While LSU was in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night, stuffing the BYU Cougars into a crawfish sack during a 27-0 win, some other names you’ll be familiar with when it comes to LSU football weren’t faring quite so well:
- Former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, whose contentious and persistent legal fight with LSU over his departure for Texas A&M is now 2½ years old, now has an infamous line to add to his long and distinguished résumé: I was defensive coordinator for a team that blew a 34-point lead with 19:08 remaining. The Aggies somehow squandered a 44-10 lead Sunday and lost 45-44, playing soft defense and paring that with a soft-headed offensive plan after starting quarterback Nick Starkel left with an ankle injury that required surgery.
The coup that A&M looked like it was getting when it lured Chavis away from what he thought was a sinking ship under Les Miles hasn’t materialized. Chavis’ defenses have had their moments, but they’ve also been carved up plenty of times through the air (see UCLA’s Josh Rosen and his fake spike winning touchdown pass) and on the ground (see Derrius Guice’s school record 285 yards rushing last Thanksgiving in College Station).
It looked like a blow for LSU when Chavis left, but two coordinators later, does LSU look better off with Dave Aranda at the controls? Um, yes. It also looks like Baton Rouge native and LSU grad Scott Woodward, A&M’s athletic director, has a nascent migraine building with a tough choice to make about Kevin Sumlin’s future at season’s end. Should he ride with Sumlin another year after already saying three straight 8-5 seasons aren’t good enough, or cough up Sumlin’s buyout, a staggering $11.25 million due within 60 days of his termination? Even in deep-pocketed Aggieland, that’s a hefty bill to pay.
- It looked like a blow of sorts for LSU, at least from a depth standpoint, when Brandon Harris transferred to North Carolina. It definitely looked like a blow recruiting-wise when quarterback Feleipe Franks de-committed from LSU and signed with Florida.
Both quarterbacks started Saturday. Neither finished.
Harris was 7 of 16 for 60 yards with two interceptions before being replaced by Chazz Surratt in a 35-30 home loss to California. Franks completed 9 of 17 passes for 106 yards with two fumbles (losing one) before being pulled in favor of Malik Zaire, the former Notre Dame quarterback who was supposed to be the answer to Florida’s desperate wish for better offense this season.
UNC coach Larry Fedora has yet to commit to Harris as his starter for this Saturday’s game against Lamar Jackson-led Louisville (Jackson had 485 yards total offense last weekend against Purdue). Florida coach Jim McElwain said he will stick with Franks for Saturday’s game with Northern Colorado. Does LSU look better off with Danny Etling at the controls and Myles Brennan waiting in the wings? Um, yes.
- First-year Texas coach Tom Herman was the apple of many an athletic director’s eye during his two mostly impressive seasons at Houston, including LSU’s Joe Alleva. When it became apparent that Herman and his agent, Trace Armstrong, were just using LSU to drive Texas to the bargaining table in November, Alleva quickly decided to hire Ed Orgeron after Coach O wowed LSU’s leadership during his stint as interim coach.
Herman may turn out to be a brilliant hire in the long term at Texas, but his debut was an absolute wreck. The Longhorns were stampeded in Austin 51-41 by Maryland in what some termed a humiliating defeat. Twenty-one of Texas’ points came on interception, blocked field goal and punt returns, which doesn’t make them any less points but doesn’t point to a potent offense.
Talent-wise, Herman wasn’t done nearly as big a favor by his predecessor, Charlie Strong, as Orgeron was by his predecessor, though Miles deserves some criticism for LSU’s lack of depth in the trenches.
“This is a marathon,” Herman said this week, “not a sprint.” Perhaps not, but it helps to not start flat-footed.
Is LSU better off in the long term with Orgeron than Herman? That remains to be seen. But right now, Herman doesn’t look so much the Urban Meyer-like prodigy he was billed to be.