Friday, September 4, 2009
LSU's trip was long, but not as long as last season
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
The monotonous part of the trip is over for LSU; the marathon plane ride.
The Tigers are already in Seattle for their Saturday night contest against Washington at Husky Stadium. They flew in Thursday night for what will be the longest road trip in school history.
And in case you missed it, LSU coach Les Miles said they’ve gone as far as to consult with sleep experts to make sure the players get their proper rest a couple of time zones away.
“They tell us they’re going to give us a handbook that tells us when we’re supposed to sleep and when we’re not supposed to sleep,” said senior offensive tackle Ciron Black, sounding like the last thing on his mind would be jet lag out in the Great Pacific Northwest.
Nope, what he can’t get out of his mind is the way it all unraveled for the Tigers last season.
“Last year, that was not us. That’s not the way we play,” Black said. “We’ve still got that chip on our shoulder, and it’s been there all spring and all summer. That’s been good for us.”
It’s a reminder for every coach and every player on this team of just how quickly it can change in the SEC.
The Tigers were basking in a national championship to kick off the 2008 calendar year. They limped to the finish of the 2008 season later that calendar year and were being hailed as one of the most underachieving teams in the country.
A lot has changed since then.
Miles replaced his co-defensive coordinators with John Chavis, the longtime defensive coordinator at Tennessee. Sophomore Jordan Jefferson steps in as the full-time starter at quarterback after taking over for Jarrett Lee at the end of last season, and the Tigers are incorporating a couple of new wrinkles into their offense.
The one everybody on the Bayou can’t wait to see is freshman Russell Shepard, who may run it, catch it and throw it Saturday night against Washington.
Black is as eager as the next person to see Shepard shake loose in the open field, but he’s also ready just to line up and hit somebody.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Black, the SEC’s best left tackle. “I’ve been saying it since Jan. 1. We want to show everybody the way we play football. Of course, we’ve got a lot of run and gun in there, but I’m ready to run power right up the middle and show them how we play football.
“They say we don’t have the same offensive line without Herman [Johnson] and Brett [Helms], but we’ve got a couple of guys who can come off the ball and hit you in your mouth.”