BATON ROUGE, La. — For an article that we ran here on SEC Country on Thursday, I spoke to former LSU football quarterback Herb Tyler about the state of LSU’s quarterback situation.
If you haven’t read that yet, go ahead and give it a read. But Tyler said something else in our chat about the LSU football program at large that I want to talk about here.
Unless you have the world’s shortest memory or stumbled upon this column thinking it was about actual Bayou Bengals, you probably remember that LSU hired Ed Orgeron to replace Les Miles as head football coach this season. And, as with all coaches who come in after a disappointing end to a previous regime, Orgeron is expected to right all of LSU’s wrongs and set the program back in its intended direction.
Orgeron has a mandate. The fans wanted him to get the job and his interim success speaks for itself. LSU fans want Orgeron to win, and they want him to win now. But, to quote Morrissey, ‘How soon is now?’
Winning out of the gate is hard. Heck, Nick Saban went 7-6 in his first season at Alabama and Bear Bryant went 5-4-1 in his. People don’t always succeed immediately. Which is why Tyler told me he doesn’t expect Orgeron to fully get into the groove until 2018.
“I give coach O, not this year but the following year,” Tyler said. “If they get the two years of recruiting in that they want and once they implement their plans offensively and defensively, I think it’s going to be scary for the rest of the nation.”
But my question is simple: Does Orgeron have the luxury to struggle? I’m not saying he will, but it would be natural for LSU to regress in a year where it loses Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Kendell Beckwith, Tre’Davious White, Duke Riley, Ethan Pocic and more. But given the years of consistently above-average mediocrity fans endured under Miles, a drop-off from above average to average under Orgeron could trigger some semblance of a sense of regret.
LSU didn’t fire Miles because he was doing badly. Miles got fired because he wasn’t doing good enough. And history says coach O won’t do good enough in his first year either.
I’m sure there will be fans who will support coach O if he goes 0-12 and there will be fans who think 11-1 isn’t good enough. There are always outliers in any situation. But if LSU wins between six and eight games and finished third or fourth in the SEC West, will the favor on Orgeron turn?
I hope not. But I’ve seen weirder things happen.
The point is, temper your expectations. Don’t jump down a guy’s throat after one season, even if that one year is rough. It takes a while for coaches to install their systems and instill their attitudes. Even if Orgeron did get a head start in 2016, this will still be his first season.
Don’t forget to treat it like one.
Fournette over Elliott? What?
According to a poll administered by NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, three out of five NFL executives would take former LSU running back Leonard Fournette over All-Pro Dallas Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott.
This is ridiculous.
Don’t get me wrong, Fournette was a great running back and I think he’ll be a pretty good NFL one, too.
But Elliott led the NFL in rushing as a rookie. I don’t care if he has the best offensive line in football in front of him and I don’t care that he carried 23 more times than any other runner. You could play behind an offensive line made up of Greek gods and run the ball 400 times, I’d still be impressed if you rush for 300 more yards than anyone else as a rookie.
For what it’s worth, I had Elliott graded out as a better running back than Fournette before this season ever started. But back then it was mostly an unsubstantiated hot take. Now, it’s pretty plausible.
- Fournette effectively just missed a whole season due to an injury that could nag him for a while.
- Elliott is a better pass catcher and a better blocker than Fournette.
- Against the best defense he ever faced (Alabama), Fournette was useless. In two College Football Playoff games against Oregon and, yes, Alabama, Elliott rushed for 246 and 230 yards with 6 total touchdowns.
- Elliott ran the ball 24 fewer times than Fournette in three more career college games.
Elliott is healthier, better, fresher and more experienced than Fournette. I want nothing more than for Leonard to prove me wrong. But, right now, I’m pretty skeptical.
This weekend’s NFLSU slate
Twelve former LSU football players will go at it in NFL playoff action this weekend. Here’s a list of who and when you should be watching:
- Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT on FOX, the Seattle Seahawks take on the Atlanta Falcons. In that game, you can find running back Terrence Magee on the Seahawks and linebacker Deion Jones, cornerback Jalen Collins and defensive lineman Tyson Jackson on the Falcons. All three Falcons players are starters, while Magee is a reserve on Seattle.
- At 7:15 p.m. CT on CBS Saturday, the New England Patriots host the Houston Texans. Running backs Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard play for the Texans, though Hilliard is on the practice squad, and defensive lineman Barkevious Mingo is a backup with the Patriots.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers visit Arrowhead Stadium to play the Kansas City Chiefs at noon Sunday. Chiefs running back Spencer Ware, Steelers quarterback Zach Mettenberger and Steelers lineman Jerald Hawkins make up the LSU contingent in this game.
- In Sunday’s afternoon action, the Dallas Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers. Cornerback Morris Claiborne is expected to start for the Cowboys and offensive lineman La’el Collins is on injured reserve. There are no former LSU players on the Packers.
Speaking of former LSU football players …
What’s the deal with these Jordan Jefferson rumors?
On Thursday afternoon, Football Scoop reported the former LSU quarterback is set to join Major Applewhite’s Houston staff as a graduate assistant.
But a couple hours later, Houston denied the report, saying Applewhite had made no such hire.
This is such a bizarre rumor to make up. Jefferson has no immediate connection to the Houston area or Applewhite, so the connection is thin to say the least.
I’m curious as to how this rumor sprung up. Jefferson seemed to be involved somehow. He tweeted about the situation, but later deleted his tweet. But Applewhite didn’t just refuse the claim. He “adamantly denied” it, according to a NOLA.com report.
Of all the former SEC quarterbacks in all the world, why Jefferson? It’s very confusing. And I hope this isn’t the end of this story. I want to write about this meaningless misunderstanding for the rest of my life.
Your weekly non-revenue LSU sports update
There are sports other than football. Here’s how they’re going:
- The LSU women’s basketball team is continuing its steady return to prominence with success, success and more success. The Tigers defeated Missouri, 80-71, Thursday night to move to 3-1 in SEC play, matching their SEC win total from all of last season. The squad faces its toughest task of the conference season Sunday, however, as it hosts No. 3 South Carolina.
- The No. 1-ranked LSU gymnastics team takes on No. 4 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday night. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
- Speaking of games against Alabama, the LSU men’s basketball team hosts Alabama at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday at 2:30 CT. Both teams enter the game with 9-6 records.
- The track and field teams head to Nashville for the Commodore Invitational, beginning Friday and continuing through Saturday.
LSU in the NBA
Every Friday in the Bayou Bengal Briefing, I devote a section to how former LSU basketball players are doing in the NBA. Today, I’m going to shake up things a bit. Instead of listing full-season averages, stats will be based on minutes played in a team’s last 10 games.
|Brandon Bass (LAC)||9||15.2||8.6||3.0||0.6|
|Justin Hamilton (BKN)||10||19.0||7.0||5.3||0.6|
|Jarell Martin (MEM)||8||9.6||1.6||3.0||0.0|
|Marcus Thornton (WAS)||6||16.0||5.0||2.2||1.3|
|Garrett Temple (SAC)||10||30.6||9.5||3.1||2.2|
|Jordan Mickey (BOS)||1||14.0||4.0||2.0||1.0|
|Tim Quarterman (POR)||2||2.5||0.0||0.5||1.5|
Today in (spooky) made-up holidays
If you’re feeling particularly unlucky today, LSU football fans, it’s probably because today is Friday the 13th. And if you don’t quite know how to deal with that, the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com have just the fix for you.
Being that today is the first Friday the 13th of the year, today is “National Blame Someone Else Day.” It’s a day where you’re expected to pass the buck. How great is that?
So, let’s say, for example, you’re reading this far into the Bayou Bengal Briefing instead of doing your job. That’s not your fault today. It’s mine for writing this thing so darn long. And it’s Orgeron’s for being so darn interesting. And it’s your boss’ for making you work on Friday the 13th.
Now, you try. Make sure to blame everyone else for your problems. Even the LSU football team.
Are you stuck in traffic? Blame the offensive line! It’s always those guys’ fault when lanes aren’t open.
Did you spill coffee on yourself? Blame Malachi Dupre. He knows better than anyone why people drop things.
Are your kids not listening to you? Blame Dave Aranda. Ever since he got down to Louisiana, everybody’s gotten so defensive.
Are the puns annoying you? Blame me. I’m the one writing them.
You get the point. Now, go blame everybody else. Today, none of your problems are your fault. Enjoy it while it lasts.