ANALYSIS: Getting to 12-0

A "one week at a time" mentality kept LSU undefeated through a treacherous schedule.

For the first time in program history, LSU completed a regular season with a 12-0 record.

Given the teams the Tigers have played and the outcome of those games, the media is drumming up the notion that this might be one of the best performances in the history of college football.

After LSU did away with Arkansas to finish the regular season undefeated, a national writer asked Miles if this were the best team to ever suit up on a college field.

Typical of the Mad Hatter, Miles sidestepped the question and moved on.

But how did the Tigers get to here?

Talented? Absolutely.

But talent alone doesn't carry teams to national championships – or SEC Championship Games, for that matter.

It's a combination of a lot of things, but one of the most important – especially given a schedule like LSU's – might be focus.

Learning how to take things one week at a time.

"That's our mentality," junior wide receiver Rueben Randle said.

Sophomore safety Eric Reid can recall the moment the mantra hit home.

"At the beginning of the season I remember looking at the schedule and saying, ‘Wow, this will be a tough one,' " Reid said. "You take it one game at a time, and things will fall in place if you keep winning. That's all you can do."

With pre-season chatter that the Tigers, despite a daunting schedule, had a chance to run the gauntlet and wind up in New Orleans for the BCS National Championship, the veterans on the team took charge.

Under their watch, nobody would stray from the plan of staying collected and only focusing on the next game – not one on Nov. 5, for instance.

"We knew the talent we had here, so if we put it together then it would be something special," Randle said.

Senior linebacker Ryan Baker went as far as calling a team meeting before the Oregon game.

"I sat everybody down and told them how much I wanted a ring," he said. "Every week, guys like Alfred Blue remind me of what is attainable and the whole goal. They are doing everything possible to help me get that.

"We had a clear goal set. It's so close to us now. We are ready for it."

When asked for specifics on how the team remained focused during the season, two main themes dominated the responses from players.

It began with a close watch from the coaching staff, and then trickled down to those daily reminders of "one game at a time."

"It's credit to our coaching staff, they have done a great job of getting us in and getting the job done and then getting focused on the next team," senior offensive guard Will Blackwell said. "We just took it one week at a time."

How often did the players get that daily reminder?

"The whole year," junior cornerback Morris Claiborne said." Since week one, that has been what we have been telling each other. You can't look over anyone in this league. Everyone is good."

Of course, there were Saturdays where it appeared the team had lost focus – even if it were just for a quarter. But in that quarter, there was the passing notion that the Tigers could be derailed from the ultimate goal.

"We strayed away in certain weeks," sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu said. "But we knew we had a tough schedule, and we definitely played a lot of dominant opponents. I think it was hard.

"It's about us staying focused on the goal, and that's being champions of the SEC."

As the dust from the season settles, it's clear the Tigers –after all the buildup – will likely be playing for a couple of championships over the next month and a half.

For a team that has had its nose to the grindstone since a trip to Arlington, Texas, to face Oregon in September, the idea of everything coming to fruition is just now beginning to sink in.

"After the (Arkansas) game we were in the locker room celebrating, and it hit everyone that we were undefeated," Randle said.


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