Clarion Herald Sports
If you are an LSU football fan, the 2018 edition should be one of your all-time-favorite teams.
Think about it. When’s the last time you can say an LSU football team overachieved? That certainly wasn’t true in the Les Miles era.
As much success as Miles had (two BCS title games, two SEC titles, one national title), there was always that queasy feeling inside that this litany of Top 5 recruiting classes should have accomplished more.
The overachievers, this season, are many. Tailback Nick Brossette, banished to the bench after last year’s fumble on the opening play in an upset loss to Troy, led the SEC in rushing touchdowns with 10.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, allegedly too tiny to be an effective back in best league in the land, is averaging 4.96 yards a carry. He has five rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback Joe Burrow has provided much more than just six touchdown passes. His leadership and ability to make big plays when needed have provided the Tigers with something that has been sporadic over the last decade. That is, quality play at the position.
Burrow knows a thing or two about team building. He is constantly complimenting his teammates and saving the criticism for himself. After a subpar first half against Mississippi State, Burrow told reporters it was his worst half of football, ever. He even admitted to being nervous.
“I threw the ball like a middle schooler,” said Burrow.
The LSU offensive line, without two starters, Garrett Brumfield (injury) and guard Ed Ingram (suspension), has been surprisingly efficient.
And, the kicking game, has been stellar. Walk-on Avery Atkins has booted 46 of 52 kickoffs for touchbacks.
Kicker Cole Tracy leads the SEC in scoring, and is 19 of 19 from inside 50 yards.
Safety Grant Delpit, a solid contributor as a true freshman, now leads the SEC in interceptions with five. In the first two months of the season, he has simply been one of the best players in college football.
Year to year, the snapshot of LSU football has changed dramatically. In 2017, the Tigers were embarrassed in a 37-7 loss to Mississippi State. Thirteen months later, LSU held State to a first-quarter field goal in a 19-3 win.
“It is night and day,” said Ed Orgeron. “We are a different team. We have a different chemistry on our coaching staff. We have different leadership. We have a different belief. We have an outstanding kicking game. We have a different quarterback. Things are completely different, for the better.”
Last week, Orgeron was added to the Bear Bryant watch list, an award that is presented to the coach of the year in college football. If Orgeron’s team pulls the upset of Bryant’s alma mater, he is the coach of the year in college football, hands down. And, if he doesn’t, a Sugar Bowl berth could be in LSU’s future.
This is a certainty. The LSU Tigers are one of the best stories in college football.
For a frustrated fan base, they are a pigskin version of a breath of fresh air.
Ed Daniels is sports director at ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.