Scooter Hobbs: Grambling could cure grumbling

Published 11:00 am Friday, September 8, 2023

Maybe we should tap the brakes on writing off LSU for just a hot minute. Perhaps wait and see how the Tigers fare this week against Grambling before passing judgment on their season-long prospects.

Never mind that old wives’ tale that teams make their most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 — except when they don’t — or the temptation to overreact to season openers.

There are apparently new rules in effect, and most of the rest of the Southeastern Conference seems to be taking full advantage of the new order, mostly on message boards, call-in shows, even occasional catcalls from afar.

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Not LSU.

Right now, after losing to Florida State 45-24 and given all the abuse they’re taking after the kerplunk the Tigers took in Orlando, Tigers fans are afraid to go near the office water cooler in mixed company.

They’re not totally alone.

The Florida Gators, while awaiting a visit from McNeese State, and South Carolina, rolling out the red carpet for Furman, also get to wear dunce caps all week and avoid eye contact in public. Both also had the misfortune of playing real teams.

But most of the SEC fandom is reveling and optimistic, suddenly confident and ready to proclaim that all the wiseacre experts had been, as they say, sleeping on their team all summer.

The proof is in the final scores.

So Grambling could be just what LSU needs right now to get back into the SEC conversation.

Don’t scoff. It surprised me, too.

But it sure worked for a lot of the Tigers’ SEC brethren last week.

Start at the top.

Alabama allegedly had more question marks than Nick Saban is usually comfortable with, particularly at the all-important quarterback spot. So the Tide went out and rolled Middle Tennessee 56-7, with somebody — Jalen Milroe, I guess it was — throwing for three touchdowns and running for two more. Voilà! — problem solved, all questions answered. It’s safe to bring on Texas.

You see how this works?

Georgia had an excuse for beating up Tennessee-Martin 48-7. The Dawgs keep reminding everyone that UT-M was a last-minute fill-in after the SEC didn’t want UGA to play the first of a scheduled home-and-home series with Oklahoma, which would complicate a return trip next season when the Sooners are in the SEC.

Starting to catch on?

Skip to Ole Miss, where the Rebels were tied early, but eventually showed no mercy on Mercer while running out a 73-7 win over the, uh, Bears, the Google search says. Several SEC teams could probably hang 73 on Mercer, but give Lake Kiffin credit for having the guts to do it. They were dancing in The Grove about it.

At least Mississippi State head coach Zach Arnett had the diplomatic restraint to complain at halftime about his lads only leading Southeastern Louisiana 20-7 and he didn’t seem much happier with the 48-7 final. Dad-blame Cowbells were clanging all over Starkville anyway.

Another first-year head coach, Hugh Freeze, is officially the savior at Auburn. It had been rumored all offseason that he was the perfect fit for a tough job and, lo and behold, a 59-14 win over UMass confirmed it.

By now you’re detecting the pattern.

So check out Texas A&M, where head coach Jimbo Fisher and irascible offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino didn’t throw down the gloves, even during the tense moments of a 52-10 win over New Mexico.

Or Arkansas, which no doubt will be convinced that this is finally its year after a 56-13 victory over Western Carolina.

And don’t forget Kentucky, which always seems to start strong, but — no overreaction — surely this year will have staying power after toppling Ball State 44-14.

Then there’s Missouri, which reaffirmed that it is and was in the SEC even before the college football map starting coming apart at the seams. A 35-10 win over South Dakota should be all the proof you need.

Tennessee, you’re excused from this exercise. Virginia at least is an FBS school — not a very good one, mind you, but 49-13 is still pretty impressive.

It’s the kind of thing LSU needs Saturday in its first-ever meeting with Grambling.

But LSU fans take note: none of those teams fans rushed the field after the victory.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at