Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal from the LSU football program for a failed drug test was a shock to the college football community. The Tigers had just been given a No.1 ranking in the release of the initial Coaches Poll, and suddenly they were down a Heisman finalist and inarguably their highest-profile player. His former teammates aren't dwelling on his absence, however. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger told SI.com that the team's expectations remain exactly the same.
"We're going to miss him a lot,'' Mettenberger said of Mathieu, "But we've got to handle this adversity because this team is not a bad team even though we lost one of our best players. ... We have the same goals and we're going to look to achieve all of them.''
LSU had huge shoes to fill in the secondary when Morris Claiborne left for the NFL. With Mathieu gone, the Tigers' pass defense could suddenly become an Achilles' heel if Tharold Simon and freshmen Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins aren't ready to step up. Offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk said the team is challenging the younger players.
"We all took it upon (ourselves) as the leadership of this team to really turn to the back of the (team meeting) room and look at the younger guys and say, `All right, who's going to step up? Who's going to be the next guy that's going to fill in this position?'
"We have things to do this year,'' Dworaczyk continued. "Something we always do here at LSU is, through adversity, we continue to move forward."