The Honey Badger No Longer A Tiger
LSU, ranked #1 in several pre-season polls, has removed one of their most electrifying playmakers from the team. Tyrann Mathieu, known as the Honey Badger for his penchant for “taking what he wants”- namely passes intended for opposing receivers- has been kicked off the team for violation of team rules. The New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting that the violation was another failed drug test, although the school would not confirm that. (Mathieu and two teammates were suspended for a game last fall after testing positive for synthetic marijuana). “We’ll miss the guy,” said coach Les Miles Friday night. “But just like (with) an injury, the football team’s got to go on.”
So how does this affect the team heading into the season? Sophomore Tharold Simon will be one starting CB, and a more than adequate one. A host of true and redshirt freshmen will be competing for the other spot. The Tigers have plenty of upperclassmen at the safety position, including talented junior Eric Reid, so I actually don’t expect Mathieu’s absence to be a huge issue in the backfield. Look for sophomore Odell Beckham as a possible replacement in the return game.
When LSU will miss Mathieu is when they’re in a close game and need a big play. The Honey Badger is one of the rare athletes who thrives on pressure. When the team needed a momentum-changer, he was frequently the one to provide it, whether that meant ripping off a long punt return or snagging an errant pass from an opposing QB. Mathieu led the team in forced fumbles with six and fumble recoveries with four, and tied for the team lead in tackles with 76, as well as having two interceptions; he was also a Heisman Finalist and won the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. Any SEC offensive coordinator will tell you that accounting for him was a huge part of their game plan. The word “swagger” may be massively overused in sports, but the Honey Badger had swagger and the talent to back it up.
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