A Team is More Than a Sum of its Parts
One person does not make a team. I don’t care what kind of team it is. It could be football, basketball or tug-of-war. Losing the big guy that stands at the end of the line and wraps the rope around himself is not going to make or break the team as long as there is another big guy to take his place.
Of course, the obvious retort to this slightly cliché argument is the 2011 Indianapolis Colts. I am going to consider them the team that gets the asterisk put next to their name. All good rules have exceptions, after all, and a team winning only two games after losing only one player is definitely an exception to my rule. However, the player they lost is Peyton Manning. Not many players could even hope to be as hard to replace as Manning.
The Arkansas Razorback football team of 2011 is the perfect example of why the Colts are the the exception to the rule. When it was confirmed that Knile Davis would be out for the entire season, some fans turned into Chicken Little. The team lost one player and the sky was falling. Granted, the loss of the previous season’s Southeastern Conference rushing leader would be a major blow to any program.
The Razorbacks, though, went on to win 11 games. The only losses of the season were suffered against Alabama and LSU. The two teams that just happened to play for the National Championship. And if we’re being honest, we probably would have lost both of those games even with Davis.
There may not have been one single person that was able to step in and replace Davis. I’ll give credit where it is due and Davis deserves every bit that he has ever earned. But as a team, there were enough players with enough talent that stepped up and made sure the team won the games that it was expected to win.
Another team that managed to win despite the loss of offensive leaders in 2011 was the Houston Texans. Rookie quarterback TJ Yates started the last five games of the season and led the team into the divisional round of the playoffs after injuries sidelined both starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart.
Football fans everywhere, except maybe in Louisiana, got very excited when it became clear that Tyrann Mathieu would not be playing for LSU this year. I even felt like a giddy little school girl when I first heard the news. Then that unfortunate thing called reality set in. Teams like Arkansas and the Texans are a perfect example why this excitement is a little premature. The loss of one player is not going to be the end of LSU’s season.
LSU recruits at as high a level as any team in the country. They are going to have talented players. Their defense will still be a force to be reckoned with. There are currently six cornerbacks on the roster for LSU, all of which are six feet tall or taller, which is an upgrade from Mathieu’s five feet nine inches. In a conference where so much emphasis is put on size, this is not a fact to be taken lightly.
Of course, I would love to see Tyler Wilson, Cobi Hamilton and Knile Davis make a fool out of every player on LSU’s defense. But one player is just that, one player. Maybe I’m a bit of a pessimist, but I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch or, in this case, my touchdowns before they’re thrown.