The expectation for every Saturday in Tiger Stadium is for it to be a dramatically serious affair.
They don’t call it Death Valley for nothing.
This particular gorgeous Saturday afternoon and this particular LSU Spring Game definitely did not fit into any neat little stereotypes.
The mood was, in a word, playful, not playing as if anyone’s lives depended on it.
New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron let his quarterbacks call their own plays — and Zach Mettenberger in turn asked the players in his huddle what they wanted to run.
In the postgame news conference, when a reporter’s cell phone doubling as a digital recorder started vibrating with an incoming call, Les Miles picked it up and answered it before tossing it two rows back to the much chagrined media member.
Word to the wise: the right tool for the job is never bad.
If you went to Tiger Stadium wondering if the LSU football team circa 2013 is going to have the tools to play with and beat teams like Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M on its rugged schedule, you had to leave wondering the same thing.
The offense worked out of a handful of formations. The defense only two. Six projected starters sat out, as did a number of other players who will see significant action this fall. Think key cogs, like starting right tackle Vadal Alexander or tailback Alfred Blue.
The game and the atmosphere fit Miles’ M.O.: entertaining, but close to the vest.
“You’re not necessarily planning to win a championship (Saturday), just be productive,” Miles said.
Too many missing pieces and too many pieces still to come for an LSU team that played so many freshmen last season. Too many unknowns about what Cameron’s offense will truly look like.
But confidence remains high.
“When this team reconvenes in June with a real quality freshman class … we should be a pretty strong team,” Miles said. “There’s a lot to build on. It’s a great challenge. It’s a start.”
The spring fling at a synopsis of the Tigers’ hopes for 2013 based on Saturday: They won’t go undefeated, but they will be good enough to beat any team they play.
“We came in here with a lot of haters and doubters who say we can’t do it,” defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said. “I’m trying to prove to the whole world that we can ball with anyone.
“We lose people, we replace them. I feel we have enough talent here to win a championship.”
The truth that will be told about this LSU football team almost certainly lies somewhere in the middle of its expectations.
The defense, though gutted by early NFL departures, won’t be as bad as feared. The offense probably won’t be as evolutionary as Tiger fans everywhere dream it will be.
But just where will they stand after the last Saturday in November? No one watching on this Saturday could really tell you that with any certainty.
Saturday was just for fun. Life and death comes later.