by Tim Reynolds
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) -- Skyler Green knows real turmoil. And changing starting quarterbacks doesn't qualify.
When Hurricane Katrina made its devastating pass across the Gulf Coast shortly before football season began in earnest, the two-bedroom apartment the LSU wide receiver shares with teammate Brian Johnson turned into temporary housing for family and friends displaced by the storm.
At one time, more than 20 people were living in the crammed space.
"It's been a long road," said Green, the Tigers' speedy kick returner and receiver who accounted for 1,047 all-purpose yards this season. "And I think this team has handled it pretty well."
The season finale is bringing one more challenge for 10th-ranked LSU to overcome. The Tigers will play No. 9 Miami in the Peach Bowl on Friday night with Matt Flynn starting at quarterback instead of JaMarcus Russell, who's sidelined with a badly separated shoulder and a wrist injury that could require surgery.
Some teams would be in meltdown mode about now, prepping to use a first-time starter at quarterback in a bowl game. Yet after what LSU's gone through this year, such a change doesn't seem problematic at all.
"Matt is a great quarterback," Green said. "He comes to practice every day ready to play. He's been having great practices and that's where we build our confidence, in practice. If he has a great game, that'll build his confidence even more....He's looking like he's ready to play."
The right-handed Russell separated his left shoulder in LSU's loss to Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game at the Georgia Dome on Dec. 3.
Flynn has completed 14 of 26 passes for 261 yards and five touchdowns this season, with most of those stats -- 7-for-7, 139 yards and three touchdowns -- coming in LSU's 56-3 win over North Texas on Oct. 29.
It's been a trying year for the Tigers, starting on Christmas 2004 when former coach Nick Saban announced he was leaving and taking over as coach of the Miami Dolphins. And as this season was beginning, Katrina smashed the region and forced LSU to postpone one home game, then move another to Arizona.
Despite all that, LSU persevered and was ranked third - with faint national title-shot hopes -- entering the SEC championship game. A 34-14 loss to Georgia in that matchup, though, knocked the Tigers down seven spots in the AP Top 25 poll and sent them back to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl.
"I'm not surprised how this team was able to hold it together," LSU defensive end Melvin Oliver said. "We have a strong character group. Coach Saban recruited some great character guys. We have some guys who are really strong mentally, and that's why we've come through this and held up great."