BATON ROUGE, La. — If there’s anything we’ve learned from the movies, it’s that The Hangover just gets worse every time.
That’s the kind of phenomenon the LSU football team will look to avoid Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., when the Tigers visit the Arkansas Razorbacks.
In 2014, LSU lost to Alabama 20-13. One week later, LSU fell to Arkansas 17-0. In 2015, LSU lost to Alabama 30-16. One week later, LSU fell to Arkansas 31-14. Last Saturday, LSU lost to Alabama 10-0. This Saturday, the Tigers will try to do what the film industry should’ve done and stop the streak of Alabama hangovers at two.
“There’s no question I know we’re going to bounce back,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “I know these guys, I know this team, I’ve been with them, and this is not going to affect us… We’ll continue the same approach and get better. I believe we’re just getting started.”
After all the emotion and effort that went into Saturday’s loss at Tiger Stadium, it’s understandable for some of LSU’s players to be hung up on the outcome. In some ways, that’s a good thing.
Just ask senior defensive end Lewis Neal. Neal spent Monday morning going around to younger players and telling them to “keep their heads up.” That doesn’t mean they should wipe the Alabama game from memory. Rather, it means they should channel the frustration into something more productive.
“If you regret on this game, you’ll play bad next game,” Neal said. “We’ve just got to go into practice with the mindset that we’re going to put this behind us. But we’re not going to forget it because it’s going to be motivation for what’s in front of us.”
What’s in front of the Tigers is an up-and-down Arkansas team that presents a much different challenge than Alabama did. Orgeron praised coach Bret Bielema and his Razorbacks for their tenacity and their pro-style offense and approach. But this also is an Arkansas team that lost to Auburn by 53 points the same night LSU beat Ole Miss.
To borrow Orgeron’s turn of phrase, Mondays are all about telling the truth, and wide receiver D.J. Chark said the truth this week is that the team has to move on and focus on what challenges Arkansas can offer.
As vital as forgetting about the recent past is though, Chark hasn’t forgotten about last year. And he doesn’t seem to think his teammates have either.
“You can’t have a letdown like last year where we came out, lost and then went downhill from there,” Chark said. “I feel like the team knows that.”