SYRACUSE, N.Y. — To say the least, LSU weakside linebacker Deion Jones was ready to play when he finally got on the field for the first play of the second half of Saturday’s game with Syracuse.
Jones had to sit out the first half for a targeting penalty he received in last week’s game with Auburn, which also carried an ejection.
On Jones’ first play Saturday, he read a run up the middle by Syracuse’s Devante McFarlane, lowered his pads and leveled him after a 1-yard gain. It was the first of four stops by Jones, LSU’s leading tackler in its first two games.
Jones also had an interception off a pass batted into the air by defensive end Arden Key in the third quarter. But Jones also drew the ire of LSU coach Les Miles after he was flagged late in the game for shoving a ball carrier in the back after went out of bounds.
“We’ll have to see. ... The interception was certainly significant, it led to three points,” Miles said. “We cannot have 15-yard penalties by any one of our players, right? By any one of them.”
“He was ready, and when he came out there he made plays,” LSU defensive end Lewis Neal said of Jones. “He wanted to play so bad, that (the penalty) was adrenalin.”
Switching it up
LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele used a 4-3 front for the first time this season on Syracuse’s first offensive snap.
In the season opener with McNeese State that was canceled and the next two outings against Mississippi State and Auburn, Steele used the nickel package with two linebackers and five defensive backs to start and primarily stuck to that alignment throughout both games.
On Saturday, senior Lamar Louis got his first start this season on the strong side with sophomore Donnie Alexander making his first college start in Jones’ place. Kendell Beckwith started in the middle.
In the secondary, Dwayne Thomas, the starting nickel back for the first two games, got the nod at cornerback in place of freshman Kevin Toliver.
LSU defensive end Tashawn Bower injured his right foot or ankle on the game’s third play and was taken in for X-rays that were negative. He returned later in the first half, but played sparingly in the second half.
Tackle Jerald Hawkins and guard William Clapp apparently had leg cramps but were able to return. … Wide receiver Malachi Dupre also returned after taking a hard hit over the middle in the second quarter.
Even though the home stadium for the Syracuse football and basketball teams has been known as the Carrier Dome since it opened in September 1980, there is no air conditioning in the arena.
It was a comfortable 66 degrees outdoors at kickoff and was 69 in the Carrier Dome when the game started, but it climbed to a stuffy 75 during the contest — making things sticky for players and spectators alike.
See you in ’17
Syracuse will complete the home-and-home series with LSU when the Orange come to Baton Rouge to play in Tiger Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017 — likely in front of a little more than twice the capacity of the 49,000-seat Carrier Dome.
LSU has now won 50 consecutive regular-season games against nonconference opposition with the last loss coming at Virginia Tech in 2002. … Injured free safety Jalen Mills and tight end Dillon Gordon both traveled, but, as expected, did not dress out. ... True freshman tight end Foster Moreau made his first collegiate start in a two-tight-end package with Colin Jeter. … Former LSU chancellor Sean O’Keefe attended the game. O’Keefe, who was at LSU from 2005-08, is a professor at Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. ... The New Orleans Saints played a preseason game with the Philadelphia Eagles in the then-one-year-old Carrier Dome on Aug. 23, 1981. The Eagles bounced the Saints 36-7 before 28,001 fans.
Advocate sportswriters Ross Dellenger and Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.