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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is sacked by Auburn linebacker K.J. Britt (33) during the first half of LSU's football game against Auburn at Tiger Stadium Saturday Oct. 26, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

Joe Burreaux isn't a real person. 

Joe Burrow is from Ohio. Joe Burrow stayed home to play his first few college seasons in Columbus with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

But any former allegiances for the senior quarterback have been left a distant memory as he meshes with his adoptive home of LSU and Baton Rouge about as effortlessly as Ed Orgeron and a steaming pot of gumbo.

“I think the universal language is toughness and hard work," Burrow said in an ESPN interview shared Wednesday when asked about his impact in such a short time after his transfer before the 2018 season.

"People respect people that work very, very hard. And that’s something that is true all over the world. If you’re a hard worker, people are going to respect you and that’s all I try to bring to the table.”

And nowhere was that toughness displayed more evidently than during LSU's smashmouth win over Auburn at Tiger Stadium. 

On the first play of the second quarter, Burrow scrambled for a first down and was headed out of bounds when one Auburn defender wrapped up his legs and another laid a vicious hit as they tumbled out of bounds. If Burrow was hurting, he showed no signs of it, immediately hopping up and heading back to the huddle before leading the Tigers on their first scoring drive of what would be a 23-20 victory. The win also propelled LSU to its first No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll since 2011.

"Well you know, Joe's a competitor," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said this week. "He's one of the toughest players I've seen."

Orgeron was speaking in reference to his quarterback's decision to play through the pain of a separated throwing shoulder during his team's matchup with Alabama a year ago. The revelation was first reported this week in a report from Sports Illustrated

“I think it’s important that your team does see the quarterback show some toughness just about every game," Burrow said. "That’s how I won the team over last year. Showing my hard work, showing my toughness and my leadership because I wasn’t producing on the field like I was this year. And I think when your team sees that, it kind of brings the whole team to a new level”

Alongside that toughness, Burrow's displayed a world-class sense of humor. Like when he laughed off a nationally televised pantsing a week earlier against Mississippi State, or with his pageant-ready wave to Texas fans during LSU's first big win of the season. 

But as important as anything, Heisman-caliber quarterback play and an 8-0 record has endeared him to the LSU faithful. Burrow ranks No. 2 in all of college football with 2,805 passing yards and 30 touchdowns through his first eight games. It took him just seven games to break the program's season-long touchdown mark that was set at 26 by ex-LSU passers Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell.

Burrow also set a new mark for single-game passing touchdown with his six scoring throws against Vanderbilt. That total broke the previous record set by Zach Mettenberger in the 2013 season, one that Burrow has also tied in two other games this season.

Burrow's meteoric rise, which includes a peaking national profile and NFL draft stock, has propelled LSU into a matchup with No. 2-ranked Alabama this weekend with title implications not seen since the "Game of the Century" matchup in 2011. 

But none of this has been a surprise, at least not for Burrow himself. 

"I always knew this season would be come just because I knew the work that I put in. And if this season didn’t come, it’d mean all that work is for naught. And I’m a believer that good things happen to good people who work hard, and I know I’m a good person that works hard. So I fully expected this season to be a special one.”

Joe Burreaux, indeed.

MORE FROM BURROW'S INTERVIEW WITH ESPN'S MARTY SMITH

ON HAVING FAMILY ON-HAND FOR GAMES

“It’s been special for me, having my dad around after the games and on Sundays, just being around our family. My mom was here with my brother s most games last year and I know my dad missed out on it. He was unable to watch two games last year and they were the Auburn game and the Georgia game – so two of our biggest wins. He couldn’t watch it on TV because he was playing. I know that factored into his decision [to retire from coaching]. It’s been special having him around, not only for me but for my family as well.

“He doesn’t say a lot. I think he’s just soaking it in – enjoying it.”

How about Burrow's brothers: “They’re loving it. They’re loving the tailgating down here in Baton Rouge. They’re just soaking it all in, too.”

ON HIS THOUGHTS OF A HEISMAN TROPHY

"I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you I thought about it. It was mainly offseason thoughts, knowing the work I put in knowing it could be a possibility with the team we had. But as soon as the season started I kind of put it behind me and just focused on winning games. That’s all you can do. And if you win games the rest is going to come with it."

HOURS PER WEEK THINKING ABOUT FOOTBALL? 

“During the season 24 hours. You’ve got to be if you want to be the best. You can’t take any hours off during the season if you want to get where this team wants to get to.”

For the full interview, click here. 


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Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak