Editor’s note: The Advocate is counting down the days to LSU’s Sept. 4 season opener against Florida State with excerpts from the book “LSU By the Numbers.” Friday marks 58 days until kickoff, so we’re looking back at the Tigers’ greatest No. 58, Lionel Turner:
58 Lionel Turner
Nick Saban had all sorts of blitzes named after states.
The one that sealed LSU’s BCS National Championship Game victory over Oklahoma in 2004 had Lionel Turner’s name all over it.
It was do-or-die time for the Tigers and the Sooners. With two minutes left, LSU was clinging to a 21-14 lead and Oklahoma was clinging to its hopes for a game-tying touchdown on fourth-and-10 from its 49.
Jason White, the Sooners’ Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, dropped back to pass. But before he could find a receiver, Turner zoomed right up the middle on a delayed blitz to knock White down at the 40.
The ball went over to the Tigers with 1:51 left. LSU had to punt back to the Sooners on the final play of the game, but time ran out as the ball rolled out of bounds to give the Tigers the victory.
It may have been the signature moment of Turner’s career, but it was hardly the end.
Born in Baton Rouge in 1982, the former Walker High standout went from a role player as a redshirt freshman on LSU’s 2001 SEC championship team to the man who was called on to fill All-American Bradie James’ considerable cleats at middle linebacker going into the 2003 season. Turner recorded 71 tackles in 2002 then had 78 in 2003, second-most on the team along with five sacks and two interceptions.
A first-team All-SEC selection as a senior, Turner started all 12 games (26 straight over his last two seasons) and recorded 82 tackles to finish second behind only LaRon Landry’s 92.
Year G Tackles Sacks FR INTs
2001 11-0 7 0 0 0
2002 12-11 71 3 2 0
2003 14-14 78 3 0 2
2004 12-12 82 2 0 0
TOTALS 49-37 239 8 2 2