Senior Bowl invitations demonstrate how LSU underachieved

By David Moorman  |   Tuesday, December 30, 2008  |  Comments( 1 )

College Football
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Not that an all-star invitation is a true measure of one’s worth, but if an unranked college football team can garner as many invitations to the Senior Bowl as the fifth-ranked University of Southern California Trojans, which club do you think underachieved?

That’s right, the LSU Tigers. Both LSU and USC will have five players on the Senior Bowl rosters, yet it is the latter that lost only one game.

As for LSU, it finished its regular season 7-5 and was more than happy to make it to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

True, the Tigers lost two quarterbacks to injury; both were actually replacements for Ryan Perrilloux, who was dismissed from the team last spring.

Still, an LSU defense that featured the likes of end Tyson Jackson and linebacker Darry Beckwith shouldn’t have become the first in school history to allow 50-plus points twice in one season.

Jackson and Beckwith received Senior Bowl invitations, as did wide receiver Demetrius Byrd, All-America offensive lineman Herman Johnson and fullback Quinn Johnson. Despite missing two games because of injury, Beckwith finished fourth in team tackles with 48. Fighting off constant double-teaming, Jackson was second in tackles for loss (8.5) and quarterback sacks (4.5).

More indicative of its team’s strength is the Alabama Crimson Tide, which has four players headed to the game in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 24. Alabama’s 12-1 record, including a perfect regular season, is all the more reason Nick Saban deserved the Walter Camp Coach of the Year award for getting the most from his players. It’s also just one more reason to upset LSU fans still angry that their former coach took over the reins of an SEC Western Division rival. Accepting invitations from Alabama were quarterback John Parker Wilson, tight end Travis McCall, center Antoine Caldwell and safety Rashad Johnson.

Having a senior signal-caller such as Wilson does make a dramatic difference, especially one savvy enough to have set 12 school records. It helped having another senior at center in Caldwell, who was permanent team captain and a first team AFCA All-American. Caldwell’s presence only goes to show that it takes more than a record-breaker to produce a productive season.

For instance, Derek Pegues set numerous marks for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from losing their coach in Sylvester Croom -- whose resignation was no fault of Pegues, who established SEC records for kickoff returns (112) and kickoff yardage (2,484).

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About David Moorman

Dave Moormann is an award-winning journalist, who has covered LSU athletics since 1980. He began his coverage with the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he was a writer and editor from 1980-98. In 1996, he authored a book on the history of LSU football entitled, "Fighting Tigers Handbook: Stories, Stats...
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