By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
By Thursday at LSU, you've been through the grind of Monday's intense truths, Tuesday's ultra-feast practices against the best collegiate football players in the world, Wednesday's obsession with turnovers...now you've made it to the final hurdle before gameday:
NO REPEAT THURSDAY is generally about making sure you handle the details, leaving nothing to chance, assessing every scenario and preparing for whatever may arise within the gameplan: Once the final whistle is blown on Saturday, you don't get a do-over.
But for this season, we're renaming the day, Coach...sorry:
We're calling it "WE WILL REPEAT" THURSDAY from now on... The players must not only crystallize their mistakes in their minds, they must also hold onto their personal victories or ambition.
This team already understands the profound target on their backs in 2020:
No other team will have more cheering for their demise than 2020 LSU...for the first time ever, our Tigers are more despised than Alabama and our players feel this ominous wave of rampant media criticism tumbling their way.
There has never been a team who humiliated so many opponents to the degree of 2019 LSU, all during one single season of vendetta payback so vicious and brutal you'd think Mel Gibson would've signed on to direct.
The Tigers torched everyone in their path, dropping 46 at Alabama, dismissing Georgia as if they were a mosquito on Kevin James' ass, obliterating A&M until the Aggies' 74-72 cups were over-filled in their own blood, sparring for 3 quarters vs the Gators until Ty Davis-Price's 26 yard rushing TD sealed the deal, making Oklahoma so desperate for a defense they tried to clone Brent Venables, and finally our guys slapped Clemson into silly submission, leaving only Tiger claw marks, A.J Terrell's tattered sanity and title ring-shaped bruises for Dabo's men to commemorate the event.
When I think of NO REPEAT THURSDAY (or as we call it here WE WILL REPEAT THURSDAY) I think "at their core right now, with only 2 days until kickoff, what kind of team do we have on our hands this season?
There is some repeating of history here: while much of the mainstream college football media harp on LSU's loss of championship personnel, they also seem to forget just how many strong leaders, trench warriors and unsung badasses still remain on the squad from our 2019 team....brilliant players who haven't even hit their peak yet.
From the legendary 2017 class alone, QB Myles Brennan, SS #7 Jacoby Stevens, TE/DE Aaron Moffitt, G Ed Ingram, RT Austin Deculus, WR Racey McMath, DT Glen Logan, DT Neil Farrell, LB Carlton Smith, DE Andre Anthony, DT Tyler Shelvin (if returning), FS Todd Harris, SS Cam Lewis, LB Ray Thornton and WR Jontre Kirklin were all freshmen in 2017...
Possessing such obvious depth, championship experience, a cutting edge mentality solidified by 2019, and bristling NFL-ready talent everywhere you look, we have some news for anyone expecting the absence of every great Tiger on roster:
If last year wasn't the time for Racey McMath, Todd Harris or Myles Brennan, it was only because 2019 was meant for Ja'Marr & Justin, K'Lavon or Joe...
Many of these 2020 survivors from the 2019 team / 2017 class had the talent to play in the NFL this season...yet there's unfinished business across the board for Brennan, McMath, Kirklin, Harris, etc...
There isn't any glaring deficiencies from these 2020 starters, at least none that we didn't see from Joe, Chase, Jefferson, Delpit or Chaisson at this point last summer.
Some will react "hey dood, these 2020 guys are unproven, though! You can't say they're as talented as the 2019 Tigers!"
I'm not meaning to geaux down THAT rabbit hole, I'm merely saying our 2019 Tigers have the advantage of already playing their ultimate season as starters and squad alphas, even Terrace Marshall, Jacoby Stevens especially, or Derek Stingley Jr have little left to prove...
...Right now is simply 2020's turn as the next batch of high octane Tigers.
So....collecting a group of experienced 2017 leaders, LSU will have a core of hard nosed elder statesmen, yet we grow even more excited when gauging the experience of our younger guys:
Sophomores Derek Stingley Jr, Terrace Marshall Jr, Apu Ika, Cordale Flott, Jay Ward, Mo Hampton, our sophomore trio of RBs Davis-Price, Curry, Emery and standout WR Trey Palmer all received huge opportunities in big games across the 2019 campaign.
Both Stingley and Marshall set records for interceptions and TD catches by a freshman Tiger (6 INTs, 13 TDs);
RB Chris Curry buried Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl for 90 yards and wears #18 at such a young age;
Mo Hampton started vs Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas and played much of the title game vs Clemson;
Ty Davis-Price rebounded from an unsportsmanlike penalty vs Auburn, treading Florida under his wheels as he scored the game-winner;
Cordale Flott has already secured the opposite CB job and DTs Apu Ika or Joe Evans are poised to make fans forget about Tyler Shelvin's absence.
Juniors such as #18 Damone Clark will provide stability, ingenuity and breathtaking instincts at linebacker, waiting his turn for 2 years under the tutelage of Devin White (Clark grabbed a ridiculous 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks while appearing from the bench in 2019...finishing with a half sack more than any Tigers' D-lineman).
We must include LSU's repeat of their 2018 / 2019 transfer portal greatness, adding Jabril Cox and Liam Shanahan this summer, each already becoming bona-fied starters and leaders for Orgeron's squad.
There is a whole lotta repetition geauxing on...and while our Tigers are focusing on the errors they'll need to correct, we're keeping our eyes glued to the possibility of a 2019 deja vu....
Regardless of the negativity from college football's headline-humping / cliffnotes-brained laziness, 2020 LSU holds all the ingredients for a historic championship team....and I'm going to prove it to you:
How many analysts outside of Baton Rouge could've even conceived Ja'Marr Chase (who suffered injury problems his freshman season) would finish 2019 as the Biletnikoff recipient, catching 20 TDs and skewering multiple Top 10 teams for over 200+ receiving yards??
Better question: How many of these anti-SEC / anti-LSU elitists even knew of Ja'Marr Chase's existence?
The resounding answer?
None of these elitists ever heard of Terrace Marshall or Justin Jefferson, let alone Ja'Marr Chase!
Who among us were aware of Joe Burrow's calculating brutality and elegant omnipotence? Who predicted his Heisman or believed 60 touchdown passes was possible in the SEC?
Which big time SEC Network analysts were expecting 2019 LSU's offensive line to win the Joe Moore Award? Who was calling for numerous O-line draft picks after watching Burrow continuously bruised and abused by D-lines all throughout 2018?
It happens every season...unexpected Tigers will rise, repeating 2019's juggernaut origami of studs, stars and soldiers of Bayou fortune.
Our current crop of incendiary specimen isn't an entirely new scenario for this program...but thanks to Coach O's regime, our coaching / support staff now understand how to make the most of LSU's stacked talent.
The same analysts who are picking Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma or Clemson as their College Football Playoff teams (for the 6th year running) all embarrassingly dismissed the Tigers...both 2019 and 2020 editions:
"Last year was nothing more than a Pyrrhic fluke...this will be the season where we find out just how good Orgeron is"...etc after etc...repeating their gibberish over and over all off-season for the second straight year.
These are hilarious excuses from conferences, teams or coaches who had their 2019 asses handed to them on a pike, not only by Joe Burrow and co, but most of our current squad.
Those dismissive comments about 2019 or 2020 LSU are common fears spoken aloud from opponents too terrified to face the reality staring us all in the face:
I repeat, Orgeron's current group should be more capable of repeating in 2020 than our 2019 team were at demoralizing the entirety of college football.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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