LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 01, 2012 12:22 PM
BATON ROUGE — So here we are five games into the season, with LSU dropping another spot to No. 4 in the polls while improving to 5-0.
Actually, maybe “improving” is not the word we’re really looking for — and right now you will just have to take it on faith that the Tigers belong anywhere near that neighborhood.
People, we’re almost at the halfway point — and the fact is that LSU still doesn’t have a solitary clue how good it is.
If at all.
If you want to base everything on Saturday night’s slop-fest against scrappy Towson, you’d want to throw up your hands and avert your eyes from the 38-22 scoreboard.
It was as ugly as the yucky weather.
I suspect that was not the real Tigers yawning and going through motions against Towson.
But, we don’t know that. Again, it’s based on faith (preseason rankings) and a talented roster. Maybe that’s as good as it gets. That could have been the “A” game meandering around down in the muck and the mud Saturday night. There’s nothing, really, to base it on.
But, by now, surely we do know the school should have learned a valuable lesson with this early season.
Yes, it’s possible to under-schedule, and this LSU season may go down as Exhibit A for the perils of biting off something that should only be nibbled on occasionally.
It’s not fair to the fans who pay good money for this charade (and, who, as a soggy, half-full Tiger Stadium pointed out, apparently do have their breaking point.) But, more so, it’s not fair to a football team that surely wants to get better, and isn’t getting any help from repeated trips to the pastry section.
They’re human. Did you really expect them to lift weights all season with the idea of opening against North Texas?
Several players spent most of last week trying to act like they’d ever heard of Towson, and many admitted to having to look up where it was from (just north of Baltimore.)
LSU has played five games that haven’t done a thing to make the Tigers a better football team.
For five weeks, they have been assured that they can name whatever score they want to run up with proper style points.
And yet, they’re expected to put a proper game face on like they’ve still got something to prove from last January’s BCS title game.
Now they do have a major test coming up at The Swamp at Florida this week, and, for all it did to prepare them, they’ve basically wasted five weeks dilly-dallying for the amusement of the armchair quarterbacks.
Granted, it wasn’t all the athletic department’s fault.
When scheduled, you had just as good a chance that Washington, from the Pac-12, could have been a national, must-see game.
It’s also not LSU’s fault that, with Auburn, LSU arrived at the site of a traditional blood-rival to hear that Auburn fans were just hoping they’d take it easy on them.
The North Texas-Idaho-Towson trio was a colossal mistake. Maybe you get away with sprinkling them carefully throughout the schedule — they can come in handy. But front-loading them all in September isn’t doing anybody any good.
Last year, for instance, LSU kind of struggled before getting its act together to beat Western Kentucky 42-9. It raised not a single eyebrow, as the Tigers had knocked off Alabama the previous week and already had wins over Oregon, West Virginia and four other SEC teams.
They already knew how good they could be.
This team has no measuring stick to how good it might actually be when it pays attention — and the season is almost half over!
If you’re looking for positives, there was a bit of trivia that leaked out Sunday. Currently, only one SEC team has a victory over a team currently ranked.
And that would be, for all the whining about its powder puff schedule, your LSU Fighting Tigers with their win over Washington.
I know. Could have knocked me over with a feather, too.
But Washington hasn’t lost another game, and Thursday it upset Stanford.
That’s all fine and good. But, to my eyes, the Washington team that came to Baton Rouge wasn’t a Top 25 team.
I happened to watch them beat Stanford, and all it did was make me wonder how in the world Stanford ever beat Southern Cal.
By the same token Auburn (which was idle this week, preventing any further tests from being run) looked like a different team than had been advertised when LSU showed up to play there.
There was something to be said for the way LSU gutted out a victory on the road without (we assume) its best game.
That’s LSU’s hope at least.
But don’t fret.
After next week at Florida ... you’ll know.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU sports. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org