Scooter Hobbs column: Kelly talks to keep LSU hot in chilly Ark.
Published 12:00 pm Friday, November 11, 2022
The gleeful fan mob rollicking around on Tiger Stadium’s turf Saturday night had not yet even completed its retreat to saner quarters when the alarms starting going off.
Danger, Will Robinson!
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Trap Game! Trap Game!
It’s the inevitable Debbie Downer, right on schedule — anything to rain on the parade.
Now, the strict definition of a “trap game” is a post-big-upset schedule stop that is begging for attention while falling between two emotional games. Which would mean somebody thinks LSU might be looking past Arkansas Saturday and ahead to next week’s game with UAB.
LSU, of course, has far more experience dealing with another syndrome, a more common one known as Don’t Let Bama Beat You Twice. That one also involves a lingering hangover from the previous week and, in practice, might be more applicable for the Tigers’ visit to Arkansas.
But, just to play along, we’ll go ahead and certify Arkansas as a trap game for LSU anyway.
The Vegas boys must think so. Otherwise, you’d think a team that just beat Alabama would be more than a three-point favorite against a team that recently lost to Liberty.
So head head coach Brian Kelly was quick to slap a 24- hour celebration rule on his troops. That’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction right out of the coaching manual, but hardly a cure-all.
Human nature can trump a lot of best intentions.
Meanwhile, the classic warning clouds are gathering apace, perhaps set to convene in Fayetteville come Saturday morning.
Yes, I said morning. It’s a dad-blamed 11 a.m. kickoff, which never sits right with LSU fans, or a Tigers team team that has often been slow to get started under ideal conditions.
Arkansas also has that loss to Liberty last week (never mind the Flames were ranked at No. 23), perhaps another ploy to throw the Tigers off the adrenalin scent.
Plus, it’s going to be chilly, probably in the low 30s, high 20s for the game, which is downright frigid for LSU.
Mainly, though, it’s all about putting Alabama in the rearview mirror.
Kelly knows all that.
So he tried to sneak “The Boot” into his Monday checklist of the week’s game incentives.
“Another rivalry trophy,” Kelly said. “They hold the trophy from last year’s 16- 13 (overtime) win in Tiger Stadium.”
I believe he said his Tigers want it back badly.
You’ll have to forgive him. He’s still new around campus and needs to read up on his LSU lore.
If you just read the official literature, it will tell you that the Golden Boot is coveted hardware for both sides.
Read between the lines and he’d learn that LSU has always viewed it as something pretty silly that only Arkansas could dream up. It’s better to take it than to give it, and if LSU wins some
Tigers will be appointed to lug it off, but it’s a load and a half to lift either way.
But nice try, coach.
I’d go with more straightforward incentives.
Mainly, the Tigers have no excuses.
Early start? That should apply only to home games.
Cold? Maybe. My personal experience is that Fayetteville can be the frozenest, dampest, straight-to-the-bone coldest place on Earth (at least it was on Nov. 27, 1992).
But Kelly could relate to this. LSU has played at his old stomping grounds at Notre Dame four times. Three times the weather was glorious and LSU lost all three.
The lone LSU victory up there (1985) came between tall snow banks, a couple of feet of which had to be plowed off the field.
So it shouldn’t matter.
Still, Kelly is probably on the right track — and it has nothing to do with any fire-and-brimstone pregame yelping or pregame helmet-slapping.
No gimmicks. Just part of the process, that eternal quest for consistency.
“Nothing changed last week in the way we prepared,” Kelly insisted. “Nothing will change this week.
“If we had had a lot of fanfare sloganisms and changed things for Alabama, then maybe I’d be worried a little. But we didn’t do anything different than we did for Ole Miss.”
Maybe he’s on to something there.
But the Tigers might want to bundle up anyway.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com