- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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A source told The Associated Press that defensive back Tharold Simon is also suspended.
The LSU student newspaper, The Daily Reveille, first reported Wednesday that according to a source, Mathieu and Ware both failed drug tests and that the disciplinary action could turn into multiple-game suspensions.
The loss of these players makes Saturday's game with Auburn a little more interesting. Not having to throw against Mathieu will be a big relief for Auburn's Clint Moseley, who is set to make his first start in place of Barrett Trotter. Mathieu has been LSU's most productive defensive player this season, collecting 42 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, grabbing two interceptions, forcing four fumbles and recovering three and returning two for scores.
Beyond Mathieu's stats, he is the heart and soul of LSU's defense. He absolutely flies around the field, is a ball hawk at the nickel position and has a tremendous knack for finding the ball no matter where it is on the field.
Simon is a player the LSU coaches have been extremely excited about this season. He is fourth on the team with 29 tackles and has an interception this season. While Mathieu and Morris Claiborne have gotten most of the attention at the cornerback spot, some feel Simon might be just as good as them in the coverage department.
As for Ware, he has proved to be a major element in LSU's offense because of his downhill running style. He leads the team with 512 yards and has six touchdowns. While the Tigers do have Michael Ford and Alfred Blue to carry the load, Ware is the battering ram of this offense.
Above just losing bodies on the field, this is yet another distraction LSU has to deal with. At the beginning of the season, LSU faced the messes surrounding quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard. The Tigers didn't falter with either out of the lineup and showed great focus with both suspended.
But that was when the Tigers weren't the No. 1 team in the country. Now, LSU is right at the center of all the national championship talk, and all eyes are on this program.
And now, eyes are on LSU for the wrong reasons because of selfish acts by three players who mean a great deal to this team.
Mathieu's name has been thrown into the Heisman discussion because of his tenacious play on defense, but this suspension could halt that talk -- which might be a blessing for him at this point. More importantly, it could hurt his reputation as a leader. Players look up to him though he's just a sophomore. Like Jefferson, who was booed by LSU's home crowd when he made his season debut against Kentucky, he was expected to be a true leader of this team.
He made an egregious mistake when he put himself over his team.
LSU probably will be fine against Auburn without these three, but if their suspensions stretch beyond that, we won't see them against Alabama on Nov. 5. Not having them for the trip to Tuscaloosa will be absolutely damaging to this team. Not only will the Tigers be without three talented players, but you'll have to wonder about the mindset of this team heading into that matchup having to think about losing three players because of boneheaded mistakes.
Coach Les Miles must not only rally his players -- again -- but he has to send a stronger message to his team, letting it know that incidents such as these won't be tolerated.
Linebacker Ryan Baker told me over the summer that it was national championship or bust for LSU this season. This is not what national championship teams can afford to go through.