Hobbs: Mathieu hurt himself more than he hurt LSU's chances

By By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

BATON ROUGE —  It’s pretty simple. Tyrann Mathieu hurt himself a lot more than he hurt LSU’s chances for a dream season.

The Tigers aren’t running out of athletes any time soon.

The lovable little Honey Badger may be running out of chances, though, after Les Miles dismissed him from the team Friday

for a violation of team policy.

Rest assured, he’ll end up somewhere, perhaps a little off Broadway, off the big stage and out of the LSU spotlight.

But somebody will gladly give him another chance.

Meanwhile, there’s no reason LSU can’t still end up wherever it was going to end up this season.

There’s no need to downsize the expectations.

Twitter was all aglow Friday afternoon

with national media that had picked LSU as preseason No. 1 — and saw no

reason to downgrade

the Tigers after the news.

That’s the kind of talent the Tigers have stockpiled.

Lose a Heisman finalist, the charismatic guy smiling from the cover of most of the preseason magazines … no problem.

It’s a distraction, to be sure, but we already know Miles has few peers when it comes to crisis management.

He’ll get through this one.

This is nothing compared to last year’s “Shady’s Bar” mass curfew break that would have easily broken many teams’ asunder.

Instead, it brought the Tigers together for a magical (regular) season.

If you wanted to deep-six all the

excitement and buzz of this LSU preseason, you’d have had to run off

unproven (superstar-to-be)

quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Mettenberger is still a Tiger in good standing.

The Tigers are still promising to air it out often and mostly deep this season.

Their defense will survive, probably even continue to take what it wants without the resident Honey Badger.

This is just another speed bump.

“We lost a quality person,” Miles said. “The good news is we have a lot of good players.”

A lot of good defensive backs, too.

Granted, they don’t have too many quite like the Honey Badger. Nobody does.

But, if this really is the self-proclaimed Defensive Back U., then it’s just time for somebody else to step up, most likely

redshirt freshman Jalen Collins.

Maybe that’s why Miles was raving about his incoming freshmen defensive backs just Tuesday at media day.

It may not be as much fun to watch an LSU defense without the constant threat of Mathieu’s pestering mischief on any play.

But it’s still any offensive coordinator’s nightmare to worry about.

Mathieu, of course, really isn’t a classic cornerback. He kind of invented his own position where LSU had the luxury of lining

him up just about anywhere, pretty secure in the knowledge that some havoc was about to break out.

Just get him near the ball.

He really is a unique player, if not a true lockdown corner. In fact, LSU was still toying with exactly how they were going

to use him now that Morris Claiborne was gone and was time for him to be an honest-to-goodness cornerback.

Most likely, he was still going to be at the nickel back position, or whatever that was that he pretty well defined whenever

the Tigers went with five defensive backs.

They’ll miss him, to be sure.

He had a enormous impact on so many games.

In fact, in studying film for the BCS

championship game, Alabama coach Nick Saban kept noticing that whenever

LSU took over

a game, the Honey Badger was usually in the middle of the

game-changing play. Maybe it was a strip-and-score fumble, maybe

a punt return or … the Honey Badger taking something else that he

wanted.

In the end, Saban basically built a BCS game plan around keeping Mathieu out of Alabama’s hair.

And it worked.

But, the oddity is, if you’re in the LSU camp that believes Alabama is the Tigers’ only real obstacle this season, Mathieu

didn’t play very well in either of those two games last season.

LSU will get by.

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Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com