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By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
As the legend Charles Hanagriff described an ominous orange-tinted full moon rising high above a dark, empty Tigers Stadium on Halloween night, every LSU fan within its orbit were in a state of shellshocked, stunned fury... rooted to the spot without an answer for the fifty plus problems currently ruining 2020 LSU's title defending-season....
A title defense feels like light years in the past at this juncture....we're now trying to just hold on to our dignity and save as much face as possible.
Losing by 37 to Auburn is not only the worst LSU defeat since we were blown out by Wuerrfel / Spurrier's National title-winning Florida team back in 1996...this is the worst EVER LSU loss to Auburn in the series' history, a typically back and forth, topsy turvy series featuring close games, controversies and surprises.
The only surprise on Saturday was how lifeless LSU appeared, how nonexistant their big playmakers were, how anonymous our leaders are; the only controversy was Pelini continuing to stick by our current LBs despite possessing Devonta Lee, Josh White and Phillip Webb on the sidelines for 5 games, and if you turned your TV off after Auburn took a 14-3 lead, you wouldn't have missed much....just the most humiliating defeat since LSU became a national power around 2001.
Yes, LSU were crushed by 1996 Florida, but that team won a title....this Auburn squad should already have 5 losses, but here they are, trouncing and embarrassing Orgeron's unit, much like Leach's woeful Miss State team who throttled us so bad they fooled many into believing they were a Top 25 team....or Missouri...45 points to a freshman quarterback?
These aren't losses....they're pathetic submissions....and they're becoming such a pattern, they've become a "new normal" to the players (as we saw some joking as the game was embarrassing and horrifying with each second grinding away)...no heads hanging...almost no shame...
It is what it is...that's what their body language told me. Even parents of players were quote "disgusted" and "ashamed" by what they'd witnessed.
This is an Auburn team who were massacred by South Carolina, a side LSU just destroyed by 28 points...
How in the hell could today happen?
We've played pattycake, we've been overly positive at every turn after 44 points and 600+ yards vs Miss State, we tried to find any silver lining we could dig up after 45 points vs Missouri....but 48 against this Auburn team is unforgivable.
This isn't about scheme.
This isn't about talent.
This is all about the players, the coaches, the large disconnect within the Tigers' locker room and their inability to execute, communicate or improve in any capacity on defense...and now those horrific habits and poor play has bled over to the offense.
Our offense was all we had to keep us competitive, but after a half featuring only 3 points in the final seconds, a missed field goal, a defensive score and another turnover which directly led to another TD, all backed by the uncertain health of starter Myles Brennan, we're running out of hope...seeing Terrace Marshall dropping passes, our offensive line folding like a soggy pizza in the back of John Candy's van, Ty Davis-Price only receiving 3 carries after a 135 yard performance...
It hurts the mind...
Even our horrendous defense gave the offense a chance to tie the game repeatedly in the first half, holding the edge and making open field tackles for once (Ricks, Stingley, Cox, Baskerville).
But once the turnovers occurred, our team collectively lost their will to represent the purple and gold....
This is about effort...
Do you want to play for LSU?
On a day where Sage Ryan did everything possible to be a Tiger, suffering through a week of online abuse from LSU "fans" and still pledging his commitment, I look at those Tigers already on the field, currently wearing the purple and gold and I don't see any desire, dedication...sacrifice.
The fact our #7 and two #18s stand as our three most disappointing players says it all...
The fact we watched a myriad of young men bail on this team throughout the past few months (headlined by two more this week) speaks volumes about where LSU's current mentality lies...our Tigers are playing selfish, look rogue and frankly, don't deserve to be called Tigers until they atone vs Alabama.
The body language from players to staff is completely different from 2019....none of this seems real...none of this feels like it's happening...is this the same staff who just produced the greatest team of all time?
Where's the swagger? The impetus? The Brotherhood saying "I got you out there" or guys grabbing their teammates and saying "Listen Up!"???
I've never felt so ashamed of an LSU unit, one we backed and hyped to the hilt....
I can handle losing, I can take a bad loss...we experienced 2018 Alabama, 2016 Troy etc BUT I won't tolerate an Orgeron squad who don't give a damn....I won't accept an Orgeron-coached team resembling the 2012 BCS title game...cause today gives that showing a run for its money.
There's no accountability, no questioning of anything on the sidelines....just 900 mile stares....I haven't seen Orgeron scream once on the sideline, I haven't witnessed any pow wows of teammates trying to figure it out either.
Something isn't right...
Is there a lack of connection, communication and empathy between coaches and players?
Are political assumptions and squabbles to blame for the on-field errors?
Are these issues stemming from the age gap, philosophical differences or experience levels between members of the staff?
What's going on?
Because it literally appears as if these guys have given up, it seems like there's something festering behind the scenes...and we don't say that for salacious reasons, we bring this to the forefront because the pattern has been hammered home.
There's no rhyme or reason for how horrible LSU's entire team (specifically the defense) have played....unless major distractions have affected this team.
This isn't about every player LSU lost to the 2020 NFL Draft hurting the team...this squad were still a Top 5 group without Burrow, Clyde, Justin, Rashard, Lloyd, Kristian etc
Since June, LSU's wonder-ride as college football's admirable sweetheart upstarts went on a downhill slide...snowballing out of control worse than a night partying with Charlie Sheen, Kid Rock and Robert Downey Jr in 1999.
From mid June on, 2020 LSU has experienced one distraction after another, one drama after another, opt outs, suspensions, title XI investigations regarding Derrius Guice, more transfers, more shocking opt outs with each name announced, Covid absences, another few opt outs, players opting out then returning, guys threatening to opt out, injuries, an NCAA witchhunt, controversial new hires, hurricanes, altered schedules, postponed games....there's been a historic amount of changes Orgeron's young men and staff have faced, all starting in the summer.
Before June, LSU still had Marcel Brooks, Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Shelvin, Kary Vincent Jr, Apu Ika and in every department those key talents have been horribly missed.
Safeties Coach Bill Busch could use Kary's track speed, 4 INT, 50+ tackles and range right about now, Pelini could've used Brooks' pass-rushing, side to side pace and tackling abilities; if our offense already score 40+ points a game (save for today and Miss State, 27), imagine where they'd be with Ja'Marr Chase out wide...the passing attack and rushing game would be unstoppable; We have a Tyler Shelvin-sized hole at the base of our interior, where we're allowing huge gashing runs and surrendering a major pocket of space for offenses to attack,
Following those four key departures, I still felt this unit could challenge for a National Championship, led now by Stingley, Brennan, Stevens, Clark, Marshall, Curry and Cox....but we forgot just how good those four stunning talents made 2019 LSU.
With Chase out there, Arik Gilbert and Terrace Marshall are open EVERY play and the running game can be established...with Vincent in the secondary, LSU's safeties prevent many of these big plays. If Shelvin had stayed at DT, by reputation, presence and girth alone, the Tigers' D-Line would be performing light years better against the run, not merely running like headless chickens after the quarterback.
The only D-Linemen who we watched pursue or make plays in the run game was B.J Ojularj, shedding a block and kicking inside to rough up Bo Nix, shutting the quarterback down on a 3rd and long QB draw. Had Ojulari not made the solo tackle, Nix would've gained a first down to go with 15 yards.
After Ojulari, it was Gaye getting juked out of his socks by Bo Nix and all manner of slapstick shenanigans....our defense looks like what we did to opponents throughout 2019.
Theres nothing coming from the D-Line to stuff or break up that momentum from the rusher, so on every rushing attempt, opposition backs have a clear vision of where to go with the ball, already a head full of steam.
By the time the backs get to the linebackers or safeties, they've taken full flight...without anyone willing to do the dirty work, LSU's allowing 143 rushing yards per game, teams have passed for 1,676 yards on the Tigers, for 335 yards per game and 9.98 yards per pass attempt...good for a disgusting 33.6 points per game, allowing 40+ in 3 games out of 5...
Shocking doesn't even begin to state it...Bo Nix, one of the most hated players among LSU fans, kicked our ass.
Not even LSU's performance vs Troy was as bad as what we saw today...no excuses can be made for how awful this squad performed...we thought they'd hit rock bottom vs Miss State, we thought they'd experienced an epiphany after Missouri cost us a chance at the CFP and our starting QB, but now we're at an altogether new low....one we have the answer for.
TO BE CONTINUED:
LSU'S 2020 ANSWERS
BLACK LIVES MATTER
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC LLC
SHOUTOUTS: AD MY MAN HANG IN THERE YOU'RE ABOUT TO HIT ELECTRIC AVENUE, YOU ARE A KING, MR. HAROLD, Everyone who finished the Auburn game and anyone who joined us for our live post-game stream, THANK YOU ALL!!