Hey, you over there.
I want to tell you something, but not too loud.
For this we need to go into Dr. Seuss’ special “Lorax” mode on a special dank midnight in August, which, fortunately, we have in abundance in these parts.
So grab the end of that Whisper-ma-Phone, for the secrets I tell are for your ears alone.
It’s been a quiet August for LSU this season.
Real quiet. Almost eerily quiet.
Yes, there has been a bumper crop of “camp injuries.” And starting quarterback Joe Burrow being held out of the first preseason scrimmage had local cardiologists’ phones ringing off le hook.
It took more than 20 minutes for Joe Burrow's name to come up in LSU's first news conference of the 2019 regular season.
But Tiger Jeaux has been back every day since, slinging the rock. Freshman offensive lineman Kardell Thomas from Southern Lab apparently has been the only long-term injury. Unfortunately, injuries are a mathematical certainty of football. It’s the oh-so-avoidable self-inflicted wounds that typically have haunted LSU preseasons past.
Sometimes those incidents don’t lead to long-term damage. The infamous Bogie’s brawl of 2011 didn’t keep that LSU team from reaching the BCS National Championship Game … or prevent them from crossing the 50 that night against Alabama. And last year’s string of three preseason arrests, while certainly troubling, didn’t keep the Tigers from a trip to their first New Year’s Six bowl of the College Football Playoff era or keep them from finishing with their first top-10 ranking since said 2011 season.
But these distractions aren’t what you want in the slightest if you’re a coach, a fan or the players who are keeping their noses clean.
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LSU coach Ed Orgeron, naturally, was rightly pleased by the absence of issues he would be having to take time to address, though he stressed there is always room for improvement.
“I do believe the (team) culture has changed,” Orgeron said Monday at the season’s first weekly news conference. “It's not all the way where we want it. In recruiting, we recruit character. We tell our team that character counts. Do the right thing, protect the team.
“So far it's been really good.”
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will meet with the media for his weekly Monday news conference at 12:30 p.m.
So far. In coaching, and in the media, you’re always waiting for the next shoe to drop. And, believe it or not, we media folks don’t look forward to these controversies and off-the-field flareups. We already have plenty enough to do.
LSU has, by the way, divested itself of two of those three arrested players from 2018: former wide receiver Drake Davis and ex-linebacker Tyler Taylor. LSU continues to harbor hope that guard Ed Ingram could return to action. He is around the team, has a seat in LSU’s tricked-out new locker room and a bio in the team media guide. Ingram’s trial on his aggravated sexual assault charge is expected to begin Sept. 13 in Dallas County, Texas, with him subpoenaed to appear in court three days later.
It’s a serious allegation, but fortunately for LSU nothing like that has appeared as a new cloud on the Tigers’ horizon this summer. The biggest controversy, if you want to call it that, was in the fine print of an LSU contest for Saturday’s game that initially excluded “females” from winning sideline passes. LSU officials have called it a mistake and had the exclusionary language rubbed out.
LSU football has released its first depth chart for the 2019 season.
But that really has been about it. And a dearth of distractions is good news for a team trying to get mileage out of a new offense and fill in the gaps in a defense led by departed All-Americans Devin White at linebacker and Greedy Williams at cornerback.
“It speaks to the character and discipline of this team,” said Burrow, the businesslike leader of this team. “Usually teams like that go on to have a good year. Usually teams that don’t have a lot of disciplinary problems and arrests win the game.”
Again, teams can overcome those off-the-field issues and succeed, but they don't help. And they don't have to happen.
A team of over 100 players keeping out of trouble? It’s difficult, but as Dr. Seuss wrote, it should be, it should be, it should be like that.
The preseason has ended. Focus has turned, fully, to the first game. LSU began preparation for Georgia Southern on Monday, and the Tigers practiced indoors without helmets or pads, a light day before the rest of the week.
Thoughts and prayers: Condolences go out to former LSU All-American gymnast Sarah Finnegan and her family. Her father, Don, died Saturday from pancreatic cancer.
In nearly 30 years of covering LSU athletics, the Finnegans have been just about the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Don, himself an All-American wrestler at Iowa State, wife, Linabelle, and their four daughters (including youngest Aleah, set to compete for the Tigers in 2021) faced his health crisis with courage and faith. Our hearts are with them at this sad time.