Brian Kelly has proven he can coach a bit seven games into his LSU tenure. Sure, there was the out-of-nowhere southern accent, killer dance moves and awkward halftime and postgame interviews against Florida State, but Kelly has his team trending in the right direction.
Ole Miss entered last Saturday's matchup in Baton Rouge as the No. 7 team in the country and a threat to make the College Football Playoff. They left as 25-point losers with a still possible but convoluted path to national championship contention.
A lot of LSU's 45-20 routing of the Rebels can be attributed to quarterback Jayden Daniels, who threw for two touchdowns and ran in three more. However, the turning point was a defensive play by safety Joe Foucha.
Joe Foucha's Third Quarter Interception Turned the Tide Against Ole Miss
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Let's set the scene. Ole Miss jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first half before Jayden Daniels led two scoring drives, bringing the score to 20-17 going into halftime. The Tiger offense stalled on their opening second half possession, but Daniels piloted a touchdown drive on the ensuing possession, giving LSU a 24-20 advantage.
Lane Kiffin's high-powered offense responded by marching down the field to LSU's 9-yard line. On second down, LSU linebacker Micah Baskerville shot through the line unblocked, forcing Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart to hurry his throw to wide receiver Malik Heath.
Baskerville's pressure allowed Foucha to make a one-handed interception. He intelligently knelt in the end zone for the touchback, too.
It was all LSU from there.
The Tigers scored three more touchdowns to convincingly win 45-20. The final score was even more of a trouncing than it first appeared because LSU outscored Ole Miss 42-3 from the second quarter on. That's the kind of fight you want to see from your team when they're down.
"You can see the resilience in this team," he said. "Once we get going, we're hard to stop."
The victory was not only Kelly's first marquee win at LSU, but his team now controls their own destiny in the SEC West. Saying that is a lot easier said than done. It all comes down to whether or not they can beat Alabama on November 5. Looking back on how the season started, the progress is more than welcome.
Foucha's game-changing interception wouldn't have happened without Baskerville pressuring Dart. It was a team-effort mentality that's beginning to define the season.
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