For all of LSU's talent and experience last year, coach Nick Saban always insisted chemistry and character were the two key ingredients that pushed the Tigers to a 13-1 record, the SEC championship and a share of the national championship.
The Tigers lost several of the key chemistry and character components off last year's team, but Saban is starting to see this year's team build some of its own special qualities.
"I felt like our team made a step in what we talked about a lot in trying to create an identity for itself in terms of how we competed and how we played against a good, physical team in Alabama," Saban said, reflecting on last week's 26-10 home win over Alabama.
"We really competed well in the game, played with a lot of toughness and tenacity. I think those are important ingredients in trying to develop competitive character in a team."
Now the key is to build on that performance, much like last year's team learned to do. At 7-2, 4-2 in the SEC, the Tigers are out of the SEC West championship race, so their growing chemistry and character will have to take over against Ole Miss on Saturday and Arkansas on Nov. 27.
"The key to the drill is to be able to do this on a consistent basis," Saban said, "which has been something that I think we need to try to continue to build on.
"This is a rivalry game, and emotion has a lot to do with it. So anybody who's not ready for a fight and a tough game in this game is probably not thinking right. ... (Ole Miss) has enough good football players to beat anybody that they play, and they've certainly played extremely well against us in every game that we've played against them since I've been here."
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