You go, Joe Burrow
If you spent any time around LSU's Joe Burrow on the first afternoon of SEC Media Days, you walked away with a notebook full of killer quotes and one simple question. Is there a more outspoken, well-spoken, confident, cozy-in-his-own-skin, new-age throwback quarterback in college football?
Short answer: No because Burrow doesn't do short answers. Ask him anything, and you shall receive the kind of honest, direct, thoughtful and colorful response that tends to alarm coaches who want their players to be artists on the field but robots in the interview room.
Three accomplished, recruiting-poster quarterbacks made the scene Monday. Kelly Bryant of Missouri was cool and confident. Feleipe Franks of Florida was poised and polished.
Burrow? He stole the show, and not just with his Roadrunner socks. He described the allegedly new-and-improved, RPO-infused LSU offense, a schematic gumbo cooked up by offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and former New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady, as "a communal idea space."
"If I do what I need to do, and we as an offense are who I think we're going to be, I think we're going to be tough to beat," Burrow said. "It's going to be something that has the potential to be very explosive."
The Tigers did produce some fireworks in their last game, a fun-filled 40-32 Fiesta Bowl frolic over UCF. Then again, they also managed to get skunked by Alabama in Death Valley.
Never fear because Burrow's confidence heading into his senior year isn't limited to the LSU offense. Head coach Ed Orgeron admitted that last year's shockingly compliant run defense wasn't "LSU football," but the quarterback expects vast improvement.
"I would say if our defense is not the best in the country, it's in the top five in the country."
No pressure there.
While he was doing rankings, Burrow decided to throw plenty of kudos at his head coach, with whom he shares a bond that's only possible between Coach O and a QB who, in Burrow's self-evaluation, "played corner in high school like a linebacker" and "could've been a Division I player on defense, too" because "I like hitting."
"I think he's proven the last two years he's one of the best coaches in the country," Burrow said. That may not be a majority opinion, although Orgeron won over a few critics with last year's 10-3 season that wasn't far from 12-1.
"I think we both kind of proved a lot of people wrong at the same time," Burrow said.
It's hard not to root for more of the same, for a team led by a quarterback who took such a beating in the seven-overtime defeat against Texas A&M that he "was bruised for probably two or three weeks. But I bruise like a peach."
Burrow's such a natural at LSU, and such an upgrade from the program's procession of pedestrian quarterbacks, he should change his name to Burreaux. Imagine how much he'll have to say if the Tigers can put themselves in contention when they travel to Tuscaloosa in November - and if they can end their nightmarish eight-game losing streak to the Tide.
"You can feel the buzz inside the program and outside the program," Burrow said. And to think that he arrived at LSU from Ohio State a year ago with a philosophy to speak no evil, at least at first.
"I just tried to keep my mouth shut and let my work do the talking. Let that do the talking until people were ready to hear me."
You can't help but hear him now. You go, Joe Burrow.