Maybe it was the white headband still wrapped tightly around his scalp, but LSU quarterback Joe Burrow seemed to style himself as a Midwestern Rambo when asked about his penchant for running headlong into defenders after LSU’s 31-0 win over Southeastern on Saturday night.
Flushed from the pocket repeatedly, Burrow finished every impromptu rushing attempt by lowering his shoulder and plowing into a would-be tackler.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Burrow’s teammates must like the fact that they’ve got an ultra-competitive, fight-for-every-inch embodiment of Al Pacino’s speech in “Any Given Sunday” leading the offense, but Orgeron is more concerned with making sure his quarterback stays upright for the long haul.
“We have to protect him,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to have to teach him how to slide. We’re going to have to teach him how to avoid the rush and how to get down when he needs to, because I don’t think that’s something we need to be doing every down every snap when we have two quarterbacks.”
“For me and what I’ve seen, I think he should slide,” cornerback Greedy Williams added. “Can’t have him taking those type of hits as a quarterback. I’ll just have to talk to him and tell him, ‘You need to slide bro.’ Those hits, they hurt.”
While he may not have been aware of Orgeron’s comments, Burrow certainly didn’t seem interested in his proposed crash course in self-preservation.
“I’m not sliding,” Burrow said. “So you can book it, I’m not sliding.”
Perhaps his answer would have changed had he known his coach said literally the opposite 15 minutes earlier, but then again, maybe not. If you haven’t heard, Burrow really doesn’t like sliding.
Here’s a mini transcript of an exchange between the quarterback and local reporters postgame that illustrates just how averse to sliding Burrow is.
Question: ”So do you just hate to slide?”
Burrow: “I’m not a slider. Definitely not a slider.”
Question: “So you’re not even going to slide now that you’re in the SEC?”
Burrow: “Nah, I’m not going to slide.”
Question: “So in that situation you’re going to put your head down and run into someone?”
Burrow: “Yeah, of course. I’m not a slider. I told Coach (Steve Ensminger) and my teammates that I’m not a slider. They’ve never really believed me, I don’t think, but I don’t think that quarterbacks should slide. It’s not in my DNA.”
Question: “So if a 260-pound fast guy is coming at you, I guess there’s going to be a collision?”
Burrow: “Yes, there’s going to be a collision.”
Maybe it’s something in the water up there in the Midwest. Burrow’s predecessor, Danny Etling, who hailed from Indiana, also seemed to have no interest in giving himself up once the self-styled Vanilla Vick broke the pocket to run.
Of course there was the one time Etling did give himself up only to receive the most vicious hit he ever took as LSU’s quarterback.
Etling was making his second start as a Tiger and scrambled to his left in search of a first down. He tried to get down, but as he went to a knee two oncoming defenders drilled him in the side of the head with such force that his helmet popped off and his face was bleeding from multiple lacerations.
As fate would have it, that hit occurred during LSU’s loss at Auburn in 2016. Burrow’s next start will come on the Plains next Saturday night in LSU’s first trip back since that fateful night.
Talk about worlds — and, potentially, bodies — colliding.
- A workhorse emerging
Running back Nick Brossette turned in his second 125-plus-yard rushing effort in as many weeks against Southeastern, finishing with 19 carries for 137 yards.
The senior has rushed for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 41 carries through two weeks. Nobody else on the roster has totaled more than 16 carries for 51 yards, the stat line amassed to this point by co-starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Orgeron wasn’t quite ready to say LSU is ditching the backfield-by-committee approach it envisioned for this season, but he acknowledged the veteran tailback is perhaps becoming the residing chair of said committee.
“We’re still going to use both backs,” Orgeron said. “He’s not going to carry the ball 30-35 times a game. We’re still going to use Clyde. We’ve still got packages for those other guys. But is he a featured back? Yeah. For sure he’s our best back right now. He’s been the most productive.”
The bottom line is LSU will continue to ride the hot hand at running back, and since Brossette gets first ups every week, the job will be his as long as he remains far and away the most productive back of the bunch.
- Don’t get Greedy
Fresh of his first interception of 2018, Williams expressed surprise that a quarterback even dared to throw in his direction.
Williams stepped in front of his receiver in the fourth quarter to turn that mistake into a takeaway that kept LSU’s shutout intact.
“I wasn’t expecting any throws to go to my side,” Williams said, “but I guess the quarterback made a bad read, and there it goes again. Greedy Williams.”
That raises an obvious question: is it every a good read to throw at the All-American cornerback? Williams snatched that question away like one of his seven career interceptions
“No,” Williams responded emphatically. “No receiver is ever open. Ever. So there you go.”