ON A FRIEND'S COUCH — It's a long story. It involves many, many hours on the phone talking with various airlines, mostly on hold listening to Muzak, while they canceled more flights and "just filled up" others that might have helped my cause.

One suggested I could drive to Houston to catch the connecting flight there — perhaps unaware that at the time you could drive from here to Cancun easier than here to Houston.

Even tried New Orleans. No go. Tried everything short of hooking up with Steve Martin and John Candy in "Trains, Planes and Automobiles."

The travel gremlins were conspiring against me.

A lot of teases and false hope. And I can't get the United Airlines theme song out of my head.

But nothing to get me closer to Music City worked.

Bottom line: for just the third time in all these years of covering LSU football, I'm not in the press box, this time for the LSU-Vanderbilt game.

I am among friends, but it is a strange sensation being with civilians in a household environment.

It's noisier, but overall better behaved than my press box buddies. And the food was far better.

Still, this is not how I'm conditioned.

If I was in my natural habitat, I know what we'd be talking about in the press box. I know what would be dominating the discussion.

Is this *#$% game ever going to end!?

Really.

Everybody seems to agree that this new, high-speed version of LSU football is a ton of fun to watch.

But, c'mon, is it four hours worth of fun? There's such a thing as too much of a good thing. Is there something about the spread offense that makes every other play worthy of reviewing?

If I'd had been in the press box Saturday, at one juncture I'd have pointed out that the Alabama-Southern Miss game, which started at the same time, was over, finished, and LSU-Vanderbilt still had several minutes to play … in the third quarter.

Did I miss seven overtimes somewhere?

Nothing gets sports writers more frustrated. I'm sure they had a good grumble-fest about it.

In fact, I did mention it in this living room — Alabama over, LSU still in third quarter.

Shrugs and crickets.

Nobody seemed to care.

So I shut up and watched the game.

It's different on TV.

For one thing, it just starts. Almost without warning.

Nothing is happening — no gradual filling up of the stadium, no pre-warm-ups then warm-ups, no bands — you just look up and they're lining up for the kickoff.

Amazing. All you have to do is hit the remote — instant ballgame.

Anyway, some thoughts about a 66-38 LSU victory:

Hold on. Did I just say 66? As in points? And it didn't seem strange. It's almost becoming the norm for LSU.

But back to random thoughts:

When the game opened with a shot of the opposite stands, I'm thinking, wait a minute, I could have driven to Baton Rouge. But, no, it wasn't an LSU home game, it's just that way more than half the fans were in purple and gold.

I knew this LSU offense was dynamic. But on TV Joe Burrow makes it look even easier than he has lately in person. Or maybe it was just Vanderbilt's secondary.

But it almost gets boring knowing this LSU team can score whenever it really puts its mind to it.

Some of us remember when touchdowns used to mean something.

Burrow held serve in wherever he stands in the Heisman Trophy race. He was dazzling again, even set a school record — fish-in-a-barrel division — by throwing six touchdown passes.

But you don't win the Heisman against Vanderbilt.

I take up for SEC officials a lot. They must look better in person than on the screen. Not their best day.

The game lasted four hours!

Is anybody going to point out that LSU gave up 38 points to a Vanderbilt team that had scored only 30 combined in its first two games.

Again, watching this LSU defense is taking as much getting used to as watching the new offense.

OK, the defense only gave up 24 points — the LSU offense gave up two touchdowns.

One came on a fumble in the end zone when LSU reverted to its conservative past and tried to run out the clock out late in the first half.

Lesson learned.

When that targeting call against Vanderbilt, which would negated the pick-six LSU gave up, was waved off, somewhere Devin White was wondering, "Hey, what about mine?"

Did I mention that the game lasted four hours!

LSU did check one off the defensive bucket list with its first two interceptions of the season. And it got enough early stops while the offense was running a relay race to put the game away early.

But right now, it's feast of famine defensively, with one big stop often followed by giving up a bigger third-down conversion.

You can talk about defensive injuries, fatigue, whatever.

But right now, the Tigers' biggest problem is more fundamental — they've forgotten how to tackle.

A week's emphasis didn't seem to help much against a Commodores team not known for shifty athleticism.

Until they master that lost art, better get used to these basketball scores.

And more four-hour games!


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

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