Welcome to the Coach O era
BATON ROUGE — LSU fans can rejoice.
And pardon them if they were looking and feeling a little extra smug Sunday.
They had been vindicated.
Never mind that the Tigers’ coaches and players gave them a lot of credit for what happened Saturday in LSU’s 36-16 upset-rout of No. 2 Georgia.
There’s a thing called “defending your turf” and if ever Tiger Stadium needed some help, it was Saturday after it was almost overrun by regiment after regiment of red-clad Georgia Bulldog fans.
They were everywhere, threatening to take over the joint, something of a surprise attack. They seemed to be sprouting up out of every portal, almost like they’d suddenly appeared out of a Trojan Horse and engulfed LSU’s paradise.
It was right of the purple and gold Twilight Zone.
Tiger Stadium was fading to red like it’d been photoshopped, and that wasn’t even the strangest sight.
Who in the world were those players down there in the white jerseys, anyway? And what in fool tarnation were they up to?
They looked about as familiar as the strangers sitting next to you in the upper deck wearing red and black and marvelling about their wild time on Bourbon Street the night before.
Georgia’s 2003 visit still goes down as the best day game ever in Tiger Stadium (LSU 17-10). A 2007 game against Virginia Tech (LSU 48-7) would still be LSU’s closest-ever brush with playing the elusive perfect football game.
But go ahead and put Saturday’s dismantling of Georgia as the best game LSU ever played in Tiger Stadium in broad daylight.
So sending those waves and waves of Bulldog intruders home unhappy (though most seemed to be handling it well) had to be satisfying.
But that wasn’t really why LSU fans were so smug.
It’s always nice to be proven right.
It turns out LSU fans were dead-on. After all these years, it turns out that even the most looney of football-novice LSU lunatics knew what they were talking about in their knee-jerk frustrations.
Open up the offense!
See, it works. It’s neither trigonometry nor brain surgery.
Look at the scoreboard. Look at the students storming the field.
That is what LSU football is supposed to look like.
All you had to do was throw the ball on first down every now and then, preferably going deep.
Pedal to the metal!
At long last, it’s here.
Maybe if LSU fans had known this would be the long-awaited roll-out of the Ed Orgeron Era, surely Georgia fans would have had more problems scarfing up all those tickets on the secondary market.
And, really, that’s what it was.
Or at least this was the presumed business model of putting a full-blooded Cajun in charge of such an important state agency.
Everything LSU fans had been promised had just unfolded in front of their eyes in brilliant sunshine,
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda did his thing. Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger wasn’t just turned loose, he was given a mandate to follow his instincts.
Orgeron? He pushed all the right buttons getting his players to put the loss to Florida behind them — he’s got a knack for that — then stood watch and let his assistants do their job while he grumbled out the key game decisions.
Grrd frrs orrt (Go for it).
Always a crowd pleaser, especially when you’re 4-for-4 on fourth-down gambles.
Orgeron had been hinting at this kind of approach all along.
He kept insisting he wanted to be a wide open offense, but it seemed like something kept getting in the way.
Maybe next week. For sure.
Well, on Saturday next week was this week, all because of last week.
Orgeron said he was (ticked off) at himself for settling for a field goal on the third possession of the Florida game.
Caution was sent packing.
Ensminger was unleashed.
And it was something to see staid ol’ LSU — 36 points against a defense that was allowing just 13 per game; 475 yards against a team that was giving up just 283.
OK, good game plan. It worked. Got LSU to an early advantage.
But was there any lead too big for the New Ensminger to sit on, to run clock, to not risk losing the game?
Georgia had cut the lead to 19-9 at the start of the fourth quarter and LSU, even backed up to its own 14 where an errant pass could have spelled disaster, threw on three of its next five plays … eventually ended up with a 86-yard touchdown drive.
“I think that was that best drive that Coach ‘E’ has called all year,” said Joe Burrow, who’s proving it helps to have a quarterback you trust when opening things up. “We hadn’t really put teams away like that and kind of stomped them into the ground. I think we took a big step on that.”
“We were going to take shots and go for it,” Orgeron said. “Play to win the game the whole time.”
What a concept, huh?
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org