LSU has more than a few mistakes to clean up

Published 3:19 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2021

LSU was predictably out of the Top 25 rankings this week but somehow still hanging out in the nether regions of those “also receiving votes.” Add them up and it comes out to No. 29 in The Associated Press poll.

Meanwhile, the UCLA campus can expect a snackable, junk-food windfall after its football team was named the Cheez-It Bowl national team of the week.

Please, hold your applause until all of the Bruins’ post-LSU accolades have been announced.

UCLA, previously unranked, also took LSU’s former No. 16 spot in the AP poll.

Meaning what?

Meaning that at least some in the country did not — or cannot — believe that LSU is as awful as the Tigers looked in their Rose Bowl debut Saturday.

Just a guess, but few of those optimistic souls were from Louisiana or alums of Louisiana State University.

In these parts, first there was another hurricane that stirred up much of the state. Now the sky is falling … mostly on top of LSU’s football aspirations.

If that’s not bad enough, lovable head coach Ed Orgeron is suddenly not only creeping toward the dreaded “hot seat,” but he’s also the butt of the Social Media Machine’s latest offensive.

It was the usual sad tale.

As you probably know, he was caught on videotape walking into the Rose Bowl before Saturday’s debacle when he got into a harmless exchange with a UCLA fan David Witzling, who apparently directed his prediction of a Bruins victory at the LSU coach.

“Hey, bring your (butt) on, in your sissy, blue shirt,” Orgeron retorted.

Probably not the best choice of words for the situation, but Coach O had a smile that suggested it wasn’t just a hot-headed Cajun outburst straight from the pool hall.

Never mind that Orgeron was frequently spotted in a similar shade of blue last spring while attending all of McNeese’s games to watch his son Cody play quarterback, as he will Saturday from the opposite sideline.

UCLA fans are having a ball making sport of him. The “incident” has even spawned a California cottage industry selling “Sissy Blue” T-shirts at premium prices.

“Yeah, I was kidding,” Orgeron clarified on the Zoom machine Tuesday for anybody stupid enough not to realize it. “That was all in fun.”

But, 38-27 karma or not, you are what you taunt.

Still, I doubt it had any effect on the regrettable outcome.

And give Orgeron credit for not using the distractions from Hurricane Ida as an excuse.

He blamed himself, the other coaches.

“Most of the mistakes can be fixed by coaching,” he said, all of which he added are “easily correctable.”

It’s an easy trap for a coach to fall into after watching a football horror film — simply clean up the mistakes.

But Coach O may need a bigger pirogue here.

Sure, LSU can get better. No doubt will at some point.

Yet that performance did not look like a quick fixer-upper project.

But, for the most part, those were the same familiar problems that haunted the Tigers a year ago.

If a full spring and August worth of work couldn’t fix them, what’s one more week going to do?

And assuming that Orgeron is right and all of Saturday’s woes are quickly rectified, football decrees that other “mistakes” will just crop up and replace them.

That mistake-free game coaches dream of is never going to happen. The really good teams don’t eliminate mistakes a much as they brush them aside and overcome them.

This reclamation project might not need a full-scale culture change, but an attitude adjustment could be in order.

Orgeron also said the effort, desire and want to win was there and that the team leadership was fantastic.

It must have been more evident from the sideline than the upper reaches of the Rose Bowl.

I’m sure they did want to win.

But wanting (hoping?) to win and being confident in winning are two different things.

UCLA looked the part, and the Bruins looked a lot more excited about playing the game.

A similar attitude might be a good start for the Tigers.

But take a shot at cleaning up those pesky mistakes anyway.

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