Mainieri understands the challenges at hand

Paul Mainieri

Although No. 2 LSU has had a season to remember so far in 2013, Paul Mainieri is all too familiar with how quickly good fortunes can change in the SEC. Because of this, Mainieri has been a bit hesitant to give his personal ruling on just how good the 2013 LSU squad is.

No. 2 LSU is off to perhaps the best start in school history for the 2013 season. The Tigers have amassed a 38-4 overall record to go along with a conference record of 15-3 in the SEC. One person that doesn't put much stock into what LSU has done so far this season is coach Paul Mainieri. While it is slightly astonishing that LSU has had the start that they have had, there is still plenty of time left in the 2013 season for their record and conference standing to be drastically affected.

Mainieri knows all too well how quickly a season can go south, as LSU was in a similar position in 2010 before two consecutive series losses in conference play changed their entire season. Mainieri explained that he has had conversations with his 2013 LSU squad regarding this issue, and how the conference schedule could play out, in recent weeks.

"It doesn't take too long to remember when we dropped two straight road series to South Carolina and Florida in 2010," said Mainieri. "Everyone was telling us how great we were, but I knew that we had those two weekends that would be tough on us."

"I told the team that when I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year, I broke it down into segments. You have the beginning of the conference play. Then you have these two weekends on the road in a row. I though it was going to be one of the more challenging aspects of our schedule."

Even though the Tigers have been very successful over the last few weeks against their SEC opponents, Mainieri feels that 2013 has the potential to end up just like 2010, unless LSU stays focused on the task at hand.

"South Carolina and Florida are capable of doing the same thing," said Mainieri. "We're happy to be home, but we have to play well and finish out the season these last four weeks. I told the team that if they did that then they would be successful and it would be one of the greatest seasons in school history."

It has become apparent in recent weeks that LSU has a target on their backs because of their lofty ranking and success so far this season. Mainieri also recognizes that things only get tougher as a season goes on for a team like the Tigers, something he is very familiar with.

"It is a constant battle for us when we are ranked high," said Mainieri. "A couple of years ago we played three weekends in a row where things got tougher each time, even though I didn't think it was possible. This season is pretty similar to that."

From what he has seen from his team in recent weeks, Mainieri is nothing but satisfied. With the Tigers concluding their two-week road trip over the weekend, Mainieri is very excited about being back in Alex Box Stadium. However, he understands that someone can easily come in and beat the Tigers regardless of the fact that they will be playing at home.

"To go to Arkansas, and then to follow that up with what we did during a trap weekend at Alabama, and take two out of three makes me happy," explained Mainieri. "We won four out of the six games we played and now we are to this part of the season."

"We have 15 games remaining with 12 of them in the friendly confines of our home stadium. Playing at home doesn't mean much considering we have won all of every road series that we have played this year."

With the success that LSU has had so far this season, it is very difficult to argue that it hasn't been impressive. Nearly every member of the team understands that it has been an exceptional season up this point, according to Mainieri.

As most head coaches would explain, Mainieri admits that it has been a good season, but he also believes that LSU can still improve down the stretch.

"The team understands that it has been a good year, perhaps the best in the long history of this LSU program," said Mainieri. "I'll admit that it has been a good year so far, but we still have work to do."

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