LSU's Addai willing to take whatever the coaches give
Friday, September 30, 2005
By William Kalec
BATON ROUGE -- Joseph Addai waits…waits…waits. There it is, a brief bit of silence that he instinctually seizes, utilizing the tiny spot of dead air to correct a wardrobe oversight.
It totally slipped the senior’s mind. You see, before any LSU Tiger speaks in front of the cameras, he is required to wear these pricey, yet conformist polos, each sporting school embroidery. There’s no escaping this policy, since the rack covers a spectrum of sizes, from Skyler Green to Herman Johnson.
On Wednesday, Addai grabbed a shirt, but forgot to put it on. Midway through an answer, Addai’s upper body noticeably snapped --- uh-oh, the shirt --- causing the mellow-spoken running back to turn auctioneer. With the fashion police hovering, Addai finished his statement at Mach 2 speed, then wrestled that familiar purple shirt over his head faster than Superman in a phone booth.
“I don’t know why we got to put this shirt on,” the senior mumbled as his arms searched for the sleeves.
Looking for some post-Tennessee upheaval? There it is. Yep, that’s it.
True, it’s not exactly the degree of dissention some expected after local weather forecasts predicted the sky to fall about 11 p.m. Monday night only to wake up to another boiling September morning.
And, while completely tongue-in-cheek, Addai -- extra cautious since it seems (statistically, at least) he’s on the verge of becoming Les Miles’ featured back -- wishes he could have taken a mulligan on that shirt comment.
He proceeds to wisely pitter-patter around potentially spicy inquires, choosing not to jeopardize his current standing.
A pain to bring down in between the white strips, Addai proved to be equally shifty in front of a different spotlight --- giving only bread-and-butter response to media questions.
“I don’t know,” Addai predictably said when probed as to whether he can get comfortable when he’s frequently substituted in and out on the field. “The air was feeling kind of different so we did have players that were tired or cramping so I think I got in a good rhythm in the first half. In the second half, I don’t think I…”
Addai put on the verbal brakes, choosing to keep his feet on the field, rather than putting them in his mouth.
Miles’ decision to switch tailbacks at nearly every change of possession is quite similar Nick Saban’s 2004 by-committee approach.
Through two games this year, Addai has received the majority of hand-offs and has rewarded the coach’s generosity with 193 yards (96.5 per game, good for second-best in the SEC) on only 32 carries, surprising when you examine Miles’ run-heavy track record at Oklahoma State.
At that rate, should LSU reach the SEC Championship and be invited to a bowl, Addai will have received 208 handoffs, 50 less touches than Oklahoma State’s Vernand Morency compiled in 12 games last year under the same coach.
In the first half against Tennessee, Addai average better than seven yards a rush, and the Houston product also was the featured back for both LSU offensive scoring drives. Most remember Addai’s dash to the outside from 19 yards, putting LSU on top 7-0, but forget his second-quarter 21-yard run set the stage for the JaMarcus Russell-to-Craig Davis flea-flicker on the next play.
So why didn’t Addai get 25 or 30 carries, particularly with LSU up big and the clock in its favor?
“I don’t know,” Addai said with a Senator’s vagueness. “Whatever the coaches give, I’m going to take advantage of it -- if it’s five carries, if it’s 20 carries. Whatever they give me.”
Despite Addai’s early effectiveness, Miles waited until LSU’s third drive of the third quarter – beginning at 3:28 --- to reintroduce his leading rusher to the spectators at Tiger Stadium. Well rested, Addai ripped off consecutive first-down runs, sparking another march that ended in points (Chris Jackson’s field goal).
Asked if the revolving-door system disallowed any of the backs from getting into a consistent flow, Addai spruced up his sampling of responses, saying, “Really, I don’t know.”