No need to panic for Tigers

Somewhere around these parts today you will find actual newsprint evidence that LSU is now some nation’s — this one’s, actually — No. 5 football team in the AP poll.

You’re thinking this is proof that the writer’s poll has a sense of humor, right?

You might be correct, and on the surface it’s just the kind of sophomoric humor the media would get involved in.

In this case, though no one believes for now that it will have much of a shelf life, that No. 5 ranking is probably about right.

Oh, you’re probably guessing that none of the esteemed panel quite got around to watching the LSU-Louisiana Tech game.

You’re thinking the grunts voting on the media poll took the 38-21 final score at face value and were too lazy for the kind of investigative journalism it takes to dig up that Tech scared the pants off the Tigers well into the fourth quarter before that number was arrived at.

Again, possible.

But actually, what the AP poll was doing was sending LSU fans a chill pill.

Just relax. Nobody expected LSU to be 4-0 right now.

Don’t over-analyze it. Not yet, anyway.

Stuff happens.

Don’t believe me?

LSU, which was previously No. 6, traded places with mighty Oklahoma after the Sooners needed overtime to beat Army.

Yes, our Army, but not even regular Army — just the Cadets in West Point.

That’s speaks well for the future of our national security, but not so much for Oklahoma’s global football dominance.

Yet, the Sooners only got docked one spot in the poll, none at all in the coaches’ poll (which still has LSU No. 6).

The Tigers?

True, LSU frittered away all but three points of what was an expected 24-0 lead early before scrambling around frantically to tidy up the scoreboard enough to stuff the real evidence (417 yards total offense for Tech) under the couch.

But the Tigers won, even if the final was misleading.

It could be worse.

Just ask Virginia Tech.

That’s the same Virginia Tech whose defense got rave reviews for totally stuffing Florida State before anybody realized that these aren’t your father’s Seminoles.

Virginia Tech lost to Old Dominion 49-35 while giving up 632 yards to whatever Old Dominion is (Monarchs, I believe).

Old Dominion, which is a young football program, was 0-3 before that shocker, including a 52-10 loss to Liberty.

So there’s something to be said for just winning.

Here’s what Ed Orgeron said:

“We’ve gotta get better, like I’ve said the whole time,” the LSU head coach said. “We can’t play like that and expect to win in the SEC.”

Except that the Tigers have won in the SEC, already, in beating one of the league’s best, Auburn, on the road no less, just a week ago.

Nobody wanted to dicker with the aesthetics on that one.

In fact, if memory serves, the Tigers kind of took the second and third quarters off against Auburn, and came away grinning about it and forgiven for it.

I would kind of suggest giving Louisiana Tech its due credit on this one and letting it go at that.

But, of course, a game like this tends to turn fans into judges more than hopefuls.

So they watched Tech throw for 330 yards against LSU’s Dave Aranda-coordinated defense, and started trying to imagine Ole Miss next week, with one of the best trio of receivers in the SEC, and what havoc that might wreak in the Tigers’ secondary.

How soon they forget.

They did the same thing while watching LSU dillydally around with Southeastern Louisiana while trying to substitute Auburn players for the plucky Lions (in a game LSU won 31-0).

It wasn’t a valid comparison, and it turned out just fine for an LSU team that looked a little different the next week.

Not that the Tigers shouldn’t strive to iron out the kinks. If ever there was an LSU team that’s a work in progress, particularly on offense, this is it.

Current offense’s motto: Only score when absolutely necessary.

They may be at the fork in the road there, deciding if they’re going to be a pretty good team or the No. 5-ranked team in the nation.

But the shocker was the LSU defense Saturday night?

Never mind that Louisiana Tech has a hot-and-cold quarterback (J’Mar Smith) who was molten hot and some NFL-quality receivers.

But Tech’s scheme frustrated the Tigers as much as its talent, with head coach Skip Holtz coming up with a masterful plan to negate the LSU pass rush and free up receivers.

It’s not often the mad defensive scientist in Aranda loses a chess match, but he got out-snookered Saturday, never quite figuring out how to get LSU off of its heels.

If that was LSU’s biggest problem, not to worry.

It won’t happen very often.


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

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