FEINSWOG: Cancel that<br>Jan. trip to Miami

Imagine all those phone calls on Saturday afternoon.

"Yeah, I know my flight from Baton Rouge to Miami is non-refundable. But can't we work something out?"


Forget it. The airlines are tough these days, tougher even than knowing that you'll be playing a bowl game in Shreveport or Nashville a year after competing for a national championship.


The good thing there is you can drive.


Bottom lines:


Three years ago LSU had a dream season when everything fell into place and the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and went to the Sugar Bowl and dismantled Illinois to finish 10-3. The thought here was that was the kind of season that comes along once every 15 years or so.


The next year, 2002, LSU took a step back, finishing 8-5 with that disappointing whipping by Texas in the Cotton Bowl.


Last year, you thought LSU would be good. National-championship good? No one in their right mind would have bet the farm on it. But everything again fell into place to the nth degree, including an almost injury-free season, as the Tigers won it all.


Think about what's happened since. The best player on the best LSU team in history, receiver Michael Clayton, did as expected and went to the NFL. The experienced and efficient quarterback, Matt Mauck, also left early – albeit as a 26-year-old – for the NFL. Remember that both of those guys could still be wearing the purple and gold.


So, too, could Marquise Hill, the dope who changed his mind and then wanted to stay another year at LSU but was tainted by an agent and had to go.


Combine those with the usual losses to graduation and a team that coach Nick Saban said showed up in August not in tip-top shape, and, well, what did you expect?


LSU fans, of course, expected more than they've gotten. They didn't expect the Oregon State debacle. They didn't expect to score 9 points at Auburn. And they didn't expect the 45-16 butt-kicking they received Saturday at Georgia.


Saban made another preseason observation about this year's sophomores, a group that as freshmen played surprisingly key roles in the run to the title.


He claimed they were like kids who won the lottery, because all the players who did the work in the two or three previous years set the stage for them to just come in and take home the hardware.


It's not that simple, of course, but take Saturday, for example: Justin Vincent, MVP of last year's SEC- and national-championship games, rushed for 2 yards. Alley Broussard had 45. He may not have been talking about them specifically, but 47 yards rushing between your two go-to guys won't beat anyone, much less Georgia.


Put sophomore place-kickers Chris Jackson and Ryan Gaudet in that group, too. The whole extra-point thing is beyond anyone's imagination and too frustrating to delve into here.


Anyway, no one would argue that the offensive line has been suspect. The quarterbacks posted good numbers Saturday, but 16 points is just 16 points, especially when the last six came long after the game was decided. It would have been seven, but – you've gotta be kidding – Jackson missed another extra-point try.


Sophomore of the year? Laron Landry, who led LSU in tackles last season and is right up there again this year.


People who know such things said in their preseason predictions that LSU would go 9-2, winning all seven games at home and splitting their four road ventures. Now that the Tigers are 0-2 on the road and go to Florida this week, with a regular-season-ending trip to Little Rock to face Arkansas ahead, 9-2 seems unlikely.


About as unlikely as getting your money back for a January flight to Miami.




Lee Feinswog is the author of "Tales From The LSU Sidelines," a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.

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