Updated: Feb 27
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 # VI:
A freshman who stood tall like a veteran, becoming much beloved among the fan base, all as his national star rose to the point Kirk Herbstreit and Todd Blackledge were obsessed with saying his name....
JACK BECH (WR/TE)
489 Yards (3rd)
43 Receptions (1st)
3 TDs (3rd)
NEXT LEVEL ODYSSEY STATS
1st Down Conv. Rec: 27
3rd Down Conv. Rec: 12
Missed Tack. Forced:17 (3rd In SEC)
Regardless of the fact we only watched Bech participate in just one play of January's Texas Bowl, the freshman powerhouse out of Lafayette still led LSU in receptions, placed third in yards and touchdowns, became the true #1 receiving target for the Tigers after Kayshon Boutte's season-ending injury, and finished his explosive debut season as one of the most beloved players on the roster.
Jack Bech, for anyone late to the party, is here to stay as a high octane prism of power for LSU's Brian Kelly era, and it's obvious from the outset our new Head Coach views Jack in much the same way we do.
To start, Kelly offered Bech a scholarship nearly two years before LSU, hosting Jack and Walker Howard in South Bend.
A relationship is already established, a common ground forged, and from my own talks with Jack, I can say the young Tiger is definitely enjoying LSU's 2022 Kelly staff, from the return of Frank Wilson, the hiring of Notre Dame trainer Jake Flint, or WRs Coach Cortez Hankton's arrival from UGA (wearing a shiny new championship ring), Jack's development appears to be highly valued by LSU's current regime.
This staff watched the game tapes from LSU's past season...they must understand, possessing his wide ranging abilities, 2021 should've been a season where Jack snags at least 8 TDs or more, age be damned.
Too often, especially inside the red zone, Bech would be removed from the game, leaving Kayshon Boutte the subject of a double, sometimes triple team with safety help;
When LSU's offensive coaches continued to take the team's best red zone target out of these critical packages after Kayshon's injury, while Deion Smith was also hurt, it became unconscionable self-sabotage.
Jack easily deserves a spot among our Best XI, yet I can only wonder what could have been in year one if LSU's coaching staff actually understood what made Jack Bech so elite in the first place.
One of his most under-utilized abilities?
Forget the tight end nonsense, this young man should have been thrown crossing routes and slants nonstop throughout 2021, easy pitch and catch short yardage throws which Jack Bech turns into "take it to the limit" alchemy with his unbelievable yards after catch agility, underrated pace, demonstrative strength, and overwhelming desire.
Instead, we rarely witnessed these quick, rhythmic passes in our offensive setup under Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas; but when #80 received the ball on these high percentage plays, he would gain over 15 yards per grab (for example, his first ever LSU reception against UCLA is the exact definition of what we're pointing out. Max hits Bech in stride, Jack turns it up for a huge first down and 17 yards. We also take note of that fateful afternoon at the Rose Bowl due to the fact Peetz only called Bech's number one more time during that same game, a wayward deep shot...Bech's supersonic, at times frustrating 2021 season in a bottle).
Anytime he touched the football, positive things happened for LSU's pisspoor 2021 offense. Often, the freshman required 7 or 8 defenders just to stop him, as Bech displayed with towering strength vs Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn....on those plays where he fought through 3/4 of an SEC defense by himself, Jack still never went to ground....
Just as he carried hapless senior or junior SEC defenders on his back, Jack could've carried LSU's impotent offense during 2021;
Sadly, he wasn't afforded many sustained opportunities to really take over and announce himself to a level which would help the team win the biggest games (example: Alabama) or propel his name into a highly deserved freshman All-American selection.
Poor quarterback play & even worse play-calling are squarely to blame for 2021's sub .500 outcome. Amid the worst year of LSU's storied 21st century run, Jack was among just a few players on our offense who performed at a championship level.
As I told buddy and former 2019 LSU analyst Thee Jeff Martin, "Bech gives me straight up 2019 LSU vibes....like Joe Burrow would've loved playing with this cat..."
In spite of his age or difference in position, Jack is cut from the same Tiger tapestry as Joe: championship eyes, an assassin's gaze, all encompassing hunger, stratospheric belief....it's all there.
No doubt LSU's 2022 offense under Mike Denbrock and Brian Kelly have the blueprint for how to fail with Jack Bech. They can see the mistakes from LSU's misuse of a variety of players, Bech chief among the top; surely Kelly & Denbrock know the direction to succeed???
As for 2022, I have a sincere feeling we'll see Bech unleashed, evolving his game to the next level, earning repeated chances to succeed....as nature intended.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2022 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
LET'S GEAUX WHITNEY!!!! KEVIN!!! MICHAEL MY LONG ISLAND BRUDDAH