A dry erase board standing in a corner of the LSU locker room offered an insight into Saturday’s points of emphasis against Kentucky.
“Bring your A-GAME!”
Zero out of three isn’t bad. Not when you’re as talented as No. 1-ranked LSU is.
The Tigers didn’t really do any of those things, yet still pounded Kentucky into submission in a lopsided 35-7 victory that wasn’t even as close as that.
There was simply no way around it — not for the Tigers, not for their fans, not, I have to admit, for the media types covering the game.
An 11:21 a.m. kickoff and a tweener game against an opponent that even the kids selling programs outside the stadium knew was outclassed in virtually every respect — the Kentucky punter was top notch, sorry Brad Wing — made for a game that was more to be endured than enjoyed. Even if the weather was about as glorious as you can expect to find in South Louisiana on the opening day of October.
“Yeah, when you’re waking up at 6 a.m. and talking football it’s hard to focus,” said wide receiver Russell Shepard, who made a pair of tough catches and a nifty 13-yard end-around run. “But the team did a great job.”
Shepard is such a positive kid I dare say he could put a smile on the European monetary crisis and convince Al Gore global warming is good for the plants. He chose to view Saturday’s game as another brick in the wall of immunity this Tigers team is building against virtually every type of distraction and negative situation.
“In a sense this can help make us a great team,” Shepard said. “I mean, we have the distractions we’ve had off the field, played on the road, and now we’ve played in the day.”
Add to the list of distractions the return of quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
Allowed back on the team Wednesday after a grand jury declined to bring felony charges against him for the infamous Aug. 19 bar fight, you just had a feeling at some point that LSU coach Les Miles was going to get Jefferson into the game. Whatever point that was would be like the moment the doctor sticks in the needle for an injection — a dreaded sting, then relief.
When Jefferson went in on fourth-and-goal on the Tigers’ second possession, there were boos. Boos that Jefferson had to hear and that angered his teammates and puzzled their coach.
But Jefferson scored, and the next time he returned in the second half the reception was much less negative.
Momentary pain endured. Now Miles can go about the business of incorporating Jefferson’s mobility into the LSU game plan for Florida (Miles to Will Muschamp: “Lose sleep over that one, sir!”).
Certainly the Tigers will have to raise their level of play against the Gators.
Certainly the Tigers already know that.
Start fast … finish … bring your A-game.
Maybe the Tigers were getting an early start on next week.