Story published: Sunday, October 15, 2006
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Rich Brooks walked into his post-game news conference, saw a big purple and gold banner hanging in the background and immediately quipped, "Great, I get to see more LSU."
The UK coach saw more than enough of the Tigers last night, as his team was manhandled 49-0 in front of 92,148 fans at Tiger Stadium.Aside from a season-opening blowout at Louisville, UK had been competitive in its other two losses. But the 16th-ranked Tigers, probably still smarting from a loss at Florida last week, took the Cats to the woodshed from the opening kick to the final horn.
LSU, which outgained UK 546-277, scored touchdowns on its first four possessions, and the Tigers did it in easy fashion.
It marked the first time UK was shut out since a 28-0 loss to Louisville in the 2004 season opener. It was also the worst loss of the Brooks era.
"We played a very, very poor game against a very, very good football team," Brooks said. "The combination of that was not very pretty. Obviously we weren't interested in playing, or we weren't ready, and that's my fault, I guess."
Tigers quarterback JaMarcus Russell completed his first 12 passes and was 15-for-18 for 226 yards and two TDs before leaving midway through the third quarter with LSU leading 35-0. Senior receiver Dwayne Bowe had six catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
"They threw it at will on us," Brooks said. "We weren't covering tightly or rushing the passer well, and that combination is deadly against a talented quarterback that can do the things this guy can do."
Kentucky (3-4, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) did drive to near midfield on the game's opening drive but was whistled for interference and a personal foul on the ensuing punt, setting up LSU in good field position.
That's when the floodgates opened. Jacob Hester ran 7 yards up the middle for the game's first touchdown at 8:56. Russell hit Bowe for a 7-yard scoring pass for a 14-0 Tigers lead with 4:50 left in the first, and Hester tacked on his second TD with a 4-yarder at the 12:55 mark of the second quarter. Bowe added a 48-yard score four minutes later.
"They jumped on us quick and we never recovered," said UK defensive coordinator Mike Archer. "We just didn't respond. It almost looked like we were sleepwalking."
"LSU was on top of their game, and obviously we didn't come to play," said junior linebacker Joe Schuler.
Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson had his worst statistical game of the season, completing 14 of 37 passes for 151 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
"This was the worst offensively we've played all year," Woodson said.
Things didn't get any better in the second half. Charles Scott ripped off a 38-yard run on the first play of the third quarter, and Early Doucet scored on a 12-yard run off a direct snap three plays later to make it 35-0 at 12:59.
LSU backup quarterback Matt Flynn relieved Russell midway through the third and threw two TD passes of his own, an 8-yarder to Bowe and a 2-yarder to Shawn Jordan.
Kentucky has an open date next week before returning to action Oct. 28 at Mississippi State, and Brooks said everybody needs to do some soul-searching during the time off.
"Up to this point, we have competed well, but we did not compete tonight," Brooks said. "It's clearly a step back, and we'll find out how big in two weeks when we play Mississippi State. It's certainly something that doesn't define our season. We still have five games left and a chance to get to our goals. But we're definitely at a crossroads. This needs to make us step up and take a good hard look at ourselves and see what we want to do."
Senior center Matt McCutchan returned to the starting lineup last night after missing three games with a high ankle sprain.
Sophomore Ventrell Jenkins and junior Travis Day started at defensive tackle in place of injured starters Lamar Mills (shoulder) and Myron Pryor (elbow). Mills and Pryor did see action off the bench.