BATON ROUGE, La. -- A couple weeks ago, a Southern Miss defensive back who will remain unnamed ran his mouth when the underdog Golden Eagles were hanging tough against LSU.
That should come as no surprise. Trash talking is as common in football as Leonard Fournette runs up the gut under Les Miles. But this nameless USM player also knew he was taking a risk by engaging Tigers players, and he soon paid the price.
"He told me and D.J. [Chark] that the receivers weren't good," LSU receiver Travin Dural said. "On the next drive, we got a long touchdown to D.J. Next drive, touchdown to Malachi [Dupre]. So we kind of went up to him and told him, 'You don't know what you done started. Here come the big plays rolling in left and right.' So that's kind of something that he, I guess, kind of fueled us to make those big plays where before we weren't really too hot. Immediately after that, we turned it up."
If that opposing DB's goal was to rattle Dural and Co. or get into their heads, he picked the wrong group of wideouts to engage. Not necessarily because of their ability to make him pay -- although that did happen -- but because it's going to be difficult to hit them with something they haven't heard before.
LSU's defensive backs are a collection of first-team All-America-caliber talkers who won't hesitate to remind opponents exactly how good they are. The Tigers' receivers hear from the likes of cornerback Donte Jackson and safety Jamal Adams non-stop throughout every practice.
"I'm a huge competitor," Jackson said. "That's why I like playing the position corner and that's why I like running track because it's all about competition and stuff. So when I'm talking trash, it's really just trying to get me to get my motor going. It's really nothing against the person who I'm actually going against."
Trash talk is commonplace among defensive backs especially, but there might be even more of it at LSU these days now that Ed Orgeron has taken over as interim coach. After taking over on Sept. 25, Orgeron installed a themed daily practice schedule and named the second practice each week "Competition Tuesday."
Tuesday's practices feature lots of head-to-head competition between position groups, and the battles between the receivers and DBs include plenty of chirping.
"In one-on-ones, they have the upper hand to me," senior safety Dwayne Thomas said. "I always say one-on-ones is the offense's drill, and when they catch balls on us, they celebrate together, they talk a lot of trash and we get mad."
There's only so much even mellow guys like Dural and Dupre can take, said tight end Colin Jeter, who credited fiery new receivers coach Dameyune Craig for amping up the competition between his players and those from LSU's self-proclaimed "Defensive Back University."
"I think the receivers got tired of just hearing all the DBU trash talk from those guys," Jeter said. "Now Coach Craig's got our receivers going back at them, so it's always entertaining in practice."
According to Dupre, "I feel like the defensive backs, once one starts, they all start. That can have an effect, when they all start talking. I think that's when the receivers start retaliating."
Chark is LSU's most likely wideout to engage with opponents on game day, but the Tigers' trash talking on Saturdays mostly comes from the secondary.
Thomas said that's simply part of the competitive nature of playing his position -- and also because he and his teammates sometimes have a point to prove.
"When I get to the game, I'm already hyped and I'm already pumped and I already want to talk trash to the opponent just because I'm tired of them talking social media-wise," Thomas said. "It's like, 'We're here now. Talk to me now if y'all want to talk trash.' "
So who talks the most aside from Jackson and Adams?
Among the receivers, Thomas advises opponents to do whatever they can to prevent freshman Dee Anderson from making a big play.
"Don't let him catch a touchdown," Thomas laughed. "Oh man. If you let him catch a touchdown, he might take his helmet off and run up and down the stadium."
Defensively, teammates say All-SEC cornerback Tre'Davious White is less of an initiator than a guy who will shut up those who test him.
"When you make Tre'Davious White mad, oh he'll get there," Thomas said. "He'll start talking a whole lot of trash and he'll back it up big-time. Don't make him mad. His game will go to a whole other level, for real."
Added Dural, "Once you get him going, he doesn't stop. He's not really a guy who does it from the first snap to the last snap. You have to provoke him. I've seen him mad and I've seen him riled up. That's not the guy you want to be mad and riled up with you."
That's generally the goal of talking smack, however. Make an opponent angry. Get him off his game. Exploit that distraction by making a play against him. Repeat.
It doesn't work against every opponent, and some players simply don't have the personality to involve themselves in that stuff. But whether they like it or not, and whether they do it themselves or not, it's going to be there in every practice and every game.
"It's part of football and it's something you expect to come every weekend," Dural said. "So it's not something that you have to mentally prepare for, but you just have to know that you can't let it mentally affect you."