ATLANTA — Louisiana State University cornerback Tyrann Mathieu had to wait until late in the first half for Georgia punter Drew Butler to make a mistake.
When the moment came, Mathieu, nicknamed the “Honey Badger” for his relentless approach, took what he wanted.
Punting from Georgia’s end zone, Butler had to rush the kick and left Mathieu with plenty of room to find a lane.
Mathieu raced 62 yards for the Tigers’ first score of the game.
“It was just poor execution on my part,” Butler said. “I just wanted to get it out there and get the kick off. I left my guys out to dry for sure.”
Mathieu struck again in the third quarter. He returned a punt 47 yards to the Georgia 17-yard line.
“What it came down to is me trying to do what I can for my team,” said Mathieu, who also recovered a fumble.
LSU scored three plays later, extending its lead to 21-10.
INJURIES STRIKE TAILBACKS: Matchups or fatigue didn’t dictate which Georgia running back played on a specific down Saturday. The rotation was more a matter of who could physically play.
Freshman Isaiah Crowell limped and hobbled on his still recovering sprained left ankle for most of the first half.
Carlton Thomas was unable to finish the game after suffering a knee injury in the third quarter.
Richard Samuel was unable to play four weeks removed from foot surgery.
OPPORTUNITIES DROPPED: While Georgia led at halftime, there were missed opportunities that could have built an even greater lead.
Junior receiver Tavarres King had a pass from Aaron Murray go through his hands in the end zone on the first drive of the game.
The Bulldogs settled for a 40-yard field goal by kicker Blair Walsh.
On the next series, freshman wideout Malcolm Mitchell had a sure touchdown fall from his grasp.
Walsh missed a 45-yard attempt on the next play.
Later in the first quarter, junior cornerback Sanders Commings, a former Westside star, let an interception go through his hands deep in LSU territory. Had Commings made the pick, a touchdown was likely.