Maybe UCLA just has arrived in Year 4 of the Chip Kelly era.
Maybe the Bruins are just that much better than anyone expected coming into the 2021 college football season.
But ESPN national college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit is hearing none of that as it pertains to LSU's performance last weekend in a 38-27 loss to host UCLA.
The Tigers overhauled their coaching staff on both sides of the ball under Ed Orgeron, who led LSU to the 2019 College Football Playoff championship but languished through a 5-5 2020 season that featured one of the worst defenses in school history.
“New defensive coordinator. The missed tackles,” Herbstreit said Saturday on ESPN's GameDay program. “There were 13 missed tackles. I think that’s being generous. When you watch this, it’s not just missed tackles. It's effort. It’s effort.
“You cannot believe that’s the LSU uniform when you watch this game.”
Herbstreit went on to evoke the names of some of LSU's recent great defensive players, including his ESPN colleague Booger McFarland.
“We can say whatever you want,” Herbstreit said. “I like UCLA. I liked them all year, but when I watched this, I just wonder what Patrick Peterson and Devin White and Booger McFarland and Tyrann Mathieu and all these LSU players ... say whatever you want about LSU.
“They’re going to win games, lose games. The defensive standard when it comes to effort and attitude and want and love for each other and love for the game and want to compete; LSU’s off the charts compared to almost anyone in the country year after year after year.”
LSU now has lost six of its past 11 games since it captured the national title. The Tigers don't figure to struggle tonight as they host FCS McNeese State in a family affair for the Orgerons.