DEDICATED TO ANDRE ANTHONY'S EYE OF THE TIGER
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
During his Monday lunch hour press conference, Coach Ed Orgeron was happy to talk about the steely, aggressive, fast & furious manner in which his Tigers eviscerated Central Michigan, however.... when it came to the tough news every member of the press couldn't wait to ask, Coach O was more somber than I've seen him in a long time:
After injuries to QB Myles Brennan, starting safety Jay Ward, starting left tackle Cam Wire, veteran DL Glen Logan & Ali Gaye & freshman Sage Ryan, another blow came to the Tigers Family when super senior DE Andre Anthony sustained what looked to be a torn ACL....in fact, Coach O confirmed it all today:
"Let me say this....what an outstanding Tiger, what an outstanding leader, I've coached Andre...Andre has been with me since the beginning here. We have.....I absolutely love him, he has a season-ending injury, we just discussed it. But it's sad news...it really is because he's having a good season..."
It is a devastating blow to one of LSU's biggest leaders and brightest stars, a rising pass-rushing force in college football.
Over his last 11 appearances, Dre punished quarterbacks for 9 sacks, 9.5 TFLs, he racked up 32 tackles, forced a fumble, and recovered another for a touchdown.....ridiculously savage numbers which indicate his stunning rate of improvement & pro-ready trajectory.
Leading the team in sacks during LSU's tumultuous 2020 season, it was only because of pillars such as Anthony that our Tigers even finished holding a .500 record last year.
Joining the team out of Edna Karr's 2016 class, the 203rd overall national talent, 14th rated national DE, and 13th overall player out of Louisiana has witnessed as many changes as you possibly can throughout his 5 years on campus:
Not only did Anthony join the team while the disgraceful Les Miles was still the Tigers' head coach & face of the program, he was recruited heavily by then D-Line Coach Ed Orgeron, Anthony's biggest fan to this day;
Dre watched as Athletic Director Joe Alleva and President F. King Alexander's toxic regime were ousted and current AD Scott Woodward arrived, revolutionizing segments of the athletic department; Then came the pinnacle:
Anthony was fully healthy and played back-up DE/OLB for the fabled 2019 National Championship team, witnessing the G.O.A.T college football team's rise as a full participant.
After hanging around long enough to see edge-rushers & DL K'Lavon Chaisson & Rashard Lawrence drafted by NFL teams, Orgeron finally handed him the starting DE role...backed by his head coach's full blessing and pride on every rep.
He responded in kind, registering 5.5 sacks over 8 games during 2020, becoming the team's leading "sackmaster flash"; Following his greatest LSU season, Anthony believed he could significantly raise his NFL Draft stock if he stayed in Baton Rouge for one more year, taking advantage of the "Covid extra year"....and he was right:
Following his injury midway through the 2nd quarter of Saturday's game, Anthony already had 3.5 sacks (tied for 3rd in the country), 9 pressures, 8 tackles, 4 QB hits, 4.0 Tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery and his first ever LSU touchdown....
Through 3 games, Dre was an absolute wrecking ball.....and then, much like the majority of Anthony's LSU career, another unexpected challenge occurred:
Rushing the passer vs Central Michigan, Andre innocuously twisted his knee without much contact from the opposing offensive lineman, then immediately went down, sprawled out on his back against the Death Valley field....a deep hush falling over the crowd and sidelines.
Coach Ed Orgeron appeared as if he was watching one of his own sons down on the field, shaking his head while Andre was stuck ripping wads of turf out of the dirt, banging his hand against the grass in anguish....
I knew it wasn't good, and on Sunday afternoon multiple sources confirmed to me that the senior DE would miss the final 9+ games of LSU's season....it was a devastating blow, made even worse when you know Andre's history:
Immediately upon entering LSU, Andre was forced to sit out the entire 2016 season due to academic ineligibility, stretching from his time at Edna Karr; Once he was finally eligible at the start of the 2017 campaign, he hurt his left foot during 1 on 1 speed drills right before Week 1's shutout victory over BYU.
Soon enough, he was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury, a process where bones begin detaching from your feet. It was a grueling injury, made worse by a frustrating, painful rehab process which never seemed to lead anywhere...never seemed to solve the pain he was suffering.
In the end, Dre's Lisfranc sidelined him for the entire 2017 campaign....yet with hard work and determination, Anthony conquered the repeated problems in his left foot.
Finally, when eligible to play for 2018, DEs Rashard Lawrence and sophomore K'Lavon Chaisson already assumed both defensive edge positions;
Despite Chaisson's Week 1 injury vs Miami, much like the one Anthony is currently suffering, his rehab limited his presence to minimal reps....although Coach O made sure he got his feet wet across all 13 games (Dre recovered a fumble vs Southeastern Louisiana before registering 5 tackles & a 0.5 sack vs Auburn).
When he first took the field during Week 1 of 2018 vs Miami, Anthony was living a dream he'd been waiting for nearly 3 years to come true....it had been 2 years & 8 months since he'd last worn pads or a helmet on the gridiron, representing Edna Karr at the Under Armour All-American Bowl game in January 2016.
Appearing in 9 games with 2 starts throughout the National title victory of 2019, Anthony registered 9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack vs Sam Ehlinger & Texas, and a batted pass, more than earning his SEC / National Championship rings & seat on the Immortality bus.
Heading into 2020's championship-defense, Coach Ed Orgeron praised Anthony more than any other player throughout the off-season, commenting on his growth, leadership, maturity, pass-rushing expertise and NFL-level future....Dre repaid his Coach by leading the team in sacks & being recognized as one of the team's most willing leaders.
As the Tigers hungrily arrived at 2021's doorstep, Coach Ed Orgeron heaped never-ending praise upon his veteran DE once again, calling him the team leader on many occasions....Andre already repaid that faith with some arresting numbers over 3 games (3.5 sacks, 4 TFLs, 1 FR, 1 defensive TD)....
The story never changed...the script has never been flipped. When it concerns Andre Anthony, #3 is always the same person: himself.
Now, after his fantastic start to 2021 is left in tatters, the rest of the campaign will be the third time since 2016 where Anthony must sit or stand on the sidelines for all (or the majority) of the football calendar.....
Will it be the final time we see one of the longest-tenured Tigers wearing purple & gold?
2 FUMBLE RECOVERIES
1 DEF. TD (FR RET)
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: DRE....WE LOVE YOU!!! GET FEELING BETTER & IN NO PAIN! WE WANT TO SEE YOU GIVE IT ONE MORE SHOT AT LSU, BUT....I WANT YOU TO CASH THE PAYCHECK YOU'VE EARNED BY HEADING TO THE NFL!
WE SUPPORT YOU 100% NO MATTER WHAT!