Shame on all those people who made fun of Brian Kelly’s dancing before the season started.
The joke’s now on all of you who did.
The joke’s also on the rest of the SEC and the SEC West.
Kelly and LSU are having the last laugh.
Kelly’s not only dancing to a different beat these days, so is his entire LSU football team.
LSU is dancing all the way to Atlanta.
And, Bama helped, holding off Ole Miss, 30-24 in Oxford, Ms later Saturday.
But even though they are the champions of the SEC West, Kelly and LSU may not be the most suave or refined dancers you’ve ever seen. They may not have the best rhythm. They may even miss a step or two once every now and then.
But those Tigers sure are fun to watch, and pretty good at finishing off their moves.
Witness Saturday’s game.
LSU’s electric quarterback, Jayden Daniels, kind of froze up in the Tigers’ 13-10 win over Arkansas.
The game-time temperature was 36 degrees. Daniels is from Southern California. Perhaps the frigid temperatures had something do with his dismal statistical performance.
Daniels turned the ball over twice, doubling his turnover amount for the season entering Saturday’s game, and he passed for less than 100 yards (86 to be precise, completing 8 of 15 attempts).
LSU’s leading rusher for the season, Daniels ran the ball 19 times against Arkansas. He managed to gain only 10 yards. He was sacked more than the football gods ever intended for a quarterback to be, seven times to be exact.
It was an SEC record so far this season.
And Daniels failed to score a touchdown, too. That does not happen often.
It was not pretty – Daniel’s performance – nor LSU’s offensive effort.
But it was tough and gritty.
For all of you who are, like myself, non-dance enthusiasts, what LSU pulled off on Saturday is technically what’s called a do-si-do.
The LSU version of the do-si-do has Kelly and Tigers one step winning the SEC Championship now, most likely against defending national champion Georgia, in the first week of December.
A do-si-do – just so you know – is a type of square dance.
Square dancing happens to be extremely popular in Arkansas.
It’s known for not always being aesthetically pleasing.
In fact, square dancing is the official state dance as declared way back in 1991 by an Act of the Arkansas General Assembly.
Do-si-do by definition means, back-to-back. As opposed to face-to-face.
Most people dance face-to-face, it seems, when they’re dancing together.
But one week after pulling off an epic upset in Tiger Stadium, dancing its way into LSU football history with an unforgettable 32-31 overtime win over Alabama by using an explosive, strike-from-anywhere-at-any-time-offense as part of its quotient for victory, LSU found itself needing to perform an encore of sorts against Arkansas.
When its offense was clearly, shall we say, off-beat, LSU simply did an “about face” to finish off it’s do-si-do.
“Just a great performance,” Kelly said afterward. “You know we didn’t really find ourselves today on offense. But look, sometimes you just got to grind through. I mean this is a tough league, and Arkansas played great today. Today, it was difficult to get anything going.”
Josh Williams ran for 122 yards and a touchdown while linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. had four sacks and two forced fumbles as LSU’s defense held Arkansas to 249 yards of total offense.
Williams had scored LSU’s only touchdown, a 1-yarder, late in the third quarter to give the Tigers a 10-point lead. LSU’s offense otherwise struggled, with only one of its 13 series yielding more than 40 yards.
Perkins stripped Arkansas’s third-string quarterback Cade Fortin late in the game to seal the enormous win for LSU. Overall, the Tigers’ defense had eight tackles for loss and held Arkansas to 3.7 yards per play.
But it was Perkins who stole the show, chasing Arkansas quarterbacks and LSU offensive demons down and away all day.
After the game, an ESPN reporter asked Kelly what he thinks when watching Perkins play?
“That he’s on our team, Thank God!,” Kelly said.
“It’s just that athletic ability. His ability to consistently make plays and, listen, getting into position to make plays consistently as a true freshman. I think coach (Matt) House has done a great job utilizing him. Sometimes you have a great player like that, and you don’t utilize him. I think our staff and coach House have done a great job of utilizing him to make an impact like he did here today at Arkansas.”
When Perkins stripped Fortin with 1:23 left in the game, Mekhi Wingo pounced on it. It was ruled a fumble on the field, but it went to review. This time the call stood.
So, LSU was dancing.
However, only about four minutes earlier, Perkins appeared to have sacked Fortin as Jay Ward stripped the football, while Micah Baskerville scooped it up for a 29-yard return. However, that play was overturned when replay officials ruled Fortin’s throwing motion had begun.
“My hat goes off to coach (Sam Pittman) today,” Kelly said.
“Sam had his team ready to play. And, again, we made plays on defense and that were important. Harold Perkins was outstanding today. He was all over the field. And, again, it’s about survival in the SEC. We found a way to win on the road when we didn’t have our A game. Hopefully, we’ve learned how you have to prepare offensively week in and week out in this league.”
POLL IMPLICATIONS: Who cares? LSU won a game it could not afford to lose and won the SEC West Championship.
THE TAKEAWAY LSU: Perkins should win the Butkus Award this year. Or, maybe even be a Heisman candidate. I am not joking. The highest finish ever in the Heisman Trophy voting for any individual not named Charles Woodson (Michigan defensive back) who played exclusively on defense is second, by defensive end Hugh Green of Pittsburgh in 1980, linebacker Manti Te’o of Notre Dame in 2012, and by defensive end Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan in 2021. Keep that in mind, if not this year certainly over the next two seasons. . . . LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes depend on establishing a more aesthetic performance or dance routine as its regular season beats on with only two more steps remaining. And, of course, running the table and winning the SEC Championship.