UNC punter Grant Schallock routinely outkicked the coverage, as Peterson had ample time to pick the right hole to gain massive yardage after dispatching of UNC’s gunners.
“The gunners are always the most dangerous guys out there,” Peterson said. “You have to get past them first. The cornerback was taking away the inside, the interior guys gave me a little bit of time, and I made something happen. I have to tip my hat to them. Without them, none of that would be possible.”
At the end of the first half, Peterson had outpaced both starting offenses, accounting for 244 return yards by himself. UNC had 155 yards to LSU’s 195 in total offense.
“We expected him to be that kind of return guy, and he is,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “I suspect that it will be a different punting style that we will see from this point forward.”
For the game, Peterson ended up with a school-record 257 return yards, and he was nine yards short of the Southeastern Conference record.
“I knew I had (a record), but it definitely surprised me,” said Peterson of his performance. “It was just like a Red Sea out there, it just all opened.”
UNC struggled with keeping in its lanes and containing Peterson.
“We were shorthanded in a significant number of phases,” Davis said. “All the depth got eaten up on special teams. Guys were having to play way more plays than they needed to play.”
All but four LSU drives started at or past its own 40-yard-line, as the Tigers consistently won the field position battle.
“It was very tough but our defense is made to be in situations such as that,” defensive end Quinton Coples said. “When special teams mess up, we’ll go out there and clean up. We’re a team.”
Peterson showed little rust in terrorizing the UNC fan base.
“The last time I returned kicks?” Peterson said. “Had to be my fourth game of my senior season in high school. They stopped kicking it to me then, too.”
“I definitely told (Miles) I wanted to (return kicks),” Peterson said. “When the depth chart was released for the first time, I said ‘Oh yeah. I definitely got to make something happen.’”
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