As the sun set on September, LSU’s season looked on life support for the second straight opening stanza. Unlike last year’s narrow heartbreakers that led to Les Miles’ firing, this particular brand was embarrassing. LSU barely loses to State. They definitely don’t lose to them by 30. And LSU barely loses non-conference games. They definitely don’t lose them to non-P5 teams at home. Things looked dire.
Perhaps worse than the losses, this team didn’t at all seem to reflect the energy and passion we’d come to expect from an Orgeron-led squad. Post the Troy loss I wrote:
...none of this really makes much sense. If you laid out 100 scenarios for this team failing, and asked me to rank them all, I’d rank this one near the bottom.
LSU looked flat. Disinterested. They played like other teams owed it to them to lose, and not at all like a team interested in taking victory.
Then a funny thing happened. They grew a spine. They went on the road in a hostile environment and got into one of those exhausting boxing matches where the fighters constantly stay on the ropes and exchange body blows. Neither could muster a knockout shot, but each endured a barrage of abuse and ultimately LSU landed a few more shots.
Still, it hardly inspired confidence. Yes, LSU won, but Florida is objectively and LSU barely did so. That LSU team, playing like that, had no shot against Auburn. No way, no how.
But something happened. Something changed. Somewhere in that tangle of meetings this team found itself. This coaching staff found itself. They didn’t allow their horrible start determine their unknown future. They turned the page on defeat and started focusing on victory.
And it showed on the field Saturday. After the 1st quarter, it was easy to assume LSU had sunk back into it’s Mississippi State/Troy shell of defeat. Auburn raced to a 20-point lead and every fan said, “How bad will this get?” while everybody on that sideline said, “We got this.”
So they clawed back. Not with a series of embarrassing breakdowns from Auburn. No, they stubbornly chipped away like Andy Dufrense. A chip here. A slab there. And they started to see the light. And they hungered for the light. And they chased the light. And they found the light.
And now we can already hear the chirping. “Yeah, but I need them to prove they can...?” “Yeah, but can they...?” “Well, it was a good win, but...?” But don’t worry. This team isn’t listening. They don’t care what people think. If they did, they would have quit like everyone said they did just three weeks ago. Nope, they are moving ahead. Drowning out the noise. Focusing on the next opponent. Target acquired: Ole Miss.
This team has already turned over their expectations. Why haven’t you with yours?