The eye in sky sees everything.
In this age of limitless camera angles and replays, there are very few things that go unseen on a football field. It could catch an outburst from a head coach or a player sulking after a bad series.
But Saturday night, it summed up a friendship as well as a defensive mentality.
As the ESPN cameras panned the LSU sideline late in Saturday’s 37-17 win against Mississippi State, they caught Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery standing on the sideline chatting after recording sacks on back-to-back plays. But before the action returned, Montgomery, who had a towel in hand, wiped a bit of spit off Mingo’s face.
“I just spit and we were talking and I guess he got tired of it and just wiped it off my face. I remember thinking why was he doing that,” Mingo said.
The moment seemed normal enough to the two linemen, who have dominated opposite ends of the defensive line together for two seasons now. It was so routine, in fact, that neither player really even remembered the moment before friends reminded them of it.
“I didn’t think anything of it then someone sent me the video of it today,” Mingo said. “He just wiped my face and nothing was said about it.”
Montgomery may have just wiped Mingo’s face, but it encapsulated what the two mean to each other and what they mean to their unit.
They’re friends, as well as caretakers.
“The summer time in here will make you love a man unconditionally,” Montgomery said in a kidding, but sincere way.
That comment isn’t the only joke between the two.
Mingo’s sack Saturday was a bit strange, as he made what appeared to be gentle contact with Bulldog quarterback Tyler Russell, even though he had a clean shot at him.
“I was waiting on him to bring the ball up,” Mingo said. “I was going to try and knock it out of his hands and he never did. It was a big let down. I knew he was going to pick the ball up and I was going to knock it out. But he never got it up and I was kind of disappointed.”
Montgomery quipped that Mingo unsuccessfully attempted to mimic his actions.
“I don’t understand what he does. He tried to power up like me. It was horrible.”
The dynamic defensive ends have combined for 31.5 career sacks and have both received acclaim as having first round NFL Draft potential. So it would not be a surprise if Saturday’s home finale against Ole Miss is the final time Tiger fans get to see the two play together in Death Valley.
While neither would speculate on their future plans, there’s no doubt they’re already making sure the younger linemen get the same words of wisdom they have used in their own careers.
“I’m trying to teach all those guys what they need to do so we can continue to be a traditional LSU defense,” Montgomery said. “It’s one of those things that regardless of what happens, I want those guys to do good.”
The lessons Montgomery is preaching are not technique or scheme driven, but things that can only be transferred from player to player.
“I tell [the young linemen] things before the games, like how to silence the crowd, how to finish,” he said. “I taught them so many little phrases and I said ‘One day you’re going to have to do all these things. One day you’re going to be the one who has to be mature.’ It was just like Drake Nevis taught me. He trained me very well. And now I’m trying to train Danielle Hunter and other guys now as well as a couple other guys.
That’s not to say they can’t impart wisdom on the field, as well.
With little experience in the defensive secondary, they’ve willingly put more emphasis on their role to ease the load of the backs.
“We want to make it as easy for the defense and the offense as possible,” Mingo said. “But as for the secondary, if we can get in the quarterback’s face and force bad throws, we’re making it easier on them. And with the young group, we know we have to do that. They’re playing great, and holding their own.”
Whether it’s wiping spit off one another’s face or picking each other up after wiping out a quarterback, if Mingo and Montgomery do depart Baton Rouge following this season, the legacy of these two friends will forever be as one of the fiercest duos in LSU’s deep defensive lore.