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True Freshman Defensive Backs Shine in Cotton Bowl

LSU vs. Texas A&M
Mathieu makes plays. Period.
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If somebody would have told me the LSU defensive backs would have had a big game versus Texas A&M, that wouldn't have surprised me. The Tigers have Patrick Peterson, the best college defensive back since Charles Woodson.

The funny thing is Peterson didn't have a great game. Aggies wide receiver Jeff Fuller, who Peterson told me after the game will have a great future in the NFL, caught seven passes for 84 yards. Fuller must have forgot he was playing against the Thorpe and Bednarik Award winner.

But Peterson had others pick him up. The three that shined the brightest were all true freshman.

It all starts with Tyrann Mathieu, who won defensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl. He was all over the field making plays for LSU. Mathieu finished with seven tackles, two forced fumbles and once interception.

Safety Eric Reid picked off a pass in the Cotton Bowl, making it two straight games with an interception for the hard-hitting safety out of Dutchtown. But what was different from the Arkansas game was that Reid looked more comfortable pre-snap against the Aggies. He will be a difference maker for LSU in the future.

The most surprising play came from cornerback Tharold Simon. At 6'4'', Simon looked like a veteran when defensive coordinator John Chavis put him in man-coverage. He tackled with precision, and showed great ball skills by bringing in an interception. The most impressive part was he played a complete football game as a corner in a limited amount of snaps.

The future for the LSU defensive backfield will be scary. Throw in fellow underclassmen Craig Loston, Brandon Taylor, Karnell Hatcher, Morris ClaiborneDerrick Bryant and Ron Brooks and LSU could have the best defense in the SEC next season. With the depth at this position, Chavis should have no problem running his Nickel, Dime and "Mustang" packages next season.

Mathieu said some strong words after the game for a team that is losing a Bednarik award winner, the team's leading tackler (Kelvin Sheppard) and best pass rusher (Drake Nevis). 

"I think we can even be better next season," said Mathieu said of the LSU defense after the Cotton Bowl.

After this crazy LSU football season, the last thing I want to do is doubt this 5'9'' true freshman.


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