"Soft" is never a label a head coach wants to be associated with his football team, but that's exactly what Ed Orgeron is dealing with now.
Once one of the most feared programs in college football in regard to on-field physicality, LSU has limped out of the starter's gate in 2017. Orgeron has failed to live up to expectations set during his interim run following Les Miles' firing, and a number of anonymous coaches across the nation have a new perspective on the program from Death Valley, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.
"They don't play hard," one veteran college coach said. "Troy was more physical."
"It wasn't what you expect," said another assistant. "You expect guys ready to kick your ass. There wasn't any fire. Genetically they weren't as good. On film, they weren't as good. But these guys, I don't know. These guys, I don't even know what to say. I can't believe they play the way they do. They're soft. Soft. It doesn't make sense."
"When everything got super tough against Mississippi State, they tapped out," a personnel executive added. "State was giving it to them and they didn't want an piece of it. They were tapping out the entire game."
The lowlights of the Tigers' 3-2 record far outweigh the highlights, as victories over BYU and Syracuse have done little to overshadow the weight of a blowout defeat to Mississippi State and the program's first home loss to a non-conference opponent in 17 years. Defense has been an issue for the Tigers throughout the season, something one assistant took notice of when studying LSU.
"They're just standing there," the assistant said. "They weren't running to the ball. It baffles me. I don't know Dave Aranda, but I know they're paying him a s--t load of money."
ESPN analyst and former LSU defensive tackle Booger McFarland was also critical of his alma mater, questioning the effect of the team's new offensive coordinator on the team's offensive identity.
“My biggest fear when they hired Matt Canada was LSU getting soft, and it’s happening before our eyes,” McFarland said. “They’re not physical on the line of scrimmage. It’s a byproduct of the offense, which goes side-to-side. They’ve lost the ability to go north-south and be physical.”
LSU will need to flick some sort of switch to turn its season around, and its next opportunity will come Saturday versus Florida on the road. If LSU isn't able to get things done in Gainesville, it could be a long, bumpy road ahead for Eddie-O and company.