LSU Tigers and The New Orleans Saints: Expectations and Realties


It would seem that the South Louisiana football season is off to a good start. The New Orleans Saints, coming off  last year’s Super Bowl Championship are 2-0, with wins over two solid, yet flawed, football teams. The LSU Tigers are experiencing success too it would seem. Having played three decent teams, and won all three games, two in decisive fashion. However, despite this success, my guess is that if you were to gauge fan perception of the start to the two seasons, you’d have some pretty nervous bases.

Regarding the Saints, it’s pretty easy to see why there’s some wondering on behalf of the Who Dat nation. The Saints have looked mortal on offense in their first two games, averaging just 19.5 points a contest, albeit against to very sold defenses. Thus far, there just hasn’t been that explosion from the Black and Gold, and for a group of fans that are used to seeing the score board lit up, it’s an adjustment.

As for LSU, the problems run a little deeper. Most Tiger fans believe that the team’s problems on offense could be an ominous sign of trouble as the schedule gets rougher. As a matter of fact, that trouble could begin as early as Saturday, when the West Virginia Mountaineers make their way into Tiger Stadium. Against a team as potent as WVU, LSU will have to find more of an offensive punch, if for no other reason than to keep WVU off of the field. Thus far this season, that offensive punch has not been there. The boys have played hard, but erratically. The big plays have been few and far between, and there seems to be a major waste of talent happening when you look at what LSU has personnel wise, versus what they are producing on the stat sheets.

Fans of both teams have specific expectations that are contrasted by some very specific realities. In the case of The Saints, most fans aren’t still quite over the sight of seeing the Lombardi trophy raised, and practically passed around the entire Gulf Coast region. They see a relatively young, super elite Quarterback, paired with visionary coach and a defense that consistently plays insanely inspired high risk, high reward football. What the current Saints fan sees is a shot at longevity. This is the chance to permanently reverse 40 years of mediocrity. It’s a chance to stay on top for a while, to create something that has never existed in New Orleans Saints football; a culture of winning. This opportunity is met with trepidation, a cautionary instinct that exists inside of all Saints fans warning them not to get their hopes too far up, because the ceiling is going to cave in. For that reason, the team NEEDS to stay competitive, and CAN NOT fall back to the pack. So what looks like just a slow offensive start to most observes, can look like the sky is falling to some Saints fans.

With LSU, it’s a little different, a little more intense, and a lot more complicated. The Tigers DO have tradition, but most would argue it’s not what it should be. Let’s go back two decades to the nineties. What do players like Warrick Dunn, Marshall Faulk, Kordell Stewart, Travis Minor, Major Applewhite, Peyton Manning, Ed Reed and Reggie Wayne have in common besides thier standout college careers? They are ALL native Louisianans and NONE of them attended LSU. Not coincidentally, LSU was in a downturn for most of that decade. Louisiana is a football mecca. Per capita, the state puts more people in the NFL than any other state in the union. With one flagship school, LSU should be competitive year in and year out and every Tiger fan knows it. If the program is down, the fans begin to think one of two things, either the program isn’t trying hard enough, or they’re stupid. Last decade LSU managed to get most of the talent here to stay home. If you look at the league now, Craig Davis, Early Doucet, Bradie James, Jacob Hester, Glenn Dorsey, Laron Landry, and Marcus Spears are all from Louisiana and all attended LSU. This, more than anything, more than that defensive genius who now wears crimson, is why those two trophies are in the case. Sure, credit Saban for keeping guys in state, but those players, the ones from schools like John Curtis, Catholic High and West Monroe are the ones that keep LSU relevant. All they truly need is competent caretakers, and enough polish in the AD’s office to keep the Purple and Gold shinning.

The realities for both squads are simple; there is no ceiling on what either can do, but each team has to find that spark. The Saints will, that much is for sure. There’s simply too much firepower and expertise on the offensive side of the ball for that unit to continue to put up pedestrian numbers. Whether or not they get back to the Super Bowl is too tough to forecast, but the makeup of the team suggests that they definitely can. They walk and talk like the champions they are, and they totally believe in the scheme and mettle of their head coach. The Saints will be there. That culture has been changed.

For LSU, that spark might me harder to find. The squad is flush with as much talent as any in the nation, but for some reason, that same amount of belief doesn’t seem to be there. Right now, the team doesn’t move with that snap, or walk with that championship swag, at least on offense. The defense plays like a bunch of crazed maniacs looking to devour whatever entity has the ball. They play with the desire and intensity of champions. The light is on with them. On O, coordinator Gary Crowton is still looking for the switch. Sloppy routes, poor passing precision and bad protection plague the offense right now, and for that to change the team has to start believing in the scheme and in the staff running it. If they ever do, if they wake up, if LSU ever puts this thing together as an entire unit, they could be a real force. This Saturday will be a big moment to see if they get it.