In the two-week lead-up to LSU’s highly-anticipated match up with No. 1 Alabama, a lot of names were mentioned as potential X-factors.
Todd Harris was not one of those names.
But after John Battle exited the game with an ankle injury suffered on the night’s opening drive, the sophomore safety stepped into his role and put together what LSU head coach Ed Orgeron called his best performance as a Tiger.
He finished the game with nine solo tackles and three assisted takedowns and became the first person to intercept Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this season.
“I practice like I’m going to start, so I was used to playing,” Harris said. “I’ve played in some games. I played against Louisiana Tech, I played against Ole Miss. It wasn’t a big deal, really. I knew I had to step up when I went in. I take notes and stuff in film, so I was up to the game.”
Harris said he prepares every week like he’s going to start, so getting thrown into that situation in LSU’s biggest game of the season didn’t phase him much.
He credited Battle with preparing him for the moment and for giving him tips on the sideline throughout the game.
“John was talking to me the whole game, just telling me different things,” Harris said. “John’s an experienced guy, so he’s seen a lot of things. He was telling me what to look for, what to expect and keeping my confidence up.
“It helped a lot knowing I had him to look up to if I had a question. He
Harris and Battle live together, and the two have had a mentor-mentee relationship since Harris arrived on campus as a freshman. He referred to Battle as a brother.
He jokingly called Battle “the grandpa” of the secondary as one of the few seniors to get significant playing time in LSU’s secondary.
“When we’re doing bad, he comes and gets on us,” Harris said. “When we’re doing good, he applauds us. Just stuff like that.”
Orgeron referred to Battle’s status for the Arkansas game as “questionable” saying there’s about a 50/50 chance he starts against the Razorbacks.
Harris said he’s ready to step up once again if he’s needed to.
“I want to play every game if I can,” Harris said. “That’s the goal. I’m going to do what the team needs me to do. If that’s special teams I’ll do special teams, and if they want to rotate me in to play defense I’ll go play defense.”
Trouble up front
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron didn’t mince words after LSU’s offensive line struggled from start to finish in 29-0 loss to Alabama.
In his post-game press conference, Orgeron said it starts at recruiting, saying he and his coaching staff need to get better personnel to compete with a team like Alabama.
He seemingly stood by that statement Monday afternoon, saying the Tigers need more depth and talent up front on both sides of the ball.
“… On offensive and defensive line we have to be better in terms of building more depth, increasing the number of quality players that we already have,” Orgeron said.
This week, the Tigers will take on a Razorbacks squad with a defensive line that has done a decent job of pressuring quarterbacks with 23 sacks on the season.
Orgeron said the offensive line will have to step up and perform better than it did against Alabama after a disappointing performance in which it gave up five sacks.
“We’re all disappointed, no question,” Orgeron said. “We could have coached better, we could have executed better, line of scrimmage struggled at times. We got to get them more help.”
Night games only
The Tigers have played the last of their regular-season day games as LSU announced its last two games at home against Rice and on the road against Texas A&M will both kickoff at 6:30 p.m.
The Rice game, which will serve as senior night for the Tigers, will air on ESPNU, while the season finale in College Station, Texas, will air on the SEC Network.