📷 LSU's TOP 10 MOMENTS OF 2019/2020 PT. I: #10-7
LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
As Joe Burrow enjoyed his final night in Louisiana, rocking aviators, savagely dissing Alabama, and wildly celebrating Coach Steve Ensminger, the parade crowd that gathered at the Maravich Center went nuts, whooping it up for the final time in a week full of celebration.
Although I'm stunned to say I still don't even know how to process what just happened...we've tried mass drunkenness, lewd public behavior, fist-a-cuffs with the police, we've gone down on all fours growling like a gawddamn Tiger, we've gone to the White House, we've dropped dolla dolla billz ya'll...we got the gat baby....we've done it all and yet the wonder of the 2019/20 season doesn't feel real.
Did that just happen?
Did we seriously just go from Cam Cameron and Danny Etling to Ensminger/Brady and Joe Burrow??
Though we felt a dynamic offense was on the horizon after outstanding offensive showings vs A&M and UCF in 2018/19, we only dreamed about this type of scoring; while we had personal faith in Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who many forgot in pre-season), Ja'Marr Chase, and Justin Jefferson, who could foresee a smashing of nearly every single-season offensive record and many all-time SEC and LSU records, orchestrated by the mad-eyed majestic #9???
I'll tell you who:
In the entire country, only 3 AP writers voted LSU preseason SEC champions, while Joe Burrow claimed "this offense should put up 50 points a game."
The few writers or media members, who paid attention to Burrow's renegade statement of intent, mocked his arrogance...instead, they should now applaud his foresight.
We predicted Joe Burrow's rise....but no one could've anticipated the breadth of his legend: Burrow had to earn that himself...he worked for nothing short of greatness and he became greatness personified.
LSU's highly doubted, often criticized squad of proto-NFL-footballers out-scored all-comers to a Division I record 726 points to 328 (Take it Jimbo, just take it!), while being led by a stable of singular, ambitious coaches (all with Hollywood backstories too fairytale they'd even make Jerry Bruckheimer sick).
Together, Coach Ed Orgeron stirred these ingredients into a feisty, Grade A gumbo and drew us all in, keeping celebrity bandwagon "fans" like Vince Vaughn, Donald Trump and Matthew McConaughey entertained to no end; meanwhile, for the fans who were here before 2019 and will remain long after: we were in heaven.
No matter what happens, there'll always be something profoundly special about Autumn 2019, knowing full well every time you went to turn on the radio, TV or phone you'd be hearing every sportscaster or host worth a damn talking about the insanity of Joe Burrow's LSU.
The pedal-to-the-metal manner in which LSU took over college football captured the hearts and minds of an entire nation...and I don't know about you, but I'll never get old of hearing people admiring our Tigers. 📷
And as a sports fan, there's nothing more ultimately satisfying than listening to non-stop doubt at every turn of the journey and watching so many with such big platforms proven so infinitely wrong.
It was four men who really ignited the 2018/2019/2020 LSU machine: LSU recruiter and safeties coach Bill Busch, athletic director Scott Woodward, and the untrusted, "unproven" grittiness and intelligence of jarhead Coach Orgeron joined forces with their Ohio born "James Dean" quarterback: together, these men led this team down a path where they defied the odds, spat in the face of their detractors, and spray painted their names all over college football lore:
There were the corps of NFL-ready receivers running routes and catching anything that went up in the air as if they were playing in front of Randy Moss...and they were;
The maligned offensive line, full of badasses and vagabonds such as Austin Deculus, Lloyd Cushenberry, Badara Traore, Damien Lewis, Shaadiq Charles all suffered through hell until they elevated their play over the course of the offseason under O-line coach James Cregg, transforming into the greatest wall of protection college football has ever seen;
There was Dave Aranda's criticized defense, a unit chock full of NFL talent who had to sit and listen to the entire known sporting world regurgitating the same rhetoric about a "weak LSU defense that'll cost them big" while ignoring their litany of injuries across the front and secondary to key guys.
However, anyone who was actually paying attention
could see this was a scary good defense capable of only being gassed by their own quarterback and the pace of LSU's drives, proving that statement as they out-lasted and controlled Clemson, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and UGA...while at 50-70% capabilities!
Imagine how much better this defense would've been with a healthy Grant Delpit, Rashard Lawrence, the absent Michael Divinity Jr or hampered K'Lavon Chaisson?
After the last four games, how much better could a defense be?
These guys were already 1st & 2nd Round NFL Draft picks...this was never just about offense.
This was a complete team that'll be remembered alongside the 2001/2002 Miami Hurricanes' roster, with players across the board who'll have far more projected success in the NFL.
Although regarding pure accomplishment, no team will ever come close to this LSU Tigers unit.
Beating 7 Top ten teams, all except Oklahoma winning a bowl game and finishing with a collective winning percentage of 65%. Among those teams, LSU beat the last 4 national champions and another unit, UGA, who made the 2018 title game;
They beat 5 of the top 20 defenses in the final rankings, putting up 40 points on 3 of them, and faced three #1 ranked defenses at the time of kickoff, dominating top opponents and proving to be far more cunning than #8 Auburn's Kevin Steele, #4 UGA's Kirby Smart or #3 Clemson's Brent Venables could've anticipated, tripling the amount of points their defenses allowed in those games, while Burrow's stratospheric football IQ punished every possible scheme.
You've heard all the stats, you've seen all the games, hopefully...just judge for your own eyes rather than Stephen A Smith or Drew Rosenhaus or Michael Douglas's murderous pizza boy brother:
...you know for a fact this team was the greatest to ever strap em on...after decades of swimming in alcoholic punishment, even Vince Vaughn knows this!
Even Donald Trump is under the delusion that he's as cool as Joe Burrow...
This team's connection to our current national orbit is as American as success and failure, Lou Pearlman owning the Dallas Cowboys, or Simon and Garfunkel.
If you're a willing, faceless contrarian and still hold fast to the belief that Ohio State was the best team in the country or that LSU will never deserve the respect and the titles they've earned, let this sink in...let this list remind you as final evidence.
No apologies coming from us Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama fans...just read em and weep...and remember:
BURROW'S FULL MOON / TOUGHEST TEST???
vs MISS ST & AUBURN (10/19/19-10/26/19)
Throughout 2019 we just couldn't get enough of Burrow:
We watched his workouts, his warmups, poured over every interview...but against Mississippi State this season became far more revealing than ever before...
On October 19th, Mississippi State were being methodically dispatched by Joe Burrow and co with the game going according to the Tigers' typical early lead pattern. Suddenly, as if the game was directed by the Farrely Brothers, we saw more of Joe than we may have wanted to:
In the 4th quarter, with LSU orchestrating patient play and longer drives to gas the strong, versatile Miss State front seven, we saw Burrow escape from the pocket and start to scramble up field with lineman Chauncey Rivers draped all over him.
As Joe ran, the lineman's grasp slipped and his hands almost tore off Burrow's yellow pants on his way down, with an all access pass to #9's ass now hanging out for CBS's national audience to see...and we would've had to hide our eyes from a lot more had he decided to keep running into open field: Burrow only giving up out of fear of public nudity.
It's okay, Joe, it was slightly colder that day.
THE TOUGHEST TEST???
The next weekend, during a hearty bloodbath on a balmy October afternoon in the SEC, #8 Auburn and Kevin Steele's top ranked defense orchestrated the best game-plan of anyone against Joe Burrow and these LSU Tigers:
Although the Ensminger/Brady/Burrow-led offense racked up in excess of 500 yards, LSU scored their fewest points of the season as Steele's group became the only team to hold these bloodhounds under 30 points all year.
Auburn's Gus Malzahn and now former LSU DC Dave Aranda's chess match completed what was an all-around thrill-fest in the Bayou: one that featured hard hits, gutty touchdown runs from Edwards-Helaire and Joe Burrow, and bruising efficiency from the Tigers' defense.
This early season SEC West clash was a primal bludgeoning, one which the Tigers passed by more comfortable margins than the final 23-20 score indicates (thanks to a last second "Alabama Tigers" touchdown).
Due to the 3 point win (LSU's smallest margin of victory) and Kevin Steele's miraculous defense, led by versatile D-lineman Derrick Brown, the 2019 LSU v Auburn match-up will long be known as the toughest test the high powered 2019/20 LSU Tigers offense had to face.
HIRING OF JOE BRADY
After the 29-0 shutout to Alabama in 2018, Coach Orgeron knew something had to change...and fast.
Orgeron went to offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and told him "we need to go to the spread and give Joe the keys to the car", followed by O pursuing his connections from within the New Orleans Saints.
He asked to do walk throughs with the Saints' offense and staff...just to make things crisper as they adapted to the new spread / West Coast-ingrained attack.
It was during this walk through when 29 year old Joe Brady caught the eye of Orgeron and Ensminger:
They witnessed former William & Mary receiver Joe Brady challenging LSU's star receivers and talking trash with a youthful exuberance. He also showed them a new first step technique that would make them unstoppable.
Wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph, offensive assistant Jorge Munoz, and Steve Ensminger generated a rapport immediately with the 29 year old assistant and didn't need to convince Coach Orgeron to steal Brady out from under Sean Payton.
Regardless of Joe Brady's importance throughout the Tigers' 2019 run, the majority of analysts and fans remain confused as to Brady's role in the offense.
Unequivocally, Steve Ensminger called the plays, bolstered by input from Jorge Munoz, Joe Brady, as well as the quarterback Mr. Joe Burrow; Brady was the passing game coordinator and helped coach the receivers alongside Mickey Joseph. Because of LSU's aerial dominance, the new Panthers offensive coordinator became the first Tigers assistant since John Chavis to win the Broyles Award.
Though Brady's Broyles Award made more sense as a shared award with OC Ensminger, what Brady brought to the Tigers was an enthusiastic, bombastic new attitude that took all the talent, athleticism and energy of every past great LSU receiver and added the finesse and agility of Chase, Jefferson and Marshall to the already-unstoppable gumbo.
Indeed, Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Terrace Marshall, Clyde Edwards-Helaire outta the backfield, and Thad Moss were better than any previous LSU receiving corps before...and you'd be playing with fire to assume Joe Brady had nothing to do with it.
However...I have a big question for all you readers:
Would this LSU team have won the national championship without Joe Brady?
Was he so integral to our success that we don't even beat Bama or Clemson without Brady?
As important to our staff as Joe Brady was, Steve Ensminger had already advanced the offense to a higher octane than previously before....with both the 72 point and 40 point efforts vs A&M and UCF occurring before Brady's hire.
We were going to win this thing regardless; what Brady provided was the extra mileage on the stats which delighted us all, his youth reinforcing the "pedal to the metal" virtues of these 2019/20 LSU Tigers, and raising every offensive player's draft stock by millions of dollars each.
Though we couldn't agree with the gross timing of Brady's ascent to NFL coordinatorship less than 24 hours after winning the national title, we understood why he did it.
Now we'll find out just how good Brady is at his new gig in Carolina, Brady trading head coach Matt Rhule for Steve Ensminger and quarterback Kyle Allen or Cam Newton for Joe Burrow.
Because of this personnel switch, expect a big dropoff in Brady's success in 2020, though if he can pull it off again he'd solidify his place as one of the best young coordinators in the game.
42 POINTS IN 48 PLAYS
VS FLORIDA (10/12/19)
While the evisceration of Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl had us all in rapture, and the defiance in the title game solidifed and furthered LSU's greatness, true offensive junkies looked no further than the the backyard QB street fight vs Florida in Death Valley as the game to get the blood pumping.
The breathtaking track meet displayed pure efficiency and tempo, LSU operating as close to offensive perfection as possible, even to the point they forced Kyle Trask to throw the football with more poise and accuracy than we could've imagined Trask was capable...
...all just to keep up with Joe.
Against the Gators, LSU started fast and kept their foot on full throttle, blowing the doors off a 28-21 3rd quarter deficit with touchdowns so quick we wondered if an arena league team had stolen the home whites:
It took a total of 10 minutes and 20 seconds for LSU to amass 48 points on a top 10 defense during a primetime SEC matchup...for true LSU fans (who's hatred for anything Florida knows no bounds)...this was ecstasy.
The wild victory over the Gators featured massive plays from The Continuing Legend Of Clyde Edwards-Helaire,
#22 running for two long, ridiculous touchdowns; Joey Burrow tossed countless bombs to J'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, as well as a squeaker in the corner of the end zone to the Chris Carter-esque Jefferson (#2 tapdancing and kicking the pylon into the photographers on his way to the ground).
At some point in the 2nd half, while freshman Ty Davis-Price's first carry from scrimmage found him untouched and standing in the end zone, it seemed as if every time Joe Burrow touched the football, whoever he gave it to would add 7 points on the board, automatically...like we were viewing a video game simulation.
With 5 scoring drives under 2 minutes and 10 seconds and another "methodical" drive of 3:42, Joe Burrow wanted to make sure Florida fans remembered him...and he's still the phantasm that haunts their nightmares.