NEW ORLEANS – The LSU football team hit the floor of the Superdome Friday for an hour of Media Day, doing television, newspaper and internet interviews for both the local and national media that have set up camp in the Big Easy for the next five days.
Here are some highlights from some of the top defensive players in attendance.
Montgomery says he’ll return
The only fresh news of the day came when sophomore defensive end Sam Montgomery said he intends to return to school for the 2012 season instead of entering the NFL Draft.
Montgomery leads the Tigers with 9 sacks among his 44 tackles and has combined with Ken Adams and Barkevious Mingo to give LSU a daunting presence on the edges.
Montgomery redshirted in 2009 and missed the last eight games of last season after a major knee injury that required surgery.
For defensive tackle Bennie Logan, who carries the same confident swagger as sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, keeping quiet – and off Twitter and out of the newspapers – has been tough over the past month.
“We are excited,” Logan said. “We are looking forward to this game and all the talk about restoring order. I am just looking forward to dominating this game.”
Recently, Alabama Outland Trophy Winner Barrett Jones said the game was not about “revenge,” but more so about “restoring order,” hinting that while the SEC has won five straight BCS National Championships, it’s the Crimson Tide that belongs on top of not just the SEC West, but the entire conference.
“I can promise we’ve watched more video on Trent than people have written about that battle,” senior linebacker Ryan Baker said.
That didn’t set will with the LSU defense, Logan said Friday.
“We haven’t really been talking (publically) much about this game,” Logan said. “We focus on our assignment.
“We hear the talk about what the Alabama guys are saying, and all this Barrett Jones, or whatever his name is, talking about restoring order. Who elected him sheriff? We are looking forward to playing against those guys.”
And more Trent Richardson
As much as the media has hyped up the battle between the LSU defense and Alabama’s star running back Trent Richardson, the Tigers say they’ve gotten a nice double-dose of the Heisman Trophy candidate.
Richardson finished with 89 yards – the most the Tigers allowed in a game this season – on 23 carries in the Nov. 5 bout in Tuscaloosa, a majority of those yards coming in the opening half.
“We eventually slowed him down, and we will be better about that on Monday,” Baker said. “I told my linebackers this week that we have got him figured out. We know how we need to attack him, and we’re confident we can slow him down again.”
For the defensive tackles, the order is short and simple.
“If you try to tackle him up high he will break the tackle or run you over,” Logan said. “The first game we did a good job of tackling in groups. We just have to keep him in the backfield.
Sophomore safety Eric Reid added: “We can’t let him out of the backfield.”
Healthy and eager
Reid has been rather straightforward about the torn quad injury that sidelined him against Ole Miss in late November.
Immediately, Reid told media members he would be unable to play against Arkansas, and then the following week told reporters that he was less than 90-percent healthy for the SEC Championship Game – though he played and finished with five tackles in a 42-10 win.
With a month of rest and recovery under his belt, Reid has no hesitations about Monday night.
“I will be out there and ready to roll,” he said.
That’s great news for LSU, in large part because of Reid’s performance in the first meeting with the Crimson Tide.
Down to the LSU 28-yard line in the fourth quarter, the Tide tried to get tricky and use wide receiver Marquis Maze as a passer out of the wildcat formation. Reid caught a glimpse of tight end Michael Williams breaking free, and the sophomore safety backtracked and grabbed the ball out of Williams’ hand for an interception at the 1-yard line, effectively shifting all momentum Alabama had built on the drive.
Sitting on the floor of the Superdome on Friday, Reid envisioned that something similar could play out on Monday.
“It may come down to that big play,” Reid said. “We are going to prepare, and hopefully we don’t let Alabama make any big plays. We have to keep them bottled up.”
Senior Bowl bound
Brandon Taylor, Will Blackwell and DeAngelo Peterson have been selected from LSU to play in February’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., giving the trio of seniors a coveted chance to impress professional scouts before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
“I actually found out the day after the Georgia game,” Taylor said. “I kept it under wraps and tried to surprise everybody. It was a big accomplishment for me. I wanted to win this game first and then focus on it after that.”
For Taylor, it’s about more than just the NFL. It’s also about following in his brother’s footsteps.
Former Tigers’ safety Curtis Taylor was a top prospect in the 2009 NFL Draft, when he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round.
Little brother is shooting for an even bigger splash.
“Curtis played in the East-West Shrine game and did a great job,” Taylor said. “I have to try and top that performance.”
That won’t be easy, even for a fourth-year Tiger that has spent time at cornerback and safety in one of the nation’s premier conferences.
“It’s very exciting because I get to play against the best seniors in the country, and we are all working towards the same goal,” Taylor said. “They will give it their best shot, and that’s what I have to do.”
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