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Freshman QB Jennings struggles for LSU

TAMPA — It was a rocky debut for LSU QB Anthony Jennings in the Outback Bowl on Wednesday, but the freshman did enough to help guide the Tigers to a 21-14 win.

Jennings, the third true freshman quarterback in program history to make his first career start in a bowl, finished 7-for-19 for 82 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked four times.

LSU coach Les Miles said Jennings looked "tight as heck."

"First time out, he did some things you would like to have back," Miles said. "But he managed the game and comes away with a victory."

Jennings' longest pass came in the third quarter, as WR Odell Beckham made a leaping, one-handed catch along the sideline for 29 yards.

But two plays later, Iowa DB John Lowdermilk intercepted Jennings' pass across the middle and returned it 71 yards to set up the Hawkeyes' first touchdown.

"He came to the sideline just sick," Miles said. "He's got to drop it. We're in the middle of a game. There's some lessons that he learned that will benefit him as he moves forward. He was not perfect by any stretch, but he did the things he needed to do."

SPECIAL GROUP: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he will have many fond memories of this year's team for the way it competed throughout the season.

After finishing 4-8 last season — their worst record in 12 years — the Hawkeyes rebounded to win eight games for the first time since 2010.

"The thing that's important is what these guys did the last 13 months," Ferentz said. "The focus that they had, the commitment they had. There was not much else you could ask for. And I think each and every game, we've competed hard and given ourselves a chance to win."

FeRGUSON OUT: Miles said LSU junior DT Ego Ferguson did not travel with the team because of an undisclosed medical issue.

Ferguson, one of several LSU underclassmen reportedly leaning toward declaring early for the NFL draft, was replaced by sophomore Quentin Thomas, who had one tackle in his first career start.

Ferguson started 12 games for the Tigers and finished with 58 total tackles and one sack.

THIS AND THAT: LSU's first-half shutout was its first in a bowl since the 1963 Bluebonnet Bowl against Baylor. … The Tigers clinched their fourth straight season with double-digit wins, a program record. … Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz caught four passes to extend his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 31. … Announced attendance at Raymond James Stadium was 51,296. That's down from last year's 54,527 for Michigan-South Carolina.

Freshman QB Jennings struggles for LSU 01/01/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 10:01pm]
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