LSU can’t even agree on who called players-only meeting

BATON ROUGE, La. — It’s a metaphor so obvious that it borders on unbelievable: The LSU football team has so many communication issues right now that it can’t even agree on who called its players-only meeting Saturday night.

Coach Ed Orgeron said he thought it was senior running back Darrel Williams. Inside linebacker Devin White said fourth-year junior safety John Battle was the only player who spoke. After the game, senior nose tackle Greg Gilmore claimed he stood up and offered his voice. Defensive end Christian LaCouture said everyone who wanted to speak got a chance to.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Orgeron’s story doesn’t match up with the players’ stories. It was a players-only meeting, after all. But when three defensive players can’t agree on who stood up and led after an embarrassing 24-21 loss to a Sun Belt opponent, that might be a problem.

Especially coming off the heels of Orgeron’s postgame message.

“His message was we need more leadership, because at the end of the day there’s only so much the coaches can do,” White said Monday. “They’re up here working countless hours and putting the plan in. It’s up to us to execute, and it’s up to us to want it more than the other team.”

As a fifth-year senior, LaCouture has been through a lot at LSU. He has seen a lot of good and a lot of bad in his time in Baton Rouge. So when he says players-only meetings are rare, that really is saying something.

“It’s something that I think when it’s necessary, you have to do it,” LaCouture said. “After that game, we felt like it needed to be addressed. When it happened, everybody got their time to talk. When it got done, we said ‘OK, let’s move on.'”

Citing team privacy, LaCouture chose not to comment on the topics of discussion in the meeting. His teammates had no such qualms.

After the game, Gilmore said he told his teammates to play for him and the rest of the seniors. This is their last go-round as college athletes, and no one wants to go out on a sour note. So Gilmore wants the younger players to support the upperclassmen, hopefully setting up a karmic chain three years down the line when the freshmen are in his position.

White said he heard a different message and relayed what he recalls Battle telling the team after the game.

“I know [Battle] had a lot on his chest with him being a [fourth-year],” White said. “He’s been here through when they played teams like that and they dominated them. He said some things. [senior fullback J.D. Moore] kind of added some things in. And that was basically it.”

Regardless of who initiated the meeting, the final message was always the same: It’s time to move on. The Tigers travel to Gainesville, Fla., this weekend to take on the No. 21 Gators. As bleak as Saturday might have been, LSU still controls its own destiny in SEC play. Saturday will mark the first step to ensuring that remains true.

And to forgetting the pain of the Troy game.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Gilmore said. “Ain’t nothing that no one can say to make you feel better.”

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