by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
With one LSU head coach leading the Tigers out for a final time, right when reports of his replacement's identity swirl, while legendary DT Glenn Dorsey is about to be honored as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, as Austin Deculus becomes the first Tiger to play in 60 games (starting 45 times), all as some of the final vestiges of LSU's 2019 team prepare for their last stand at Death Valley, it's safe to say Saturday night's atmosphere for LSU vs Texas A&M will be wild.
Milestones are all over the place coming into Saturday, pages turning, wheels churning, ins, outs, what's-it-all-abouts: the truth of LSU's future will be hovering within the mist hanging above Tigers Stadium.
There's a long list of Tigers playing their final game this Saturday night, inside the madcap feverdome of Death Valley against eternal enemies Texas A&M. The list includes a bunch of major stalwarts who appeared in 2018's 7 OT epic, stood in awe as Burrow became Burreaux before the world, then they played through the raging pandemic, opt-outs, transfers & bad headlines of last season's near shutout:
Seniors / Draft-eligible OL Austin Deculus is about to hit that aforementioned historic 60 appearance mark, Butkus finalist & LSU LB Legend Damone Clark began the season as one of the most vilified Tigers & ended 2021 as a universally respected hero; DT Neil Farrell Jr is looking to cap his greatest season with another great outing vs A&M; Safety Cam Lewis enjoyed his own strongest campaign, desecrating an Alabama QB on his way out; the likely NFL-bound Cordale Flott had ups & downs over 3 seasons, but displayed his mental toughness during an elite junior year, rebounding from a catastrophic 2020;
The iconic "Joker" Glen Logan will finally end his near 6 1/2 year run at LSU on a high; previously a fringe squad man, DE Soni Fonua's stock rose ever higher over the past few games, proving to NFL scouts that he can play LB, DT or DE adequately;
Liam Shanahan was, if anything, a durable center, even despite the criticism; LG Chasen Hines' high or low profile leaves his pro future up in the air; Micah Baskerville leaves a LB Hero at LSU, a beacon of consistency and aggression;
WR Jontre Kirklin ends his 6 year run in a weird state: although he had a 213 yard performance in the Spring Game, Jontre never quite delivered on his speedy, versatile promise (capable of returning kicks / punts, plus able to take snaps at QB, RB, CB and WR), yet he still leaves as one of our favorite Tigers personally over the past few years;
Kicker Cade York was college football's best kicker for 3 straight seasons, beginning his LSU Odyssey as a freshman on the undefeated 2019 team before kicking a 57 yard hole in Gator hearts (or shoes) last year, York sealed his greatness with another huge junior campaign;
Kicker / Punter / "Occasional Passer" Avery Atkins returned for one last go-around and was rewarded with the #18 jersey & two trick play pass attempts, completing one against Alabama to Jack Mashburn for 26 yards;
Safety Todd Harris departs with some bittersweet regrets following a major injury which curtailed his 2019 experience, slowed him down during 2020 as an inconsistent starter, and left his final year of eligibility amid injury upheaval;
Senior Bowl Invitee OG Ed Ingram leaves for the NFL Draft as one of LSU's most talented OL of the 21st century, even while failing to give maximum effort during some games this year......
And of course.....
It'll be the final game of Coach Ed Orgeron's dramatic tenure, which was at times triumphant, on other occasions tumultuous.
However, what cannot be denied???
Orgeron stood as the Head Coach of college football's greatest team of all time.....whatever has happened, regardless of how many will feel one way or another, Coach O deserves a proper send-off.
While all of this nostalgia is going on, there will be swirling whispers growing into bellowing shrieks (mostly from Norman) regarding the identity of LSU's next head coach, and so it begins:
During the 2021 edition of LSU vs Texas A&M, the atmosphere will be much like 2015....just on steroids:
The occasion will be marked by a naked collision of past, present and future Tiger consciousness running itself wild on the final Saturday night of the season.....a bridge between eras being forged one plank at a time; memories of our G.O.A.T team begin to fade until we sense the past's decaying betrayal, a tough current season full of injuries, bad headlines, the pain of close defeat to Alabama, Auburn & Arkansas, as well as the ass-kicking of a blowout vs UCLA or Kentucky, combined with future reflections of championship contention emanating from the blood borne visage of 2022's expected leaders Boutte, Max Johnson, TDP, Ojulari, Bech, McGlothern, Roy...etc....it might be too much for the non-obsessive mind.
Facing Coach Ed Orgeron for a final bout, the man most national big wigs believed would be LSU's next head coach, Jimbo Fisher, guides his 8-3 Aggies to Baton Rouge for the first time since Joe Burrow leveled A&M to a pile of miniscule filth in 2019...perhaps small enough to fit inside their 74-72 cups???
Though Jimbo edges Orgeron in their series lead (2-1, since 2018), following big wins over #1 Alabama during a 41-38 classic or their defeat of #12 Auburn, Fisher's team collapsed against Ole Miss, & consecutive defeats to Arkansas or Miss St. Overall, Jimbo's club have been good, not great throughout 2021.
At 5-6, LSU should have beaten Alabama, too....without an OL, playing a freshman at QB, missing 8 defensive starters as well as the best WR in college football, etc.........so, I give credit for the A&M win over Bama, but I won't deify their efforts, not after three defeats which exposed their many flaws.
Tossing 14 TDs and 9 picks, A&M QB Zach Calzada has had moments of brilliance backed by scenarios of complete WTF, sometimes wrapped within the same play sequence.
It would be remarkable if Calzada could even threaten, let alone hurt LSU's Dwight McGlothern or Cordale Flott through the air; LSU's secondary is still DBU, even without Stingley or Ricks; with McGlothern grabbing a pick six vs Florida, a near INT TD return by Jay Ward against ULM, and both Baskerville & Clark intercepting passes, LSU's defense continue to prove to be just as dangerous over the past 5 games as they were with both All-American cornerbacks..
LSU's Max Johnson gained confidence with his 319 yards and 2 TDs vs ULM, but still the disgraceful manner in which Jake Peetz's offense ground viewers into submission leaves many worrying signs for tomorrow night.
So....what happens vs A&M???
TUNE IN TONIGHT @ 7PM CENTRAL FOR OUR A&M PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS SHOW ON OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL & LSUODYSSEY.COM.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: DON CANNON, DUCHESS, CHOKE, ADAM....LET'S GEAUX YA'LL!!!!
WALKER HOWARD IS ABOUT TO ERASE E.D WHITE TONIGHT!