Dunn left at home
BATON ROUGE, La. — Starting receiver and punt returner Robert Dunn did not travel with Auburn to Baton Rouge, La., because of a violation of practice policy.
A junior from Augusta, Ga., Dunn has caught 10 passes for 116 yards in seven games this season, including maybe the biggest reception of his career just a week ago. Dunnís 30-yard reception from quarterback Brandon Cox in the closing seconds of Auburnís game at Arkansas put the Tigers in position for Wes Byrumís game-winning 20-yard field goal.
Tim Hawthorne started in place of Dunn. Hawthorne, a redshirt freshman from Homewood, entered the game with two catches and had none over the first three quarters. True freshman receiver Chris Slaughter returned punts.
Groves ties sack record
With 36 seconds left in the second quarter, defensive end Quentin Groves tied Auburnís career sack record.
Groves tied Gerald Robinsonís 26 career sacks with a thunderous bring-down of quarterback Matt Flynn on a crucial third-and-five late in the second quarter.
ďItís a great personal goal, but Iím not out to set personal goals,Ē Groves said after the loss. ďIím out to help my team win games.Ē
Groves did not start the game but did see substantial playing time. The senior from Mississippi is still recovering from dislocating three toes in Auburnís win at Florida.
Antonio Coleman started at left end, while Groves came off the bench mostly on third downs, when Auburnís pass-rushing unit entered the game.
Billings shines again
By halftime, receiver Montez Billings had amassed 65 yards receiving on five catches, leading all wide-outs in both categories. He finished with six catches for 68 yards.
Along with scoring the first touchdown of the game, Billings had a 31-yard completion late in the second quarter that put Auburn inside the LSU 25-yard line, leading to a field goal and a 17-7 halftime lead.
The sophomore from Pelham injured his hamstring a week before the season opener against Kansas State. He returned to the starting lineup for the fifth game of the season against Florida, joining Rod Smith as one of Brandon Coxís go-to receivers.
Powers has near TD
Decatur High grad Jerraud Powers scooped up a fumble in the second quarter and raced the opposite direction.
Auburnís starting cornerback, Powers looked as if he would score a touchdown but was caught from behind at the LSU 3-yard line. Three plays later, fullback Carl Stewart leaped into the end zone from a yard out.
Safety Zac Etheridge forced the ball from the grasps of LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux. Powers, a sophomore, picked it up the ball for his first fumble recovery of the season, returning it 36 yards.
It was the longest fumble return of the season for Auburn and Powersí second career fumble recovery.
Brock starts at safety
Senior Eric Brock started in place of the injured Aairon Savage.
Savage has been plagued by injury all season. He twisted his ankle early in the season and then twisted his knee against Florida. It was Brockís fifth start this season.
Tricky special teams
Auburn used some trickery on its first kickoff return of the second half.
Ben Tate caught the kickoff and then purposely fumbled the ball. He picked up the ball and immediately turned and faced the opposite direction. Brad Lester, Mario Fannin and Pat Lee joined him, all standing in a straight line with their backs to the oncoming LSU coverage team.
While disguised in this odd formation, Tate passed the ball to Lee. A second later the four sprinted in opposite directions, confusing the LSU coverage team. Lee picked up nearly 40 yards on the return.
Dunlap back as starter
Auburn senior left tackle King Dunlap looks to have won his old job back.
Benched after the third week of the season because of an elbow injury and poor play, Dunlap started in place of true freshman Ryan Pugh on Saturday against LSU.
It marked Dunlapís first start since the Tigersí loss to Mississippi State.
Light play for Burns
True freshman quarterback Kodi Burns continued to watch the game from the sideline.
Burns played one snap in the first three quarters. He picked up a yard on a designed quarterback sneak that he bounced outside.
Burns nearly turned the corner for what would have been a touchdown, but LSU, Craig Steltz chased the speedy Burns out of bounds.
Since his start against New Mexico State in the fourth game of the season, Burns has had a limited role, carrying the ball seven times for 10 yards before Saturday night. Tuberville said earlier this week that he ďdefinitelyĒ wants to play Burns more.
Lester gets to start
Junior running back Brad Lester got his second straight start, replacing Ben Tate as the Tigersí starting tailback.
Lester returned from a six-game suspension three weeks ago in Auburnís win against Vanderbilt.
Tate was listed as the starter, but just minutes before kickoff, Auburn announced the lineup change. Lester finished with 68 yards on 16 carries.
Grading the Tigers
Decatur Daily Sports Writer Ross Dellenger grades Auburnís performance in Saturdayís 30-24 loss to LSU, giving the Tigers a letter grade from A+ to F in four categories.
After scoring 17 points in the first half, Auburnís offense mustered only one touchdown in the final two quarters. The go-ahead drive in the final minutes of the game was the only bright spot in a lackluster second half.
The Auburn defense gave up big plays in the second half after practically shutting down LSUís explosive offense in the first two quarters. The Bayou Bengals proved too much for an Auburn defense that entered the game ranked 11th in the nation.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Kicker Wes Byrum made all of his extra points and a field goal, but the kickoff coverage team again proved that it was vulnerable.
THE BIG PICTURE: B
Auburn followed a superlative first half with a disappointing second, allowing chunks of yards to LSU and scoring only seven points. But the visiting Tigers still nearly shocked the No. 5-ranked team in the nation in a raucous road environment.
Best and worst
Best way to start a game ... again: For the fourth straight game, Auburn scored on its opening drive, marching 63 yards on 11 plays to stun the nationís second-ranked defense.
Best way to begin your broadcast career: Auburn cornerback Pat Lee announced the Tigersí starting lineup in a taped message on ESPN.
Worst press box patrol: According to Football Writers Association of America rules, cheering in the press box is not allowed, and anyone who does so is supposed to be escorted out. That didnít seem to be the case at Tiger Stadium, where several people decked in LSU purple and gold openly cheered and even cursed throughout the night.
Worst broadcast line of the night: LSUís public address announcer said during the second quarter: ďTime out Tigers.Ē Two seconds later, he realized his error: ďTime out LSU Tigers.Ē
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