If You Have Your Health ...

Those were some banged-up LSU Tigers by the time they got past Tennessee to win the SEC Championship Game.

After all, the leader of the offense, senior quarterback Matt Flynn, couldn't even play, he was so injured. The leader of the defense, senior lineman Glenn Dorsey, was so hurt that he missed most of the game, too.

"This has been a good break," Dorsey said Monday.

There were others who limped into the finish line as the Tigers bounced back from the day-after-Thanksgiving defeat to Arkanas. They didn't want to become the first LSU team to lose back-to-back games since the 2002 season, when it also fell in the regular-season finale to Arkansas and then got whipped by Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Of course, the next year LSU won it all, capping a magical season to win the BCS national championship. That's the goal again as the second-ranked Tigers prepare for their January 7, 2008, matchup with No. 1 Ohio State.

LSU is back in practice, but there are still lingering effects from all the end-of-season bumps and bruises.

Third-year coach Les Miles rarely discusses his players' injuries in depth and often not at all. After a much-needed break, LSU is back together and going at it full steam, but practices are closed, so we don't know exactly how much the hurting Tigers have healed.

Sources tell WAFB that Flynn, who was replaced by Ryan Perrilloux in the SEC title game, will have a hard time making it through the BCS title game with the shoulder injury that sidelined him in Atlanta.

Dorsey, whose postseason has seen him garner the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Lott Trophy and Nagurski Award, making him, simply the best defensive player in the game, said he feels a lot better. But not 100 percent.

"I'm feeling better. I'm ready to get after it at practice," Dorsey said. "This might be the best I've felt since camp."

Dorsey had a number of maladies, including a sore tailbone, and wasn't lucky his season wasn't ended entirely against Auburn on October 20 when he was the victim of a vicious chop block for which Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville later apologized and castigated the player who did it.

Dorsey said this season was the worst ever for his body.

"Nothing was even close. In high school (at East Ascension) I had a little shin injury and played through it," Dorsey said. "But I was pretty banged up this year."

But he's not complaining.

"Looking back on all that, it was worth it, because we're playing in the big game. That's my motivation; that's my focus."

There are few Tigers who didn't need the time to heal. Return specialist and running back Trindon Holliday had his sprained ankle, wideout Early Doucet battled a terribly pulled groin from midseason on, linebacker Darry Beckwith has a sore ankle, defensive back Craig Steltz was black and blue and bruised all over, running back Keiland Williams is nursing a sore knee, and Perrilloux cut his finger pretty bad against Tennessee.

And that doesn't include defensive lineman Charles Alexander, who won't make it back for the game.

But then there's Will Arnold, the offensive lineman who is recovering well from a viral infection that affected his knees. Arnold will probably play and that's a great story.

As they say, if you have your health you have everything.

"If we're healthy, we can come out and do what we're supposed to do," Dorsey said with a smile, "and that's play football and run to the ball."

No one would argue that LSU needs that on January 7.