Maybe he had Labor Day weekend plans or perhaps he was making storm damage repairs to his den, but whatever the reason Mike VI, LSU’s live tiger mascot, was a no-show for the Tigers’ season opener Saturday against North Texas.
LSU sent out a news release Saturday reminding fans that it does not force Mike into his traveling cage when he doesn’t want to cooperate.
“LSU School of Veterinary Medicine student handlers have been working with Mike ... throughout the summer to get him ready to load into his trailer for LSU Tiger home football games,” the release said. “However, being an adult male tiger, he does not always comply. Because of this, he may not attend all home games this season.”
Translation: When a large man-eating predator wants to stay home you let him stay home.
Mike VI arrived at LSU in August 2007 as a 2-year-old, but has since matured, becoming more cautious, the release said. LSU attending veterinarian Dr. David Baker said that this is a sign of normal tiger development.
“If Mike VI does not attend the pre-game festivities, it is important for fans to know that this does not mean that something is wrong,” Baker said. “Mike VI is a healthy, normal tiger.”
Mathieu not enrolled
Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu still has not enrolled in school, but he has until Wednesday to do so thanks to the university being closed for much of last week because of Hurricane Isaac. The original deadline for enrollment for the fall semester was Aug. 29.
Mathieu, who was kicked off the team Aug. 10 for reportedly failing multiple drug tests, has been at a drug treatment center in Houston.
He reportedly is considering enrolling at LSU and paying his own way.
Adventures in special teams
Many years from now, LSU freshmen Reid Ferguson and Jamie Keehn will have an interesting story to tell about the first live action of each player’s college career.
Midway through the first quarter, Ferguson’s snap sailed high and through the outstretched hands of Keehn, who was quickly surrounded by defenders as he retrieved the loose ball.
But Keehn somehow got the punt off, and the near-disaster resulted in a rolling 38-yard punt.
Ferguson earned the job as the starting long snapper way back in the spring after enrolling at LSU in January as a scholarship player.
Keehn is fellow Australian Brad Wing’s backup, but handled punting duties Saturday night as Wing nursed a slight hamstring injury.
The duo of Ferguson and Keehn had much better results in their second time out to punt.
Ferguson’s snap was true. Keehn unleashed a 51-yard rocket that was fair caught by North Texas.
With Wing out, junior Seth Fruge held for Drew Alleman on place kicks.
Starting what LSU officials refer to as a new tradition at home games, the new lighting beneath the arches at the top of the north grandstands will be illuminated gold after an LSU home victory.
LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the lighting should be visible as far away as the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge.
After drilling a 44-yard field goal earlier in the second quarter, Alleman’s streak of 11 consecutive field goals came to an end when he was wide right on a 34-yard attempt with 2:20 left before halftime.
Alleman converted his final 10 attempts of 2011 with his last miss being a 30-yarder at West Virginia on Sept. 24.
In addition to Wing, quarterback Zach Mettenberger went down temporarily in the first half when he was shaken up on a corner blitz.
Mettenberger was taken to the locker room and evaluated, but later returned to the game after being replaced for a series by redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers.
Linebacker D.J. Welter didn’t dress out with an unspecified injury.
Linebacker Lamin Barrow went down with 3:30 left in the first quarter, replaced by freshman Deion Jones.
Fullback J.C. Copeland was also shaken up with 6:10 left in the third quarter but walked off the field.
With an underdog opponent and a high school football schedule disrupted by Hurricane Isaac, the North Texas weekend was never going to be a critical one for LSU recruiting.
Still some big name players did show up Saturday according to Rivals.com and 24/7 Sports, among them University High defensive end Tim Williams, generally regarded the No. 1 or 2 player in the state for 2013.
Lindale (Ga.) Pepperell offensive guard Andy Dodd, an LSU commitment and member of the ESPNU 150, made it in, as did ESPNU 150 tight end DeSean Smith of Lake Charles Barbe.
Local football/basketball prospect Brian Bridgewater of Scotlandville was on the sideline as was Port Allen linebacker Darrian Claiborne, a Texas A&M commitment, and 2014 wide receiver prospect Speedy Noil of New Orleans Karr.
Hurricane Isaac forced LSU to paint the field for Saturday’s game three times as the turf kept getting washed out. The storm also damaged the video screen on the south scoreboard, which showed a static “LSU” throughout the game. ... LSU now leads the North Texas series 4-0. ... Former LSU All-American defensive lineman Ronnie Estay was recognized before kickoff. ... LSU returns to Tiger Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday against Washington, which had a late kickoff against San Diego State. North Texas returns home to play Texas Southern.
Advocate sportswriters Scott Rabalais, Scott Hotard, Les East and Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.