Dwayne Thomas is a defensive back and defensive backs, in general, are known trash-talkers.
And Thomas, to his LSU teammates, stands out as a trash-talker even among defensive backs.
“I hear a lot of stuff (Thomas says on the field) that a lot of people don’t hear, a lot of stuff that teammates don’t hear,” said Donte Jackson, who spends his time playing next to Thomas in the secondary, so he is privy to his greatest trash-talking hits. “He’s confident, and he’s ready to play. That’s what it means.”
And America, especially Alabama’s fan base, knows that quite well now, too. And the Crimson Tide fans are licking their chops, ready for a humbling of LSU’s nickelback when No. 1 Alabama visits No. 13 LSU on Saturday. And the Alabama players are probably aware, too, as these words are almost certainly up on some bulletin board in the Alabama locker room.
“I really see us dominating this offense. I really see us dominating this team,” the senior defensive back told The Advocate. “This is the year. We’ve been letting them off the hook for the last couple of years. This is my senior year. We’re going out with a bang. It’s time for us to bring that win back.
“We’re going to be at home. I feel like we have the edge to take it to them, and we’re going to take it to them. I feel like we’re going to dominate this game.”
Surely, it’s not something you say about a team you’ve never beat, right? Surely, “dominate” is not a word you use in this context? Right?
Ask his teammates and you get shrugs and a “That’s Dwayne.” To them, it’s part of football.
“You oughta hear what we say on the field,” said LSU center Ethan Pocic, a remark meant to refer to college football players generically and not specifically LSU. “It’s a lot worse.”
But it’s also not public, and that’s where Thomas created a bit of a firestorm that never would have happened if he barked the same words in Calvin Ridley’s face before the game’s first play. But he said them to a newspaper and that … well, that’s the reason why you are reading about it over a week later here.
Clearly, it’s not a good idea. His coach, Ed Orgeron, said as much on Monday when he said, “That’s wrong. He shouldn’t have said it,” and added, “You don’t win games in the papers.”
If you do, be prepared to face the consequences.
Like before last year’s College Football Playoff when both Michigan State and Clemson had plenty to say before getting beat down by the Crimson Tide in the postseason. And Spartans and Tigers had to live down being trolled by Crimson Tide fans afterwards.
So the lesson seems to be, trash talk away … in the locker room, on the field, in your living room, in private company. That stuff gets shrugs.
Just don’t say it to the media.
Or do it. What difference does it make?
If Thomas didn’t speak his mind and LSU gets rolled, the Tigers would still get “trolled,” as the expression goes, by Alabama fans. So why not express a little confidence where his teammates can see it?
Trash-talking doesn’t necessarily lead to embarrassment. Miami trash-talked its way to multiple national championships in the 1980s and ’90s. Because of the Hurricanes’ perceived cockiness, a lot of people loved it when they lost, but it didn’t happen often. And ‘Canes fans loved the brashness, and it gave those teams a cult following.
The media, of course, loves it. Thomas gave us something to write about during a bye week. Some players say they feed off it and get focused by it. Others won’t do it.
But, by now, everybody who plays college football is used to it, and it’s as much a part of the sounds of the game as the thud of pads, school fight songs and cheesy piped-in Jock Jams.
Some take part, others don’t. But are any players really offended?
“I respect (Alabama). They’ve beat us ever since I’ve been here and more than that,” said Pocic, a senior. “But if Dwayne wants to talk, let him talk. I’m not going to get mad. That’s football.”
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