by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
3 and a half hours of rough viewing....
Tuesday night was something you'll never witness again at LSU:
A program so disorganized, a roster so mismanaged under Coach Ed Orgeron that LSU needed a 6th year senior WR to reprise his high school position at QB; the Tigers required numerous walk-ons to fill in at multiple key positions, including cornerback and running back (positions where LSU possessed just 2 scholarship players on roster for each spot), holding 38 total scholarship Tigers on active roster.....hell, even our only field goal kicker was banged up in practice....and second leading receiver Jack Bech was held out, limited to just one play....
The very team itself was now held together by duct tape, yet we were still needing another roll...
The game itself was so misery-inducing you had to have fun with Tuesday night's Texas Bowl or some kind of painful delirium would set in.
We had to make it comical.....or the stark realities of the next 4 quarters would become all too intense....sure, the 2022 Texas Bowl was as meaningless as a bowl game can be, yet on the other hand, its symbology could be significant for LSU's immediate future growth.
Losing 42-20, our defensive leaders, Jay Ward, B.J Ojulari, Jaquelin Roy, Darren Evans and freshman Quinton "Pig" Cage, were all flying around, trying to do two or three things at once amid their decimated, inexperienced unit.
On offense, WR turned QB Jontre Kirklin merely tried to get through each play with something positive, spinning away from each attempted sack as they arrived, uncorking long range bombs down field, some resulting in big plays, 2 ending in turnovers.
Regardless, Kirklin made every Tiger fan extremely proud.
Considering the attrition, Kirklin's 11 completions, 3 touchdown passes and 61 rushing yards will live long in the history of LSU Football. In fact, Kirklin's 3 touchdown passes resides next to Joe Burrow and Matt Flynn as the only trio of Tigers to ever toss 3 TDs in a bowl game....remember....Jontre did not play quarterback for 6 years.
It was wild, reckless backyard football wearing an SEC uniform, playing on college football's bigger stages.....but Kansas State matched LSU's relentless nature, bringing a physicality to proceedings which quickly broke down the Tigers' barebones squad.
Once the lack of secondary or linebacker depth allowed Kansas St's vanilla offense to wear down our Tigers, LSU's depleted group were in for a long night;
Texas Bowl MVP, K-State RB Deuce Vaughn, boasts electric pace & versatility, shaking and baking Todd Harris into multiple tackles of the air.......all as Vaughn flew into the end zone for 3 rushing touchdowns and a 4th receiving score (alongside his 146 rushing yards).
Vaughn shredded the Tigers on the edges, up the middle and underneath....a death of a thousand cuts....the next one more painful than the last.
With Malik Knowles' 2 TD catches, K-State really only needed two primary contributors to bury the Tigers in 40+ point disgust.
At one point, things were so dire on defense, K-State QB Skylar Thompson completed his first 8 passes on 3rd down, converting every single opportunity....
While our "replacement backups" and Tiger walk-ons played admirably, showcasing hunger, perseverance and heart, it wasn't enough.
LSU allowed the most all-time points in our program's bowl game history (42)....before Tuesday, the Tigers had never given up over 35........
LSU finish 2021 at 6-7, the program's first sub .500 season since 1999.....
The numbers are nasty....
Scary, even.....however, these statistics are not a measure of the path LSU currently walk: they're full-blooded admissions of where LSU have been over the past 2 years......
If there's anyone wondering just how Coach Ed Orgeron ruined LSU, here's your answer; if there's anyone still defending Coach O as a man who loved LSU, sit down and watch this game three times in a row, all while asking yourself "how did Myles, Max, and TJ all transfer, then our young stunner freshman won't even play?" Ask yourself "how in the name of God are we down to a pair of cornerbacks....????" How is this possible???
How were our players so ill-disciplined off the field that we had big time leaders like Micah Baskerville, Cam Lewis, John Emery Jr, Dwight McGlothern, and Raydarious Jones all knocked out by LSU's rabid compliance department, Emery for the entirety of 2021....
Where were the adults?
Where was the oversight?
If there's still a debate as to how LSU became in such a state of disrepair or whether Orgeron played a major role in absolutely screwing over LSU's gritty 2021 seniors or juniors, I don't think anything will make that case anymore clearly than the shell of a team we were left with last night....all as Jay Ward, Jontre Kirklin, Malik Nabers, Corey Kiner, Josh Williams, Jaquelin Roy, Quinton "Pig" Cage and B.J Ojulari filled up to two or three roles, sometimes simultaneously, as they played with every last ounce of energy & violence they could muster...
Let's not forget, Jontre Kirklin just tossed a longer touchdown pass than any receiving play from 2019 or 2020, that means Kirklin tops Joe Burrow, Brennan, Finley, Johnson, Nussmeier....not only that, Kirklin possibly threw a better-looking deep ball than the last pair of LSU QBs who transferred to SEC West rivals....
Kirklin had a lot put on his shoulders....he was expected to deliver the Tigers a victory, run around and "give it a go", though not to the point of turning it over and leading to defeat.
Well, he finely straddled that line, tossing 2 duck interceptions, yet his 3 TD passes & 61 rushing yards will live forever in LSU Tigers' lore:
Recruited by Les Miles as a cornerback, winning a National Championship under Ed Orgeron as a receiver, now starting at quarterback in a bowl game for Brad Davis & Brian Kelly....Tigers such as Jontre Kirklin are fast becoming extinct:
At LSU, Choo Choo was versatile, selfless, and his longevity, remaining on roster for just under 6 years, is truly remarkable.
Jontre should never have found himself in that situation, carrying the offense on his shoulders....but he embraced the moment, excelling against the odds, in the process becoming one of the most beloved LSU Tigers of recent memory.
As LSU's 2021 season continued its final public collapse, the Tigers' new Head Coach Brian Kelly gave a great interview to ESPN during the game itself, talking about Max Johnson's transfer decision, Walker Howard convincing him to dance around on camera, as well as laying out his plan to restore the 2019 National Champions back to title contention.
Comparing the feeling Kelly gave me during that interview alone to what happened the other night, as well as the prior 2 seasons which led to the debacle in Houston, I don't think Brian Kelly will ever let something as bad as this ever happen at LSU again.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2022 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
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