With Outside Noise Bubbling, LSU Players "Moving Forward" to Florida

Tigers' players talk about pouring focus into preparation for Gators, leaving the past losses in the past
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Coming off two straight conference losses, the mood in the LSU locker room would presumably not be the greatest, especially considering the way the Tigers now find themselves 1-2 in SEC play.

But it was just last year when the purple and gold were coming off back-to-back losses for the first time under coach Ed Orgeron. Their next opponent was Florida and the program was able to rebound and pull off one of the upsets of the entire 2020 college season. 

This season has been eerily similar to the 2020 version of the Tigers coming off a national championship run. LSU finds itself at .500 on the year and facing a daunting final six week stretch of the schedule and in the middle of nation wide talk around the program's future.

But much like Orgeron said on Monday, the LSU players aren't focused on the outside chatter about the future of the program. They understand this team hasn't lived up to its own expectations and are working hard everyday to remedy the situation.

Center Liam Shanahan has been one of the leaders of this team the last two years and says the players in the locker room haven't lost focused of the task at hand through all of the struggles. 

"We're all in. We've been working really hard, it's been disappointing and everyone knows that," Shanahan said. "We're playing as hard as we can and moving forward that's what we're gonna do."

Part of what comes with the controversy surrounding the future of a head coach or just overall instability are the questions of the morale around the team. It certainly hasn't been easy on the players who have watched as fellow teammates go down with injuries and talk swirl around their coaches future at LSU.

"I'm not even thinking about that. That's not anything I, or any of my teammates can control," Shanahan said. "What we're focused on is preparing for our opponent, it's going to be a big game for us. It's been a tough start to the year, none of us wanted to be in this situation but the only we can do is keep fighting."

Punter Avery Atkins perhaps provided the most clarity on what's been a tough situation for all involved. Atkins has seen it all in his four years first as the kickoff specialist and this season as the punter. 

Atkins, who is coming off his strongest performance statistics wise this season, says the Tigers have done a good job of leaving the Auburn and Kentucky losses in the past and put all of their energy into beating Florida.

"I think we're going in the right direction. I think it's important to consider the past as a place of reference not a place of residence," Atkins said. "We can't look at the past, we've gotta move forward and that's what we're doing. That's what we did yesterday and what we're doing this week."

The Florida game is one that always wakes the players up regardless of the kind of season the program is having. The Gators come in with plenty to prove having lost the last two matchups with the Tigers and feature a great pass rush and mobile quarterback. 

"They're coming to our stadium and we gotta protect our house. It's a big rivalry, it always has been," Atkins said. "What happened last year, if it happens again this year we'll be ready for it."