Updated: Feb 28
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
We continue our count down of LSU Odyssey's Best XI Tigers of 2021, and much like last season's Top 10 Tigers of 2020 list, we were forced to analyze a season which will live on as a volatile, dangerous time for LSU, a scary year full of uncertainty and disappointment....
However, through it all, many Tigers treated fans to individual & collective brilliance at an elite level, showing out for the Tigers Community in our darkest, most desperate hours of need.
Who stepped up when LSU needed them most?
We reveal our Best IX Tigers of 2021.....
We keep the countdown going with one of the final representatives of Corey Raymond's DBU "Island of Pain".....
CORDALE FLOTT (CB/NB)
40 TACKLES (7th)
3 PBU (2nd)
1 INT (2nd)
1 FF (2nd)
When you talk about all time greatest Tiger turnarounds, Cordale Flott's 2021 comeback may not even land near the top of your list, such are his abundant talents & prior pedigree......regardless, the Alabama defector's fiery third season reminded everyone what a versatile talent he is.
The LSU DB's junior year was a complete reversal of fortune from 2020, a year where Cordale was roasted by average quarterbacks and even lesser receivers, turned inside out at the nickel position easily....
Within the madness of 2020, there were many distractions on or off the field, but even for 2020's most criticized Tigers, the struggles of Cordale Flott stood out as the most direct and ruinous of all:
Across 2020's 10 games, Cordale surrendered 7 direct touchdowns at a clip of 0.87 per game (also playing a critical part in allowing 2 more), including pairs of scores against Alabama, Mississippi State, as well as the only points Vanderbilt would muster at the end of a 41-7 win;
Heading into 2021, questions swirled concerning Flott's status....would he start?
Would freshman Sage Ryan take his role?
The 2019 National Champion was widely viewed as an "odd man out", hidden on LSU's depth chart behind the towering talents of best friend Derek Stingley Jr & prodigy Eli Ricks. Still, when I addressed everything that had negatively transpired for the young man, before the season in Flott's 2021 profile, I actually backed #25 for success. We felt something had to give...
Well, the 2019 freshman standout absolutely turned his fortunes around in remarkable fashion, at first playing solid and fast against UCLA, McNeese State & Central Michigan, breaking up passes and forcing incompletions through his blanket coverage;
Gone were the schoolboy errors of 2020....instead, we re-discovered a headstrong, confident 25...Cordale Flott had been reborn.
As his defensive teammates made high profile 2020-esque errors vs UCLA, Cordale's noticeable efficiency and aggression caught plaudits from throughout the LSU community, including this very site.
But it was all just a preamble....setting the stage for Mississippi State....a Saturday morning bout where Flott's name and game completely exploded into the national college football consciousness (as seen below).
Cordale came out of the tunnel ready to devour every pass Mississippi State's Will Rogers dared to throw his way, but the quarterback didn't learn his lesson until after his first target towards #25.
Leaping high above the earth below as he snatched a looping red zone pass out of the air, Flott stole the football with such panache the play even forced an injured Derek Stingley Jr to celebrate wildly on the sidelines, hustling over in crutches to congratulate his best friend.
Grabbing his first and (thus far) only LSU interception, before forcing a fumble on the next drive following a pummeling hit, Flott had his 2021 revenge over Miss State....
Against the team who previously lit up LSU's Stingley-less secondary for a record 600+ receiving yards, in no small part to his own past weaknesses, Flott didn't just get even in 2021....he got rich.
Now it was his turn to swing the pendulum: LSU's 7 points from Flott's turnovers handed the Tigers a slim, 28-25 victory, all as DBU's #1 CB of 2021 shut down half of the field.
Such was Flott's unspoken greatness in 2021, he actually held the highest ESPN coverage grade in the country through the first four games, playing 185 coverage snaps without allowing a TD, the most among SEC defensive backs & 4th in the country during that span. In fact, it would be clear until the final game of the season when the former Saraland prospect finally surrendered his first touchdown.
Additionally, Flott accomplished his magical 2021 without All-American CB Derek Stingley Jr for 9 games, forced to move outside into a standard cornerback role opposite Eli Ricks.
His reaction? All he did was progress by the snap....
Then, after LSU's disgusting beatdown at the hands of Kentucky, Ricks himself left the field for the final half of 2021, nursing a badly injured shoulder.
At that point, Cordale became DBU's #1 cornerback for the last 6 games, and other than crucially missing the Alabama game due to injury, the young Tiger made the most of his opportunity, forming a strong axis opposite elite level sophomore Dwight McGlothern.
After Cordale's strong opening to the season at nickel, switching starting positions (while missing the team's two best coverage men) could've destroyed the psyche of lesser DBs........but in 2021, Cordale Flott embraced everything that came his way, specifically opponents.
We can blather about Cordale's scintillating coverage skills for pages without end, yet his brutal tackling and athletic devastation on the flanks made Flott's biggest supporters around the fanbase or coaching & scouting world geaux all in equally.
Indeed, Flott's renaissance incorporated wicked hits on ball carriers, punishing blasts to dislodge potential catches, all as he sported a willing, "sideline controlling" menace.
Now setting himself up with a huge NFLSU or LSU choice following an elite, extended SEC run, I am honored and thrilled to include #25 among our Best XI Tigers of 2021.
Able to shake off an entire year of continuous criticism & on-field misadventure with an all-encompassing boot up the ass of every doubter, message board shit-talker, media pundit, talk show host, or glasses-wearing / indie rock-listening hipster sportswriter, Cordale Flott's third season will geaux down as one of the more underrated displays of pure guts I've seen in recent Tiger Times.
When one believes in themselves....anything is possible.
STAY TUNED FOR VIII
IF YOU MISSED XI
IF YOU MISSED X
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: NURSEKORT!!!! IAN C LEBLANC!!! STEPHEN BRIDGES YOU BASTARD I LOVE YOU!!! BARBI! KEVIN HOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWELL!