Atlanta, Ga. - In the third quarter, up 24-13, it finally looked like eighth-ranked LSU was pulling away from 14th-ranked Clemson.
But when the Tigers needed a first down in the fourth quarter to end the game, they changed their previously steady course on the ground and decided to pass the ball on 2nd-and-2 and 3rd-and-2. Freshman running back Jeremy Hill ran for 124 yards on 12 carries but none of those came in the last period.
"I just do what the coaches ask me to do," Hill said after the game. "I really don't want to point any fingers or anything like that. You've just got to execute the plays the coaches call. Every play is designed to be successful if everyone does their job correctly so if one guy misses their assignment, it kind of ruins the whole play. As far as play calling, I think the coaches did a great job of calling plays."
With the loss, Les Miles fell to 5-3 in bowl games at LSU. He too defended the play calling. "There was a number of guys in there that we couldn't block. Simply put, if we complete a couple balls, they have to take those guys out of the box and it's a different game."
With the offense stalling, the defense ran out of gas on the final drive of the game for Clemson. Quarterback Tajh Boyd led the purple and orange down the field to set up the field goal and complete the upset.
"With an opponent who really snapped the ball about 50 times more than our offense, that defense played their butt off," Miles said. "There's young men there that are just spent."
An emotional defensive end Sam Montgomery told reporters after the game, "Fatigue, focus, mental... doing your assignment -- there's so many things those last couple minutes of a game, that's where football players come full circle. You have to have everything in order to know how to do everything right in a split second."
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