BATON ROUGE, La. — Monday is Halloween: a holiday that people seem to enjoy, for reasons unbeknownst to me.
My general Scroogery aside, the best part of Halloween is having the opportunity to dress up as someone you aren’t, or someone you wish you could be. People all across America partake in the tradition, so why shouldn’t LSU football players and coaches?
With that in mind, I’ve picked out some topical, 2016-centric costumes for some members of the LSU football team to wear to their parties tonight. And here’s the twist: I’ve picked out costumes that symbolize who these LSU football players need to be in order for the Tigers to beat Alabama this weekend.
Positive visualization, right?
Danny Etling: Deadpool
One of the biggest hit movies of 2016, Deadpool tells the story of a quick-talking and clever hitman who has the supernatural ability to regenerate. Though he feels pain, he’s pretty much impossible to kill.
If there’s ever been a better metaphor for who Etling needs to be this weekend, I can’t think of it.
Etling is going to get hit a lot on Saturday. A lot. No team in America sacks the quarterback more frequently than Alabama. And that’s not even counting the other 46 quarterback hurries that the Crimson Tide defense has accumulated this season.
I’m not saying Etling needs to curse like Deadpool. And I’m not saying that Etling needs to go out and seek revenge above all else. All I’m saying is that for LSU to have a chance Saturday, Etling needs to be able to absorb all the pain in the world and not let it affect him.
If Etling does that, LSU has a shot.
The offensive line: Trump’s border wall
Political costumes will be all the rage tonight with the election eight days away, so why not have the LSU offensive line go for a group costume as an object designed to keep outsiders from breaching your territory?
Much like Donald Trump’s actual proposal, I don’t know if dressing up like a wall can make an offensive line play like a wall. But that’s the kind of attitude the LSU offensive line needs to have for the team to have any chance of moving the ball against Alabama.
Leonard Fournette: Jon Snow
Don’t worry, people. I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones. So, I probably can’t spoil it for you.
But as a human being with a Twitter account, I’ve gathered that Snow died, then came back to life.
Well, last year against Alabama, Fournette all but died. Alabama vanquished Fournette’s 100-yard game streak, extinguished his Heisman Trophy chances and eliminated LSU from championship consideration.
Now, Fournette needs to come back to life. And he needs to be the hero that Game of Thrones Land deserves. (I’ve really never watched this show.)
As we saw last time LSU took the field, a healthy and thriving Fournette is just about unstoppable. That’s the Fournette LSU will need to be present for the game to be remotely close.
Ed Orgeron: Farmer Fran
Yeah, this isn’t topical. It was just begging to be pointed out.
Three things: Scouting Alabama
A lot of times, we in the media are guilty of peddling the narrative that Alabama is unbeatable.
Better than anybody else? Yes. But unbeatable? No. No team is without flaws. So, let’s nitpick. Here are the top three flaws that LSU needs to exploit to beat Alabama.
1. Alabama gives up a lot of long pass plays
Since Alabama almost always jumps out to an early lead, teams have to throw on the Tide virtually all game. And because of this, there’s a blueprint on how to beat Alabama deep.
In eight games, the Nick Saban and Jeremy Pruitt-led defense has allowed 28 pass plays of 20 yards or more and 12 of 30 yards or more.
2. The Tide aren’t great in punt coverage
Alabama doesn’t allow a lot of punts to be returned; the special teams unit has allowed only seven punts to be returned this season.
But when opponents can return punts, they tend to go for a long distance. Alabama is allowing more than 13 yards per punt return this season.
3. Jalen Hurts doesn’t play well on third-and-long
For as well as he’s played, it’s easy to forget that Hurts still is a true freshman. And freshman have a hard time in pressure situations.
On third downs of 10 yards to go or longer, Hurts has completed 46.7 percent of his passes. By comparison, on third downs with 9 or fewer yards to go, Hurts is completing 70 percent of his passes. Additionally, Hurts has thrown two of his five interceptions on third-and-long and converted first downs on one-third of his dropbacks.
Tom Herman watch
Houston coach Tom Herman will be the hottest commodity in coaching this offseason. Every high-profile school with a coaching vacancy, including LSU, will at least gauge Herman’s interest before making its final hire.
So, what did Herman do this week? Well, his Cougars rallied back from a huge deficit to win a game, improving the team’s record to 7-2 and pushing the Cougars to No. 26 in the AP Top 25 Poll this week. In other words, Houston received the most votes of any team that didn’t officially make the Top 25.
How about Herman’s suitors? Well, LSU was on bye, so no change there. But Texas coach Charlie Strong made a huge move toward keeping his job at season’s end by upsetting the unbeaten Baylor Bears and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had a similar showing by leading his team to victory over Miami.
Even much-maligned Oregon coach Mark Helfrich brought his team a win Saturday, beating Arizona State.
Some of those coaches are going to get fired. Heck, all three of them might get fired. But for now, Herman Watch stays in second gear.
Revisionist history: Head coaching edition
Both LSU and Auburn are in good places right now, maybe the best places they’ve been in all season. Which only makes me wonder what would’ve been.
As you undoubtedly remember, LSU lost to Auburn this year on a last-second touchdown that was overturned by the referees.
Had the original call on the field been confirmed, LSU would’ve escaped the Plains with a win. And Les Miles likely would’ve escaped with his job.
Gus Malzahn, on the other hand, probably would’ve lost his.
Such is the karmic balance of football. The outcome of one silly play decided the job fates of two qualified men. But that’s just how life goes in Saban’s SEC.
So, I ask you a tough question, LSU fans: If you could change the outcome of this year’s Auburn game, would you?
This means LSU is a one-loss team heading into the Missouri game, still in control of its own destiny in the National Championship hunt. But it also means Miles and Cam Cameron keep their jobs. Is that a compromise you’d be willing to make?
Vote in the poll below.
Your weekly NFLSU update
LSU has a lot of players in the NFL. Here are how some of them fared Sunday:
- Jeremy Hill and his Cincinnati Bengals played to a tie in London on Sunday morning. Hill rushed 20 times for 76 yards and a touchdown.
- Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware missed the second half of the Chiefs’ win over the Colts with a concussion. It is unclear how long Ware will be out.
- Though his Buccaneers lost in overtime, linebacker Kwon Alexander had another dominant performance, recording 14 tackles, one for loss, and breaking up 1 pass.
- Defensive tackle Kyle Williams didn’t see his Bills win Sunday, but he did get to hit Tom Brady a bunch of times. Williams finished the game with 2 tackles, both TFLs, 1 sack and 3 quarterback hits.
- Safety Tyrann Mathieu left in the first half of the Cardinals’ loss to the Panthers with a shoulder injury. He did not return. Fellow LSU Cardinals Kevin Minter and Patrick Peterson combined to make 13 tackles.
- Falcons rookie Deion Jones continued the hot start to his NFL freshman campaign, logging 4 tackles, two for losses, and notching 1 pass breakup as his Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers.
Your Monday nonrevenue sports update
The LSU football team took the weekend off. The rest of the athletic department didn’t. Here’s a roundup of some of the scores from this weekend’s events:
- LSU volleyball’s road trip didn’t go too well this weekend, as the squad lost 3-1 to South Carolina on Friday night and in straight sets to Florida on Sunday.
- Men’s and women’s swimming and diving couldn’t hold down the home turf this weekend, losing events against Auburn. The men lost a close affair 153-147 and the women fell 162-138.
- The cross country teams competed in the SEC Championships this weekend, and they didn’t come in last. Other than that, there aren’t too many notable achievements to mention. LSU’s top male finisher placed 36th and the top women’s competitor finished 54th.
Arbitrary Analysis, part 1
Every other week here in the Briefing, I like to arbitrarily count down unquantifiable facts about pop culture. This week, with the Alabama game looming, there’s only one thing I would ever want to count down.
Since I am an American human being with cable, I’ve seen the movie Forrest Gump approximately four times a year since I was 8 years old. And I assume most of you have, too. Since it’s impossible to have not seen this movie, and Forrest famously played for Bear Bryant’s Alabama squads in the early 1960s, this week’s Arbitrary Analysis is, of course, about Gump.
I’m going to list my picks for the five best scenes in perhaps the most quotable movie of all time. Be sure to follow along with the Briefing all week as I unveil my picks day by day. Today, we talk about No. 5:
No. 5: Forrest runs ‘Against the Wind’
I don’t want to come off as too much of a film snob (I am one), so I’ll leave the deconstruction of what makes particular scenes work to later in the week. For today, I just want to talk about music.
So much of what makes Forrest Gump such a beloved film is its soundtrack. Nearly every scene comes complete with a song everyone recognizes, and in a lot of cases can sing along to. This scene is my favorite example.
Forrest likes to run. Early on in the film, he describes his ability to run as “like the wind.” But now he’s running while conflicted. So, he’s not running like the wind. He’s running against it.
And that quote. “You’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” It’s a perfect metaphor for the turning point in Forrest’s life. Ahhhhh. I can gush for days about how brilliant Robert Zemeckis’ direction was in this movie. It really is great.
Plus there’s humor. Just watch the clip. Then rewatch it. You know what, Forrest Gump is on Netflix. Let’s watch it together five times this week.