BATON ROUGE, La. — The cardinal sin of admiring any work of art is to admit that you don’t get it.
LSU cornerback Donte Jackson committed that sin Saturday night.
With time dwindling down in the third quarter of LSU’s 38-21 win over Ole Miss on Saturday night, the Rebels lined up for a first-and-10 with their heels squashed back on their own 6-yard line. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly handed the ball off to running back Eugene Brazley, who broke left off the exchange. LSU linebacker Duke Riley filled the hole, stopping Brazley’s forward momentum.
Then Jackson joined the fight and ripped the ball out of Brazley’s hands. A couple of Jackson’s teammates lunged toward the ball, which had trickled into the end zone. The ruling on the field was that Brazley was down before the ball popped out. But the replay on the scoreboard seemed to tell a different story.
LSU challenged, but the ruling on the field was confirmed. Brazley was down. Well, he was down to the referee. Not to Jackson.
“Oh man, I thought I (stripped it),” Jackson said. “I wasn’t even worrying if his knee was down. I just felt like I ripped the ball out. But they showed me a picture and said that he knee was down. Nah, I didn’t see it.”
Saturday night was an interesting one for Jackson. The sophomore led the LSU secondary in tackles with a season-high 6, came down with his second interception of the year and returned two kickoffs, each going for 16 yards. But he also was called for 3 pass interference penalties, none of which Jackson seemed to particularly agree with.
Jackson said LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond helped calm him down after the dubious flags were thrown, reminding him to do what interim coach Ed Orgeron preaches and control what he can control.
“The refs were just flag-happy,” Jackson said. “(Raymond) just told me, ‘That’s not your place to worry about that. You just flush it and move on.’ That’s what I did. I wasn’t really too much worried about it. I know what the nation saw.”
After a defensive back is called for pass interference, Jackson explained, it’s a lot like after a quarterback throws an interception. You can’t let the mistake get to you. All you can do is rely on your technique and coaching, and eventually the good will outweigh the bad.
Still, Jackson said he doesn’t believe what he did was interfering, especially since the receiver he was primarily lined up against, Quincy Adeboyejo, is a 6-foot-3 behemoth who Jackson doesn’t think is fazed much by some run-of-the-mill hand-checking. One of his pass interference calls came while guarding Adeboyejo, and the other two came while checking Damore’ea Stringfellow.
Though you easily can list the pass interference call as a win for Adeboyejo, Jackson won nearly every other time the two matched up. Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly targeted Adeboyejo only 3 times and Adeboyejo was held to his fewest receiving yards since Week 3 against No. 1 Alabama.
Jackson credited this success to the preparation that he and Raymond put in in the week leading up to the game. LSU knew that Kelly likes to target man-to-man coverage in the deep thirds of the field, so Jackson was ready when the ball came his way, especially on his interception.
“We definitely knew that. We went over that a whole lot,” Jackson said. “We know that he likes to throw. We know he thinks his receivers are bigger, stronger, tougher than we are. We just came out ready to play with that on our mind. … So I knew that he was going to throw the ball my way. But he gave me a gift at the end of the day.”