Wednesday, November 30, 2011
LSU completely focused on SEC title
By Edward Aschoff
Since LSU’s 41-17 win over Arkansas, most of the chatter has centered around how the Tigers could lose to Georgia in Atlanta but still play in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.
Basically, LSU just needs to not be blown out by the red-hot Bulldogs.
Spencer Ware and the Tigers are focused on the conference championship before anything else.
No one is expecting that, so it appears LSU fans can start booking their French Quarter hotel rooms -- if they haven’t done so already.
Still, anything can happen, and while LSU might be a shoo-in for the national championship, players aren’t worried about that. They aren’t looking to make the 500-plus-mile trek to Atlanta just to check out the Fox Theatre. Like the rest of the season, it’s business as usual for LSU.
“We've had a lot of people on the outside say a lot of different things,” LSU offensive lineman Will Blackwell said. “As you know, that hasn't really slowed us up, hasn't stopped us at all. We do a very good job around here keeping things on the outside on the perimeter and not letting them affect us in any way.”
Somehow, the Tigers have done a masterful job of not allowing off-the-field distractions ruin this season. From losing starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson for the first four games because of his role in a fight at an off-campus bar, to failed drug tests that resulted in one-game suspensions for three players, including starters Tyrann Mathieu, who was at one time near the top of the Heisman race, and Spencer Ware.
With every obstacle and distraction, the Tigers seem to get stronger, and while the national championship is the main goal, getting an SEC title is the immediate objective. Talk of them not focusing on that is almost silly.
“It is kind of weird. We don't look at it like that,” safety Brandon Taylor said. “That's kind of like a distraction to us, because if you win the SEC championship you get two rings, and that's what we've been playing for. It wouldn't feel as great going to the national championship if you don't win the SEC championship because we feel it's not right.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt isn’t expecting any sort of letdown from LSU. He could only envision it if there was a 100 percent guarantee that LSU would be in the national title game regardless of Saturday's outcome. However, with nothing written in ink, Richt isn’t holding out hope for an unfocused LSU team.
“I don't think it's going to be a factor at all, and I think that, when a team is as good as they are and are in the habit of winning, all they know is winning,” Richt said. “They're not going to let that creep in there in their mindset, I wouldn't think.”