Perhaps it’s just as well that LSU is getting away from Louisiana for today’s Southeastern Conference game at Kentucky.
The struggling Tigers (3-2, 1-1 SEC) aren’t getting much encouragement from back home, where their running game is stagnant, the fan base is grumbling and head coach Ed Orgeron is taking the blame while planted squarely on the dreaded hot seat.
Not much has gone right for the Tigers, who opened the season with a lackluster loss at UCLA and followed up an SEC-opening win over Mississippi State with a second-half swoon that doomed them in a home loss to Auburn last week.
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“Obviously there’s been some stuff this season that’s been frustrating,” said LSU center Liam Shanahan, a leader of an offensive line that has been the focus of the Tigers’ woes. “This is isn’t where we would’ve liked to be at this point. But we’ve still got a lot of games coming.
“I don’t really try to read anything that people are saying. The only people that can control our fate is ourselves. The only people that can impact the games are in this building. … I think everybody feels that way.”
So maybe it’s the “Animal House” solution to frustrating news — Road trip!
“I’m going to take full responsibility for everything that happens in this program,” Orgeron said this week amidst mounting criticism. “And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
It will be the Tigers’ first meeting with the Wildcats since a 41-3 LSU victory in 2014 and the first trip to Lexington since 2007.
The latter was a No. 1-ranked LSU team that lost in double overtime to the Wildcats, but recovered to win the national championship.
This trip to the bluegrass, the Tigers need a jump-start against an undefeated No. 16 UK team (5-0, 3-0) basking in last week’s first home victory over Florida since 1986.
In contrast to LSU, the Wildcats have found ways to win — the last four victories have been by a touchdown or less — in spite of a stat sheet that screams mediocrity, beginning with a minus-9 turnover ratio.
But the Cats are unbeaten and expecting a full house at Kroger Field to see if they can get to 6-0 for the first time since 1950, when a young Bear Bryant was the coach.
Orgeron said LSU will worry about getting LSU better.
“There are some things that are very fixable,” Orgeron said. “We just need to settle down.”
The to-do list starts with a non-existent running game that ranks 128th in the nation at 71 yards per game — 57 per game against the four Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
“It’s not that the guys are not working or trying,” Orgeron said. “But they might be trying a little too hard. We need to simplify what we are doing on offense and let our players play.”
It may be now or never as Kentucky is the second of six consecutive ranked opponents on the Tigers’ schedule.
“A lot of good teams,” Shanahan said. “But we believe we can beat anybody that we play.”