Think back one year to Oct. 2, 2007.
Whether it was the rapidly increasing speculation on LSU coach Les Miles’ job status, the star power of senior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, or the convincing nature of the team’s first five wins, in 2007 LSU was one of college football’s most talked-about programs.
In 2008, however, the Tigers have dodged nearly all national attention despite very similar circumstances, not to mention a thrilling comeback victory against Auburn.
“I think that’s a good thing though,” said tailback Charles Scott. “We don’t need any buzz. We want to be under the radar and we don’t want people talking about us. That way when we come to collect we’ll hit them in the face.”
Under the radar could best describe Scott as well who entered the season unranked on most of your lists that rank the country’s top running backs.
However, he has been the brightest star on the Tigers’ 2008 squad and is now being mentioned by some for several national awards including the Heisman Trophy.
On just 71 carries he has amassed 540 yards and six touchdowns, nearly twice as many as he gained in all of 2007. But when it comes to the Heisman talk, Scott avoids that topic like a linebacker shooting the gap.
“It’s nice to be mentioned like that but I’m not worried about all of that,” he said with a laugh.
One topic he does enjoy talking about is running behind one of the most experienced lines in college football and he tries his hardest to show his gratitude.
“We’ve got a rotation,” he said. “I take two of them at a time, because if I took all of them I’d probably be broke right now. But we rotate and every week I take two of them out to dinner to get whatever they want, just to show my appreciation. Last week we chilled around the house and I grilled for them.”
Individual accomplishments aside, Scott said he is pleased with the season’s progress so far. As has been the team’s mantra since the Tigers’ 34-24 performance against Mississippi State, the Tigers must stop getting in their own way.
“I’m loving this season,” he said. “We’ve started off undefeated so far, knock on wood, and the good thing about that is we haven’t played our best game yet. There’s plenty of room for improvement; we don’t even know how good we are yet, so that’s a lot of fun.”
It seems likely that, less than halfway through the season, Scott will double his total of carries from 2007 some time in his next game. Despite the extra work he said he is holding up fine, but may be concerned about the placement of LSU’s bye week.
“As long as I’m getting my rest I’ll feel good,” he said. “I actually wasn’t as sore this week as I was for Auburn, even though I got more carries. I don’t know if I’m stronger or if Auburn was more physical.
“But that stretch is going to be a long one,” added the SEC’s leading rusher. “Probably somewhere in that fourth week we’re going to start to wear down a little bit. But I think we’re strong enough to hold up as a team; our conditioning has been good.”
With just this one bye week between now and the bowl break, Scott said he plans to “relax” and perhaps watch his nephew play some football. When asked if he had tips for his nephew he laughed again.
“I can’t really talk to him about it, he’s only six,” he said. “He’s out there having fun; he’s not quite at the stage where I could get too technical with him.”
After one last week in the shadows, it is unlikely LSU will be able to avoid the spotlight much longer.
Starting Oct. 4, the Tigers will begin a slate of eight games in eight weeks, with at least three of those coming against ranked opponents. Regardless of the differences between Oct. 2, 2007 and Oct. 2, 2008, Scott said it won’t affect his or his team’s mentality.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know we were No. 2 in the country,” he said. “I don’t read the newspapers or the rankings. I’d rather not be No. 1 now and be No. 1 at the end.”