As the days tick down to Monday’s highly anticipated BCS National Championship game, tensions are starting to rise between Alabama and LSU players. While both teams respect each other, each team features its set of highly passionate players who not only play a good game, but talk one as well.
LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is never one to shy away from on-field banter. The “Honey Badger,” as he was nicknamed for his ferocious play on the field, is just as imposing verbally as he is physically.
“I got that from Patrick (Peterson),” Mathieu said. “You try to get the edge any way you got to. When you are on the field you’re just having fun, you’re just talking. If you can get a player out of his zone, you win the battle.”
When asked if there was anyone who he knew of that rivaled his trash-talking, Mathieu said he could not recall anyone.
“I’m not trying to be arrogant about that,” Mathieu said. “We are so good on defense, nobody wants to get in a shouting match with me and then line up on the other side of the field with [Morris Claiborne].”
Wednesday, Mathieu told the media he was getting ready for the Alabama players, by looking up their mother’s names. Whether it will rattle Crimson Tide players is yet to be seen. However, defensive tackle Josh Chapman said trash talking is just part of the game and does not affect him.
“It don’t matter. if they find out my momma’s name, then so be it,” Chapman said. “Trash talk only really affects guys who don’t know how to handle it.”
Chapman encouraged LSU players to research him, saying anything that removed LSU’s focus from the game would be highly encouraged.
“I hope a lot of them know my momma’s name,” Chapman said, “because if they’re trying to do that much to find out your momma’s name then you’re doing too much besides learning about some football.”
However, not all Tide players are happy with Mathieu getting relatives involved.
“I really don’t care what he say, he don’t know my momma,” wide receiver Marquis Maze said. “Whatever he says, he just don’t need to say the wrong thing.”
When ask what would happen if Mathieu were to bring family members into it, Maze said his opinions of the Heisman finalist would change.
“Then I won’t have any respect for him,” he said. “I have respect for him, but if he says something about anyone in my family, I will have real problems with it.”
Maze is known for his willingness to exchange verbal blows on the field.
“He’s definitely one of the more chatty players on that team,” Mathieu said.
However Maze stated that he keeps his trash-talk between the players he is up against, and leaves out relatives.
“I trash talk, but I mainly keep peoples families out of it,” Maze said. “We just trash talk between me and you.”
The two players have mixed it up in the past, with both Maze and Mathieu getting in each others faces during the teams’ last meeting on Nov. 5.
“I’ve seen Tyrann go back and forth with a couple people,” LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne said. “Maze is one, I’ve seen him go back and forth with Maze.”
Not everyone on the field will be a part of the trash talking. Claiborne said he usually just keeps to himself on the field.
“I’m a type of laid back guy,” Claiborne said. “If a guy caught a ball on me and said something, I’d just be like whatever. I’ve never been the trash-talking type.”
Claiborne serves as almost the parental figure of LSU’s secondary, knowing when to hold players back when things get too heated.
“I feel like that with all the defensive backs out there,” Claiborne said. “We got a feisty bunch back there. Sometimes I find myself being the peacemaker.”
Monday’s title match is sure to see some heated moments, but Claiborne said the team’s confidence is more about helping the team relax and less about insulting the opposition.
“We try to have a lot of swagger,” Claiborne said. “We feel like if we can go out and be confident in ourselves and play the way we are capable of playing, it’s been working for us.”