November 9, 2008

Lindsey Has Knack For Making Big Plays

In a career filled with big plays, Jordin Lindsey might have saved his best for last.

A month after his blocked field goal helped spark South Carolina to a 31-24 victory at Kentucky, Lindsey contributed another game-changing play in Saturday's 34-21 victory over Arkansas at Williams-Brice Stadium.

With time winding down in the third quarter, and USC holding a precarious 20-14 lead, Arkansas drove into USC territory and appeared on the verge of taking the lead outright.

But Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick threw a pass out towards the right side when Lindsey, reading the tight end, leaped and snagged the ball out of mid-air at the USC 45 and rumbled 40 yards to the AR 15.

"I saw the tight end cross my face so I knew it was going to be a short pass," Lindsey said. "I was able to get my hands up at the right time and it just stuck. I tried to run as far as I could with it until I collapsed."

Was it the biggest play of the game? Heck, it could end up being the biggest of the season, especially if USC ends up playing in a New Year's Day Bowl game like the Outback Bowl in Tampa.

As far as Steve Spurrier is concerned, it was the perfect combination of the right player being in the right place at the right time.

"Jordin Lindsey made the play that turned it all around," Spurrier said. "What a play. Not many guys can jump up and intercept that pass. They usually knock it down or something like that. But that thing stuck. Someone said it was just like the Liberty Bowl two years ago when he jumped up and got one and helped turn that game around."

Lindsey said the interception was the product of watching a lot of film this past week and noticing the Razorbacks' tendencies in certain situation.

"We knew they were going to try and hit a bunch of short routes," Lindsey said. "All day we were trying to get our hands up. I was able to get in the right spot and get my hands up at the right time."

Lindsey joked about his vertical leap - or lack thereof.

"I don't have the best vert(ical leap), but I got as high as I could and tried to take it as far as I could." Lindsey smiled. "The ball stuck and I just took off."

Lindsey was awarded a game ball for his efforts. He finished with two tackles in his final appearance at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The interception jumpstarted a 14-point surge for USC within a span of 8:28 that put the game out of reach.

"That was a great play," USC defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. "He was actually involved in the pass rush He was working outside and was able to get a hand on it. He's pretty athletic for a defensive lineman. He made a great reaction to the ball."

On the second play following the interception, Stephen Garcia found Kenny McKinley on a fade route in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

"We had a big speech on the sidelines," Lindsey said. "We knew somebody on defense was going to have to step up and make a play. Luckily, I was the one that was able to do that for our defense and our team. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it because we needed something to change the pace of the game."

The interception was simply the latest chapter in a career that has seen Lindsey make a number of outstanding plays. A year after intercepting a pass in the Independence Bowl, Lindsey picked off a screen pass and recovered a fumble in the 2006 Liberty Bowl win over Houston.

In many respects, his interception Saturday was reminiscent of his theft in the Liberty Bowl when he captured Defensive MVP honors, though Lindsey noted one key difference.

"In the Liberty Bowl, that was more of a screen, while this was a crossing route, but it was the same play right off the line," Lindsey said.

Four weeks ago, Lindsey roared through the line in Lexington and blocked a seemingly easy 21-yard field goal attempt against Kentucky. The ball ricocheted off his forearm and bounced perfectly into the arms of Captain Munnerlyn, who returned it 81 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

Since USC won the game by seven points, Lindsey's play loomed large afterwards.

After watching from the sidelines last season due to academic deficiencies, Lindsey has made the most of his final chance with the Gamecocks. He has 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks while sharing time with Clifton Geathers at defensive end.

"He's one of our best kickoff cover guys, too," Spurrier said. "Jordin is a good football player and he loves playing. He can make some plays like that."

Together with his first three years on the active roster (2004-2006), Lindsey has 91 tackles, three interceptions, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries in 42 career games.

"I was motivated to do well because I worked so hard to get back," Lindsey said. "I knew this whole year was going to be important to me, so I've tried to play like it. (Last year) I tried to be as supportive as I could, but it was still hard emotionally for me. But I overcame it and now I'm ready to finish out my season."

Lindsey, along with his twin brother Dustin, is set to graduate next spring with a degree in history, He's compiled a GPA in excess of 3.0 over the last several semesters.

"It's been a bumpy road," Jordin Lindsey said. "I had a lot of family here and luckily I was able to do that for my teammates and the fans. (Before the game) I was the one trying to keep my parents strong. My family loves this place. They've never been treated better in their lives. They're going to miss it a lot. We're glad we were able to finish up like this."

With USC having reached the seven win plateau, the Gamecocks are assured of appearing in a bowl game for the third time in Lindsey's career. But, with Florida and Clemson left on the schedule, he vowed the Gamecocks wanted more.

"We're looking for nine wins," Lindsey said. "We're not satisfied with seven. Hopefully, we can finish up with nine."

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