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October 15, 2011KNOXVILLE, TENN. - There was a little bit of a wow factor when LSU swept its four September opponents.
The Tigers surprised everyone with the manner in which they disposed of three ranked teams - all away from home. But, the LSU style has changed in October.
The tempo set by LSU has been a punishing one which has beat down three teams. Tennessee was the third team to be in the way of the Tigers march on Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium.
LSU didn't give the Volunteers any thought of a second-half comeback. In fact, Tennessee had the football for just three series after halftime. Meanwhile, the Tigers scored touchdowns on all three of their second-half possessions to pull away for a 38-7 victory.
LSU has now won its first seven games by at least 13 points. However, the Tigers' margin of victories in October games against Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee has been 28, 30 and 31 points, respectively.
"The guys did what they needed to do to secure victory," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It was not our best. Late in the game, we had the opportunity to run the football. I don't know if it was a perfect outing."
Certainly, the first half wasn't perfect for the Tigers offense. LSU's first three series ended in punts. The Tigers did score 17 second-quarter points on touchdown passes from Jarrett Lee to Rueben Randle and Spencer Ware and a field goal by Drew Alleman.
But, the offense only drove a combined total of 41 yards for the two touchdowns. Morris Claiborne's 89-yard interception return to the Vols' 5 set up the Lee-to-Randle scoring pass. A 10-yard punt return by Odell Beckham led to the Lee-to-Ware touchdown throw.
LSU was outgained by 12 yards by the Volunteers in the opening two quarters even though it had a 17-7 advantage. The situation was totally different after halftime.
The Tigers methodically marched 66, 99 and 65 yards for touchdowns in the second half. Those three drives consumed nearly 22 of the 30 minutes. LSU ran 38 plays. Meanwhile, Tennessee had just 19 snaps in the third and fourth quarters.
"That was fun in the second half," said Ware, who finished the afternoon with a hard-earned 80 yards on 23 attempts. "In the first half, we were kind of slow. Tennessee changed up its looks on defense. In the second half, we just played LSU football that was fun."
Jordan Jefferson was the quarterback on the first two scoring drives of the second half. Jefferson guided the offense to two scores which consumed 165 yards. Jefferson completed one pass - an 8-yarder to Beckham. All of the other yards came on the ground.
Ware capped a 12-play, 66-yard drive after the second-half kickoff with a 1-yard touchdown run. Jefferson completed a 16-play, 99-yard march with a 3-yard scoring run. Jefferson ran nine times for 63 yards in the second half.
Lee, who got most of the snaps in the first half, re-entered the game on the Tigers' third second-half possession. Lee took LSU on a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive - all runs. Russell Shepard caught a backwards pass from Lee and ran 14 yards for the touchdown.
"You can feel the other team getting tired," center T-Bob Hebert said. "We just keep leaning on them. I have never been a part of something like the second half when we had just three series. It was fun even though it was exhausting."
For the first time since Jefferson was reinstated to the team, Miles utilized both quarterbacks a substantial amount of time. Lee completed 10 of 14 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson ran 14 times for 73 yards and a touchdown and completed one of three passes.
"Jordan and me have been in this system a long time," Lee said. "Both of us have started big games and both of us have won big games. Whoever is needed to make a big play will come in and do it. This team is something special. It will continue to work hard every week."
Jefferson was not made available to the media. Miles explained his use of the two quarterbacks against the Vols.
"I like using both quarterbacks," Miles said. "I think that's what works best. Both guys can do things. That's what we need to do. We'll continue to do that. I want for both guys to have success and for the team to have success.
"Both guys understand the situation. Both want to start and play all the time. Both will serve the team and put that in front of their personal wants."