Bradley Dale Peveto had a front-row seat Saturday night to watch what he’d seen on television a week earlier and quickly came to the conclusion that hi-def doesn’t do the LSU football team justice.
To Peveto, Northwestern State’s third-year year head coach and a former LSU assistant, the second-ranked Tigers are even faster and more physical that what they appear to be on TV or on game tapes.
And by the way, he doesn’t think the Tigers are the No. 2 team in the country, either, after LSU rolled to a 49-3 win over his Demons in Tiger Stadium.
“That’s definitely the No. 1 team in the country right there,” Peveto said unequivocally after getting a long look at the Tigers. “They are a class act, they have a class coach (Les Miles) and there’s not a better place to play in the country than right there in Tiger Stadium.”
LSU piled up 400 total yards on offense and the Tigers’ aggressive defense held Northwestern State to minus-4 yards rushing and 95 total yards -limiting the Demons to six first downs and 1.7 yards per snap.
Peveto didn’t hesitate when asked if LSU was more impressive than in their 40-27 season-opening win against No. 3 Oregon.
“They’re pretty impressive on TV, and they’re even more impressive in person,” he said. “The speed is what you can’t really tell, even on video or on TV. That’s a fast, fast football team. They get edges that you don’t think they’re going to get. They’re very talented, very fast, very physical.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Peveto added. “If there’s a faster, more physical football team in the country, I’d like to see it.”
Well, maybe not.
Like Peveto, Northwestern State weakside linebacker Yaser Elqutub could see the difference in the LSU players and the players they usually face in the Southland Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision.
“You couldn’t tell the difference between their starters and backups,” Elqutub said. “In our conference, we have great players. But every one of them (LSU players) is great.
“Believe it or not, it wasn’t like it was overwhelming - and we hung with them,” he said. “They’re just a solid team. They have big guys, and they’re very fast. You have to play a perfect game or you’re going to get hurt.”
Junior college transfer Brad Henderson got his first start after former Tara High standout Paul Harris was suspended indefinitely last week for conduct detrimental to the team.
Henderson completed 16 of 26 passes for 74 yards, but he was sacked once and threw an interception while trying to throw the ball away when his protection broke down.
On the play, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, a 6-foot-6, 306-pound sophomore, dove at the line of scrimmage and picked the ball off just before it hit the turf.
“It was one of those things where they made plays,” said Henderson. “A great defense like that is going to make plays. My offensive linemen kept them off me most of the night. But when you play a great defense, they’re going to make plays.”
Peveto and Henderson said the Demons came in with the attitude that they were not going to be intimidated by the Tigers or the more than 90,000 fans in Tiger Stadium - a total than included about 4,000 Northwestern State boosters.
Peveto tried to be aggressive, calling a trick play that LSU sniffed out and also a fake punt in which backup quarterback Don Canyon threw a 25-yard pass to Justin Aldredge - which turned out to be the longest play of the game for Northwestern State.
“We came in with a positive attitude to win,” Henderson said. “We wanted to put points on the board and make great stops on defense. But give credit to LSU, we went up against arguably one of the best teams in the nation.”
“I thought our team played hard; that’s a heck of a football team,” Peveto said. “I’m proud of our guys for fighting to the end. We never quit, and we played extremely hard.”
The Demons did get a 44-yard field goal from John Shaughnessy on the third play of the second quarter, which was historic because it was the first time Northwestern State scored in 11 meetings with LSU.
“We played LSU 10 times in our history and never scored, so we broke that streak,” Peveto said. “If you’ve been shut out 10 times by anybody and then you do score some points, you have to feel pretty good about that. I wanted to score more, but to get that monkey off our back feels good.”
“It’s special because we broke the tradition of not scoring in this stadium,” said Shaughnessy, whose kick struck the left upright before falling over the crossbar. “I didn’t know (about the drought) until after I hit it and coach Peveto told me. It hit iron, but we took it. Three points is three points.”