A show I enjoy watching is Seinfeld. One scene in Seinfeld best sums up how I felt as a fan after LSU's 32-10 lackluster win against McNeese State on Saturday.
In this particular episode George Costanza wants to continue to receive his unemployment check so he tells the unemployment office that he is currently seeking a job with Vandelay Industries. Vandelay Industries is a fictional latex manufacturing business George has made up. The number for Vandelay Industries is Jerry's home number. George tells Jerry every time he answers the phone he needs to say, "Vandelay Industries" all so the unemployment office never finds out Vandelay Industries does not exist. Eventually Kramer reveals to a caller from the unemployment office that there is no Vandelay Industries and George's little plan is ruined. In a little ditch effort to get Kramer to say Vandelay Industries to the caller, George storms out of the bathroom with his pants down to his ankles. George lays on the ground in his boxers with his head in his arms once he realizes the gig is up. At this moment Jerry walks through the door and sees George on the floor where he remarks with a grin,
"And you want to be my latex salesman?"
(Here is a clip from Youtube that shows this scene. I did my best to describe it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T35QhLx_KI)
On Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, I, along with every other LSU fan, was Jerry Seinfeld and George Constanza was the LSU football team. After the game I just wanted to say, "And LSU, I'm supposed to think you are a national championship contender after a performance like that?"
Where do you start? One week removed from an impressive road victory at Florida, the LSU offense once again looked stagnant. As a whole the team look uninspired and flat out lousy, but they did win. Now before we all jump the gun and really start blowing this latest game out of proportion let me touch on a couple things.
Last week I was listening to ESPN Radio 104.5 one day after work when the host predicted LSU would win 56-10 against McNeese State. Someone else had LSU winning 44-6. Despite hearing the scores I always kind of felt LSU would win something along the lines of 30-10. Did I expect LSU to look at sloppy as it did on offense? No. Did I think Jordan Jefferson would regress even more? No. But I did think LSU would play great defense and okay offense.
Look winning 56-10 or 44-6 would of been terrific, but we need to stop acting like this 32-10 performance was all that surprising. LSU has a sort of M.O. where they play to their competition. If the Tigers play a very good football team Les Miles and his crew usually show up. If it's a subpar team LSU has shown in the past that it can play a sloppy game. (Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech 2009)
I am not defending LSU's play on Saturday, I am simply pointing out something Les Miles's teams have a tendency to do: play to their competition. But there really is no need to overstate this game. LSU played sloppy, McNeese State (whatever you say) was motivated to be playing LSU and LSU's offense was pitiful on both execution and play calling. Now onto the quarterback situation that never seems to get old.
I hope Jordan Jefferson turns it around, but at this point Les Miles needs to seriously think what is best for the team. (Keyword: BEST) And right now playing Jarrett Lee for at least 70% of the snaps and Jordan Jefferson 30% is LSU's best option and hope to sustain their current record. Jefferson is not simply playing sub par or average, Jefferson is playing bad football plain and simple. I hate to see him regress so much from last year, but he really has taken a turn for the worst. Various times against McNeese State, Jefferson continued to do the same silly mistakes he can not seem to grow out of. Jefferson struggles on deciding whether to scramble or throw and if there is any defensive line penetration he immediately bails out on the plays instead of standing in the pocket and waiting for a play to develop.
In recent weeks Jarrett Lee has been successful throwing the football. During an interview this week you could tell Jordan Jefferson wanted to be able to throw the ball more. The issue with that is Jefferson was given an opportunity to throw earlier in the season, but he failed. Even now on a crucial third down Jefferson shows an inability to make the throw.
Again, I hope for the best for Jefferson, but there needs to be some sort of accountability. If you play bad at defensive tackle do the coaches keep you in? Maybe, but if you continue to play bad I am sure the coaches would put someone else in. Same goes for every position, but apparently not for the quarterback. Jefferson is not producing, while Lee is.
The answer is not that difficult when you watch both quarterbacks play. Lee is no superstar, but he can move the offense, make plays and during crunch time keep the team in check. I do not see that with Jefferson. I see a nervous quarterback who has zero confidence and continues to have three and out drives. Worse, when the game is on the line he has a sort of "deer in the head lights" look on his face. The quarterback is the leader. When the chips are down he is supposed to be the guy that leads his team to victory. In Jefferson when things are not going well they seem to snowball for him. LSU still needs Jefferson to win games, but more importantly they need to play Jarrett Lee more.
I hope the coaches see that.
I understand Jordan Jefferson is struggling immensely and is frustrating to watch, but the booing towards him when he's playing bad needs to stop. (Keep in mind the play calling did not help at all during certain plays.) I can not tell you how ashamed I am when I am in the stadium and I hear two people in front of wanting Jefferson's blood because of his struggles. Booing a 20 year old does not make things any easier, in fact it makes you look like an idiot.
The majority of LSU's problem on Saturday dealt with the offense, still I think there is one thing the defense needs to improve. Whether or not a team wins most of the time comes down to how that team did on third down. Third down conversions are the difference between winning and losing. Against Florida, LSU had three touchdowns that happened on third down. The thing that always gets to me is for three quarters LSU plays lights out defense on third down, but now and then in the fourth quarter that third down defense plummets. Yes, I know it is late in the game and players are tired and the opponent is more motivate considering the game is almost over, but still LSU needs to step up on third down defense in the fourth quarter.
LSU's defense is based off the principle of, "we'll let you get 5 yards, but can you do that for 80 yards?" An opponent might get short passes on the Tigers, but can they do that for 12 consecutive plays and score points? Most of the time the answer is no, but it does happen.
Last year against Ole Miss, LSU was down 22-17 with 12:08 left in the fourth quarter. Ole Miss got the ball at their 35 yard line. The Rebels went 60 yards in 15 plays. They chewed off 8:26 off the clock and converted a 3rd and 2, a 3rd and 10 and a 3rd and 7. In the Penn State game LSU lead 17-16. The Nittany Lions went on a 12 play, 65 yard drive that chewed up 5:57 and resulted in the winning points. On that drive LSU gave up a 3rd and 3 and 3rd and 4. Even this year that problem has surfaced. Against Florida, LSU gave up a 51 yard pass on 3rd and 8 and this past week against McNeese State,LSU let McNeese convert three third downs before stopping the Cowboys on downs. Great defenses prevent this.
Let me clarify: this is not as big of a problem as say the quarterback play, but this defense has tremendous potential to be special. When you are a special unit you make plays in all quarters, in all games, all the time.
On Saturday LSU's defense will get a real test against Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton. LSU's fourth quarter third down defense is as important to the outcome of this game as their quarterback play.