by Barca Blog - Even with a banged-up unit (see previous blog), Vanderbilt's defense put up an impressive second half showing in the Commodores' 23-9 loss to LSU Saturday night in Baton Rouge.
"We came out of the locker room at the half knowing that we needed to stop them in order for us to win," said sophomore cornerback Casey Hayward. "We just wanted to give our offense a chance."
The defense did just that.
Trailing 16-7 midway through the third quarter, Vanderbilt forced the Tigers into three consecutive three-and-outs deep in their own territory. Hayward contributed tackles for loss on each of those possessions while two series ended with sacks by Patrick Benoist (one assisted by Brent Trice). Unfortunately, the offense wasn't able to capitalize on the field position and the momentum.
Overall, Vanderbilt limited LSU to only 94 yards of total offense and seven points in the second half after giving up 232 yards and 16 points in the first half.
"We just went out there and played 100 percent, full-speed," said linebacker Chris Marve, who had 11 tackles and a forced fumble. "With the injuries to our team, the second string just came out and played their hearts out."
Hayward had an outstanding night in only his second career start. The Elko, Ga., native led the team with a career-best 13 tackles, including a career-high four tackles for loss.
"Casey's a very versatile player and doesn't mind mixing it up," head coach Bobby Johnson said. "He's a good player, which is just what we expected out of him."
(AP Photo/Bill Haber)