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ATVS Roundtable: Bye Week Part Deux

We take stock of the 2019 Tigers two-thirds of the way through.

Auburn v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Well, LSU is 8-0 through the season’s second act, setting up the climax. But before we get there, how do you feel about this year’s Tiger team two thirds of the way through the schedule?


When we last took a seat at the round table there was concern about our defense’s overall stability and performance. I don’t think those concerns are 100% alleviated, but it’s clearly a unit that’s hitting stride right now. LSU entirely bottled up Auburn’s run game outside of two plays on Saturday. While Florida made some plays, we made them earn their points. With this offense, that’s a combination that can take you places. The closer LSU’s D edges into dominance, the closer LSU comes to being the best team in college football.

Right now LSU’s resume is stacked, their roster is healthy and they head into the open week ready for yet another monumental showdown with Bama. They’ve done everything so well that we nitpick results.

“Oh we only scored 23 points this week.”

“Oh we only beat Florida by 11.”

“Oh it took us 3 quarters to blow out State.”

You know you’re in a good place when that is your position.

Will the results vs. the Tide finally go our way? I don’t know. Bama remains outstanding, even with a hobbled Tua, and they host us. But I do think this will be LSU’s most competitive performance since 2012. This team has the goods to actually push Bama. This won’t be running into a puddle of Crimson down after down and praying something breaks. This won’t be our QB self-immolating at the first miscue.


I feel a lot better now than I did three days ago. The Auburn game, namely the defensive performance, came at exactly the right time. That was the first game since Texas I had trust in the defense and felt like punting wasn’t a game-changing play. Sure the offense couldn’t finish drives, but Auburn’s only touchdowns came when they were gifted a short field and they lucked out on a tip drill and toe tap.

And it came at the perfect time, with the bye week coming right after. The biggest hurdle has yet to come, but even if we lose it’s not the end of the world. If LSU ends the season with one loss and it’s to Bama, fine. Not ideal, but we’ve established enough of a resumé to where we should get in. Let Bama have to play Auburn and Georgia back to back if they beat us.

But they could just simplify everything and run the damn table and get that monkey off their back.


At this point the only thing that concerns me about the defense (besides Delpit’s ankle???) is Chaisson off the edge, really. Tua is the type of quarterback that doesn’t panic throw to his first read so not getting pressure with 4 is going to be a problem. Bo Nix will throw you the ball whether you pressure him or not. Tua is a different animal. Deadly from a clean pocket. Maybe the ankle will cause him to stress a bit more. Next week would also be a good time to get off the field on 3rd down.

Offensively, they’re fine. Another “bad” performance where they put up over 500 yards of offense. I don’t see Bama completely emptying the box like Auburn did (4-1 box basically) so I think there will opportunities for big plays down the field and I trust the offense to take them.


Kind of odd to say that LSU is hitting its stride after what were arguably the three “worst” games of the season. However, with a significant amount of cautious optimism, the Tigers seem to be clicking on all fronts. One of the best parts is the emergence of the run game, particularly last week. CEH and co are not going to carry the offense, but they can clearly make opposing teams pay. Getting Marshall back is understandably huge. Safe to say this is the deepest group of skill players in recent memory?

Defensively, the word that comes to mind is stability. Injuries are healing and it seems more players are having defined roles. Giving up the big plays, particularly when the opposing offense is behind schedule, is frustrating without a doubt but not exclusively a scheme problem. Derek Stingley continues to be an absolute baller and this past stretch has seen several pleasant surprises from the linebackers.

As far as the Bama game goes, I just want see an LSU team that plays to win versus not to lose. Worry about the consequences of a win or loss after the game.


I feel a lot better now that I did after the first bye week, to be honest, even after whatever we just watched against Auburn. The offense showed it can win games in different ways and the defense is really clicking to what we expected them to look like before the season started.

That being said, I’m not ready to be even nearly confident about the Alabama game. Whether Tua plays or not, Bama is Bama and this game just has had a psychological hold on LSU for so long now. While everybody, both fans and national media alike, is all but ready to crown LSU the SEC West champs with Tua’s injury, I can’t bring myself to expect anything. I just want a good game and to not cover a third shutout in four years.

I hate to go into this game thinking about and expecting a loss, but Oklahoma’s own loss to Kansas State still leaves LSU fans hope for a College Football Playoff appearance if the Tigers finish 11-1. The committee is weird sometimes — as shown by Alabama’s inclusion in the 2017 CFP —but LSU’s resume up to this point speaks for itself.


As well as you possibly could feel. This team has played two Top-10 teams and filtering out garbage team won by an average of 12 points in both, as a whole is winning by an average of four TDs per game. They’ve got a top-three offense and top-three special teams unit according to SP+ and are 3rd in the country overall. The defense everyone worried so much about is now up to 20th. So there’s no mirage to the record either the #’s back it up clearly. This is a legitimately dominant 8-0 team.

There’s only one game left on the schedule that defines this team and can cause them real problems. We all know what it is. Are they going to win? Who knows. They’re underdogs and probably should be based on the game being in Tuscaloosa and the rivalry’s history. But they’re going in there with an offense miles ahead of all but two other ones, with the best QB to this point of the season in America. You couldn’t ask for LSU to have done anything more going into this game than what they have done this year.

Now it’s time to see if they can perform an exorcism.


LSU is passing every test. They’re not just beating every team they’ve played, in all eight games they’ve shown they’re vastly superior than the opposition. The Tigers are also showing new ways to win in recent weeks. They don’t necessarily need Joe Burrow to throw for 300 yards and four scores, the offensive line is progressing so much that they’re allowing Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tyrion David-Price to pound teams up the middle. The defense, which was never as bad as everyone made it sound like, is finally rounding into form thanks in large part to health. What a novel concept, a team plays better when its best players actually, you know, play. I truly feel like this offense can score on anybody and the defense can at least slow down anyone they come across. What I’m saying is I haven’t felt this good about an LSU football team since 2011.

As for November 9? I mean I have to see it happen before I can truly believe they’ll beat those guys.


LSU is through the most challenging part of its schedule and looked like a vastly superior team. The only game that was even close was the Auburn game, and that was more a matter of not turning its dominance into points instead of an actual lack of dominance. The offense can score or anyone, and the defense, despite some early season struggles due to injuries, is rounding into form.

This is simply the best an LSU team has been playing at this point in the season in this current era. The only competition for that honor is the 2011 team, which had a budding quarterback controversy, or the 2015 team, which could have used a QB controversy. Right now, LSU is outscoring its opponents by 214 points, and we haven’t even gotten to play Arkansas yet.

Does it mean this LSU team will beat Bama? Who knows? But this team is certainly positioned to do so, and that’s all you can ask for this time of year. This team controls its own destiny, and maybe even have room to lose to Bama and still make the playoffs (thanks, Oklahoma!).


The fact that LSU’s offense looked really “blegh” against Auburn was kind of relieving. I’m a glass half-full guy so when our team can have that many mistakes and bad bounces and STILL beat a top ten team, I’m very encouraged. I also think a physical game where we were punched in the mouth is good preparation for Bama. I think Coach O feels the same way given how he was beaming in his postgame interview while most of us felt sour about that finish.

I’m really not too stressed about Nov. 9 because I’m confident LSU can get in the Playoff even with a loss to Bama. Of course I say that now, but when we reach 2:30 two Saturday’s from now I’ll be a nervous wreck. But I’m definitely not afraid of this game like I have been in year’s past, and I get the feeling the team isn’t either.

However if LSU does beat Alabama, I will inevitably be furious at an Oklahoma team for blowing a road game that allows Alabama to sneak back in the playoff anyway. Time is a flat circle.


For now, I’m not letting Alabama steal my joy from this season.

This offense has been everything we dared to hope for -- running game included! Joe Burrow has actually *been* a real savior quarterback! Joe Brady really is that good of a coach! And in the meantime, Ed Orgeron is turning in the kind of amazing recruiting that we all expected when he was brought in.

This has been a dream season, and I want everyone to remember that. I don’t want that feeling to go away in a couple days. Or based on the playoffs, because that’s something we can’t control. I have no idea what will happen in Tuscaloosa, but LSU is going to beat Ole Miss and Arkansas and they’re going to smear Texas A&M’s blood across the state line as a FUCKING WARNING as to what happens when they pull the kind of shit that happened last year.

What happens after that? We can’t control it. Beat Bama, all that may mean is you have to play Georgia or Florida to get in. Maybe 11-1 is enough to get into the playoffs, maybe it isn’t. I don’t expect the establishment in this sport to do us any favors. They never have before. But either way, this has been a year that shows great progress for this program and shows us that things can keep going in the right direction forward.

I’m going to remember this team and I’m going to remember this year and I’m not going to let anything change that right now.