Walking off the field after a 33-17 throttling of the No. 8 ranked Miami Hurricanes, Joe Burrow proved to the preseason doubters that this LSU team would be different.
“So when I committed, everybody was talking about, ‘Yeah, you’re going to go 6-6, 6-6, 5-7.’ And then I got here. I’m like, ‘We’re a really talented team. Like, we can be really good.’ ” said Burrow in a postgame interview.
Starting off the season against No. 8 ranked Miami with new faces across the offense and defense gave many people outside of the LSU locker room reason to think the Tigers would have a down year in 2018.
The Southeastern Conference Media Day in July tabbed as LSU as the fifth best team in the Western Division, but in Burrow’s eyes LSU has the talent to have a special season.
It’s hard not to blame the preseason predictions as it was only five months ago that Burrow was in the middle of spring camp training to lead a different team. Burrow was entrenched in competition for the starting quarterback position with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who ultimately won the job.
Burrow was determined to find a place where he could earn his way onto the field, and with two years of eligibility remaining Burrow found his opportunity in what was already a three man quarterback competition at LSU.
“If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would be the starting quarterback for LSU right I would have told you you were crazy,” Burrow said. “I’ve been in New Orleans one time before I moved down here and it was for a bowl game my dad played in down there. I didn’t know anything about Louisiana and I didn’t know anything about LSU and then I came down here for a visit and fell in love with the people and the place and that was really the main decision for me along with the opportunity to come down here and compete for the job and end up winning it.”
Burrow beat out Lowell Narcisse, Justin McMillan, and Myles Brennan to win the starting job, a decision by coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger that worked out well on Sunday.
“Joe Burrow kept his cool,” Orgeron said. “He’s very smart, cool under pressure and can make adjustments. He was ready to go. He was fired up today.”
Burrow finished the night going 11 for 24 for 140 yards and no touchdowns. Although his statistics may have not been the flashiest, Burrow played smart football, audibiling during critical points of the game as he was keen not to make a mistake.
Burrow escaped shaky pockets at times, keeping his eyes on his receivers downfield as he continuously made smart plays.
The biggest play of the night came on a 4th-and-inches at the Miami 49-yard line early in the second quarter. Burrow audibled the play shifting the run to the left as he saw a blitzing safety.
The play worked as running back Nick Brossette dodged a defender, converting the first down on what ended up being a touchdown drive that extended the LSU lead to 17-3.
Helped by a suffocating defense, Burrow showed the ability to lead the Tigers to a statement victory in AT&T stadium that will certainly help LSU’s chances when the selection committee makes their playoff choices later in the year.
“We could see it in camp-our team came together as those things were happening to us,” Orgeron said after the game. “We block out the noise.”
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit even issued an apology to the Tigers on Twitter as they pounded Miami: "LSU I apologize. This squadron appears to be amped and on a mission. Mercy!”
LSU put the preseason talk to the side on Sunday night and showed that they were the team that was officially “back” and ready to make a statement to their doubters throughout the season.