Monday, November 23, 2009

The Aftermath of a Disgusting Display of LSU Football

It’s been two days since LSU fell to Ole Miss 25-23 in one of the most disgusting games I have seen in recent LSU history. I had to wait two days before I wrote anything about that game, after all no one wants to read a blog written entirely in CAPS lock.

But now I have to do the inevitable. I have to sort through the mess on the table that is called LSU football. The one thing that needs to be noted is my disgust in Saturday’s game does not entirely have to do with losing a game, or it being LSU’s third loss, or that it was against an arch rival, no it has to do with the manner in which LSU lost.

If LSU lost 25-23 in a hard fought game where the team lost on a 44 yard field goal to win the game I would be disappointed, but nowhere near what I, along with so many LSU fans, feel right now. In short, LSU’s team in, all facets, looked incompetent Saturday. The offense, defense, coaching and game plan where hideous to say the least. The funny thing is my dad pointed out an interesting thing during the game. This LSU team found a way to lose in the same manner the old Saints did. How many times can you remember in the past the Saints having a game wrapped up only to cough it up in the end? It was so painful to watch and by the looks of it is seems to be the new game plan LSU is now adopting.

First let’s evaluate the offense. For much of the game (especially the second half) the unit was about as efficient as Shaq at the free throw line. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson looked out of sorts. The delay of game penalties where nauseating as well as No. 9’s inability to understand that as a quarterback, eventually you have to throw the ball away. Jefferson will make three great plays in a row, followed by getting sacked after holding on the ball for three minutes, which will be proceeded by getting a delay of game penalty. I am getting used to seeing a 2nd and 5 explode into a 3rd and 14. Then again Jefferson is still a freshman quarterback and is still learning. Sure we expected him to be past these problems, but nonetheless his youth has to be taken into account. The same cannot be said for Brandon Lafell.

One of the most important aspects of a team is a quality, senior wide receiver that is, among other things, reliable. A senior wide receiver is supposed to fall into this sentence – “Geez that was a rough throw, but good thing (his name) was there or else it would have been incomplete. I’m glad he’s on our team that guy knows how to make a big play at a big moment.” In the past LSU has had numerous receivers fit this roll – Josh Reed, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and Early Doucet. Now I understand not all those guys where seniors but they understood the concept that they are the No. 1 wide receiver. It is there job to make the catch regardless of the circumstances or how it was thrown. Lafells missed this. His entire career he has shown great moments of concentration, yet at the same moment his entire career he has continuously dropped big passes in key moments. Saturday’s game against Ole Miss was the most troubling. There was a stat shown during the game that said Lafell had the ball thrown to him 8 times, but only had 3 catches. Granted you can say some where Jefferson’s fault, but I know of two that hit Lafell right in his hands, only to be dropped. A potential first round draft pick, I have to scratch my head and wonder why this senior, this No.1 wide receiver is still gagging on television during a big plays. Unacceptable.

With a stagnant offense, comes a lousy game plan. Despite having Jefferson back (only 70%) the LSU offense struggled for much of night. Blame can be put on Jefferson for only so much. At the end of the day the finger has to be pointed at Gary Crowton. Formally known as The Wizard I can only help but think that nickname has washed away. Even though the running game was doing a modest job, Crowton felt inclined to pass the ball every play. At the end of the game Jefferson threw the ball 37 times! Since when has Jefferson been a gunslinger to the point he will throw the ball 37 times in a game? The answer – he’s not. I have stood by Crowton for much of the year. After the Louisiana Tech game I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it was only because Jarrett Lee was quarterback. Yet after the collapse in Oxford I can only help but really question Crowton’s scheme. If LSU’s offense is doing as poorly as it is with the talent it has then in all honesty a new offensive coordinator needs to come in. Period.

Also why, oh why, Mr. Crowton would you think it would be appropriate to call the same two-point conversion play twice? Here is my problem a) Terrence Tolliver, despite his size, has never done one of those end zone leaps. It looks good on paper, but to try something like that at that moment was not a good decision. And b) so you did the play once, why the same one after the pass interference call? This is not backyard football. You cannot run the same play on a key moment in the game. LSU was two yards away from tying the score. It just baffles me.

And yes I do realize Crowton was not the only one calling plays. We will get to the head coach sooner or later.

As much as the offense as struggled this season, the defense has always remained solid for LSU. After some early games where the unit looked out of sorts, defensive coordinator John Chavis really got things under control as the team began giving up less than 20 points a game. For the majority of Ole Miss game the unit kept the Rebels in check. They did this until the biggest drive of the game.

Ole Miss got the ball at their own 35 yard line with 12:08 left in the game. Once the Rebels kicked a field goal to go up 25-17 the drive had lasted 15 plays and 60 yards and took over 8:26! On that drive Ole Miss completed a 3rd and 2, a 3rd and 1, and a 3rd and 7. The only consolation for the drive is that LSU did stop them on 3rd and Goal to give up only a field goal.

Even after the dreadful offensive play calling, the porous offense, and the inconsistent offense, LSU still had a chance to win the game at the end. They had the ball at the Ole Miss 32 with 1:04 left. Jefferson, again, got sacked, which followed by him throwing a silly screen pass to Stevan Ridley. The play ended with 26 seconds left in the game and counting. LSU would be facing a 4th and 26 and any person with a brain bigger than a peanut would realize, "Hmm why don't I call a timeout now? I mean I don't want to get a first down and have the clock run out on me." Well, apparently the Mad Hatter did not think this. In fact the Mad Hatter let 17 seconds run off the clock before a timeout was called with 9 seconds left. And of course the 4th and 26 was converted for 42 yards. LSU ran down the field to hike the ball once more, but with only 1 second remaining the Tigers were unable to hike the ball before the game ended. As long as I live I will never be able to remotely comprehend this. You are the head coach and you somehow, someway forget to call a timeout for 17 seconds? What is going on? In all honestly if the timeout was called with 12 seconds LSU would of had a chance, but the fact that it was called at 9 is absurd.

And this is why the Tiger Nation is in an uproar. In the biggest moment of the game Les Miles pulled one of the dumbest stunts in recent football history. He basically opted for a hail mary instead of getting into field goal position. A 10 year old kid would have enough sense to call timeout. This is inexcusable. Even more startling is the fact that after Jefferson completed that pass and one second remained, Jefferson was going to spike the ball. Jefferson you can not spike the ball under one second. This is not the NBA.

After you evaluate the game as a whole and after you see how the offense, defense, game plan, and coaching all underperformed you have to ask yourself, "What does this mean for LSU football?" Honestly, I do not know. I want to say Miles will get things back on track, but all too common LSU comes out on the field, plays like garbage for 3.5 quarters and then at the end makes a run to win the game. With the talent they have that is not acceptable. For the first time in his reign at LSU I have lost faith in Miles. I have lost this because I did not see a head coach leading his team, I saw a team who's head coach was confused in the game's biggest moment. Here is an article I wrote one year ago. I stated that Miles needed to turn things around our his seat would really start to get warm. One year later LSU is better, but not by much. Put it this way - if LSU falls to Arkansas and their bowl game they will finish with the exact same record as 2008. Trust me, that is not out of the question.

Things seem to be slipping for Miles to the point an inevitable landslide might soon be taking place. How will he and his team respond? It will be interesting. One thing is for sure - if Miles has another sloppy finish to his season in 2010 there is no reason to think he will not be let go.

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