Devin White said he blocked out “the noise.”
That’s a word football players and coaches often use to describe fan reaction and media scrutiny that follows stunning losses, like the one LSU suffered last week against Troy.
White ignored the noise so much that he quoted a television analyst during his interview with reporters after the Tigers followed that loss to the Trojans with a 17-16 win at No. 21 Florida on Saturday.
“You’ve got to block it out. For me, it goes in one ear and out the other,” White said before adding, “I saw Tim Tebow said that Troy linebackers were better than ours. I took offense to it.”
Good thing he blocked all that out.
For LSU, it’s a great thing that he didn’t.
The Tigers (4-2, 1-1 Southeastern) used a week of noise to motivate themselves against the Gators (3-2, 3-1), bringing what seemed to be a disconnected group — the staff and players — back together.
A slew of players-only and coaches meetings last Monday appear to have spurred the cohesion and resulted in practice alterations last week. LSU enters this week’s 2:30 p.m. kickoff against No. 10 Auburn (5-1, 3-0) closer as a team and a staff, coach Ed Orgeron said, and some players pointed to the needed “wake-up call” with that loss to Troy.
“This team made a decision on Monday that they were going to win this football game,” Orgeron said. “It shows the kind of football team we can be.
Said center Will Clapp: “Our will won that game for us.”
There’s more to it than emotion, of course.
The offense, despite a sluggish fourth quarter, operated more like the one coordinator Matt Canada used at Pittsburgh, thriving off the jet sweeps and, even, designed quarterback runs. Canada treated his receivers (105 yards) like running backs and his running backs (52 receiving yards rushing) like receivers — a staple during his time at Pitt and NC State.
Quarterback Danny Etling averaged 4 yards a carry on nin carries, about five of those designed runs, and the unit, despite scoring just 17 points, controlled the ball (34 minutes of possession to Florida’s 26).
Orgeron admitted last week that he inserted himself into the offense ahead of the game against Troy, removing a key piece in Canada’s scheme — those presnap motions and shifts. They returned — at full go — Saturday in the Swamp.
“That’s the offense we’ve been looking for,” Etling said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — All of those meetings last week did get LSU on the same page after all.
Tight end Foster Moreau said the unit is “a step closer” to uncovering its identity, and Etling said the group finally resembled the one that rolled over the defense through spring practice and preseason camp — a high-flying spread attack that uses perimeter runs to set up those inside.
The jet sweeps, often set up by presnap movements, are key pieces to Canada’s system.
“It’s what we’ve been trying to do, get our jets going,” Moreau said. “If we get those jets going, those outside ends have to rush up the field. That brings different opportunities — brings power (runs) right behind it, counter (runs) right behind it.”
The Xs and Os aside, this squad returned to what Orgeron called “Tiger football.”
“We were physical at the point of attack,” he said.
The meetings and scrutiny last week triggered changes to LSU’s practice, something Orgeron hinted to during his radio show Wednesday. The coach added more physicality to a practice schedule he lightened up when replacing Les Miles last season.
Reporters at practice last week witnessed some of the tweaks, specifically a focus on tackling.
“People said we weren’t physical,” White said. “Coach wanted to get us back physically since we weren’t physical. We did a lot of things at practice to get us in that mode of coming down and striking.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — LSU’s thin offensive line became even thinner during Saturday’s key Sout…
In a story published by Sports Illustrated, anonymous college coaches criticized LSU’s physicality. One of them referred to the Tigers as “soft.”
“I take it personal,” White said. “At the end of the day, I know I’m not soft. I know my team is not soft, but we were playing soft and we had to fix it. I’m glad people called us out on it. We had to respond.”
And those meetings? Well, they worked, too, rallying a squad that began to split apart, especially offensively. Orgeron met with 12 team leaders Monday, each expressing the problems within the program.
“We put everything out on the table, what’s going on and what people did and didn’t like. We all gave our opinions,” Clapp said. “Most coaches aren’t willing to accept what a 20-year-old kid has to say about his program. We laid out what we thought was going on. He listened and took our advice.”
LSU players took the noise and made their own.
Said Moreau: “We poured our hearts out and leadership stepped up.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Danny Etling rolled to his right, looking for a receiver, looking for th…