All summer long, anxious fans circled this week on the calendar as the return of college football. Sure, there would be no games, but at least there would be practices and actual football news. When you’re crawling through the desert, you don’t complain about the quality of the water in the canteen.
One week into fall practice, I think I speak for all LSU fans when I wonder if we can go back to the desert. Because this sucks.
LSU has had simply disastrous offseasons the past two years, and the relative quiet this year was a welcome change. We didn’t really want good news, just the absence of bad news. For seven months, LSU came through with no news fit to print.
In one week, it all went up in smoke.
Now, the losses and setbacks this week aren’t crippling. It’s not like last year, during which LSU lost essentially an entire platoon of offensive linemen, but it is still the return of the black cloud which has dogged recent LSU offseasons. LSU needed some positive momentum to go into the year, and just when the bandwagon started rolling down the hill, it hit a rock, splaying the inhabitants in every direction.
The thing is, none of the news was all that terrible on its own, it is simply the sheer quantity of bad news. It is like having someone keep placing rocks on your chest. No one rock is that large of a problem, but stack up enough of them, you stop breathing.
The bad news started with the loss of Jamal Pettigrew. He blew out his knee during a non-contact workout in the summer, and now the injury requires season-ending surgery. He’s the backup tight end behind Foster Moreau, so it’s not a crippling blow.
But it threw the depth chart into a bit of a tizzy. The only players behind Pettigrew are transfers, freshmen, and little used depth players. Which leads to the eventual decision to have players move positions.
Ed Orgeron says team could end up moving some of the “bigger” wide receivers to tight end.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) August 9, 2018
Still, no big deal. It’s just the backup tight end. So then came the announcement of Ed Ingram’s indefinite suspension. Ingram started at guard last season, but there was talk that JUCO transfer Damien Lewis could push him for the job. Well, Lewis won the job now.
Again, not a critical loss, but it’s another blow to depth, and one that again had ripples throughout the roster. The biggest effect is that there’s no longer an extra guard capable of starting on the roster right now, effectively ending the battle for the center job between Brumfield and Cushenberry. Brumfield’s services are now required at guard.
The news hadn’t been great early in camp, but the early blows was just the football gods working the body before going for the knockout blow. On Wednesday, news leaked that LSU suspended Tyler Taylor for his May 31st arrest due to his involvement in an armed robbery back in Georgia on January 8th.
I don’t even know what to say here, but Taylor’s problems now go well beyond football. If convicted, this will be a millstone that hangs around his neck for the rest of his life. Forget football, he will find a felony conviction impacts his ability to get employment, find housing, and simply do the day to day tasks of living.
It’s simply tragic. He’s the author of his misery here, as he had a catastrophic lapse in judgment. But I can’t even approach this from LSU’s point of view. Sure, they lost a linebacker. The team has a lot of options there, so that’s not the issue. The issue is that a young kid’s life is effectively ruined for one stupid mistake. He is on the hook for multiple felonies. A week ago, he was a hero, a talented kid with a bright future ahead of him. This week, he’s nothing but a thug.
While many fans will likely turn their backs on Taylor for his mistake, most LSU fans have rallied in support of Kristian Fulton for his mistake. Admittedly, Fulton’s lapse in judgment was nowhere near as severe, and he violated an NCAA rule, not the penal code.
But after an offseason of good vibes and hope on the Fulton front, the NCAA predictably acted like the NCAA and denied Fulton’s appeal. Fulton will now serve the second year of a two year suspension for trying to hide the fact he was smoking pot. It’s a ludicrous decision which is also utterly unsurprising given the NCAA’s history.
Thank God we have the NCAA on that wall to protect us from college kids smoking pot. I sleep easier at night knowing they are nipping that scourge in the bud.
Again, for LSU, this decision on its own is not disastrous. LSU didn’t have Fulton last year and didn’t really expect to have him this year. LSU will have an elite secondary without Fulton, though it might have been the best in the nation with him playing opposite Greedy. I guess we’ll have to settle for a secondary that is incredibly good instead of mind-blowingly great.
On top of everything, twelve players missed practice yesterday, ten due to injury. TEN! Jesus, it’s just day five of practice. Now, most of these injuries aren’t that severe, though Micah Baskerville is recovering from surgery. But you’d like for the team to not be missing double digit players before you hit week two of the practice schedule.
What’s the final damage to the roster? LSU arguably only lost one starter this week, and his job was precarious. The three players lost for the season hurt depth more than anything, and Fulton was never on the depth chart, he’s the absence of an addition, not a subtraction.
Still, this is death by a thousand paper cuts. This was a team that was trying to turn the page from the negativity of the last few seasons, and they needed a good week of practice as a foundation to build upon. Instead, we’re back to square one. Hell, square one would be better, as that’s a blank slate.
None of these rocks on their own hurt, but it’s getting awfully difficult to breathe.