come on special teams. The offense picked up 12 of the flags, and the defense got five.
The most penalized position is the offensive line. The unit has recorded six flags, including two false starts and four holding violations.
The other Fournette
On the final play of LSU’s win over Chattanooga, Tiger Stadium announcer Dan Borne belted out a familiar name: Fournette.
What was left of the crowd released a noticeable roar as the time ticked off the clock.
Lanard Fournette, Leonard’s brother, carried for 7 yards on that final play, his first carry of the season. He did not make the trip with the team last week to New Orleans for unspecified reasons. Fournette was arrested over the summer for allegedly using a fake ID at a Baton Rouge casino. The charges will be dropped if he completes a pretrial diversion program.
On Saturday night, Orgeron said Fournette hasn’t been completely healthy.
“He’s healthy now. We’re going to need to use a rotation,” he said.