The fallout from Saturday’s devastating loss to Ole Miss has been tremendous, and rightfully so. Today, the national media took their turn using Les Miles as a punching bag, calling him everything from a “liar” to a “nincompoop.” I’d say they were being rather kind. The coaching blunders, confusion, lack of control, and complete idiocy that took place in the final 1:17 of the game are inexcusable for a football team at any level, much less a supposed elite college football program like LSU.
The coaching staff screwed up a number of things, but their worst decision may have been the one that’s talked about the least. I’m referring to the absolutely horrific call for a fade pass for the potential game-tying two point conversion. And that was from the one yard line, since Ole Miss was penalized on LSU’s first conversion attempt, also a fade pass. Terrible, terrible call. Gary Crowton needs to update his resume as soon as possible. I’ll always be thankful for the offense we saw in 2007, but that creativity and imagination is long gone from Crowton’s brain…for whatever reason. LSU’s offense is stale. It doesn’t maximize talent. It doesn’t always play the best players. And it has failed to create a way to utilize the most electric freshman in the country. It’s time for a new offense.
Once LSU managed to cover the onsides kick, they moved the ball to the Ole Miss 32 yard line with two timeouts and plenty of time. LSU was looking at a 49 yard field goal at that point. Josh Jasper had already kicked a 50 yarder earlier in the game. But a 49 yard field goal is no gimme, and LSU needed to try to get closer. But you absolutely can NOT run a risky play and risk losing yardage. You just can’t do it when you’re right on the edge of your kicker’s range. On first down, LSU threw a quick pass that got batted down at the line of scrimmage. Fine. But on second down, they inexplicably called for Jefferson to take a seven step drop with Ole Miss showing a blitz. Jefferson was sacked. They followed up that gem with a screen pass that was caught eight yards behind the line of scrimmage. Those two moronic play calls lost LSU the football game. The events that followed have earned the focus of critics across the nation and while they may have showcased the ineptitude of LSU’s coaching staff a bit more clearly, the play calls on 2nd and 3rd down lost the game for the Tigers.
The confusion and disbelief of the final play is only matched by the confusion and disbelief after the game. Les Miles “didn’t know” who told Jefferson to spike the ball. The head coach doesn’t know who sends the play calls to his quarterback? Wonderful. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. We all know what happened, and I haven’t talked to anyone yet who is real pleased with the coaching staff.
Thus far, I’ve only discussed the circus on LSU’s sideline during the final 1:17 of the football game. What’s maybe most disturbing is how poorly the Tigers were prepared for this game. Ole Miss dominated the football game and frankly, LSU was very fortunate to be within striking distance at the game’s end. For the second straight year, I was forced to watch a less talented Ole Miss team shove a football up LSU’s @$$ on national television. I’m not real happy about it either.
Why stop with the Ole Miss game? LSU is one of the three most talented teams in the SEC, but the coaching staff has squandered that talent for the last two years. LSU has compiled a 7-9 SEC record over their last 16 league games. Of those seven wins, only two are against teams that finished, or will finish, with a winning record (South Carolina finished 7-6 last year, Auburn is 7-4 right now). If Georgia wins their last game this year, they can increase that number to three. LSU has also lost eight straight games against the likes of Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. Les Miles is the fifth highest paid coach in the nation. Do you feel like those results are indicative of having such a highly paid coaching staff? Me neither.
Many are talking about replacing Les Miles as head coach. I’ve been a Les Miles supporter for a long time, but I can’t support the stupidity I saw on the sidelines against Ole Miss nor can I support the declining results of a recently elite program. For his sake, Les Miles needs to win the Arkansas game. With a win against Arkansas, LSU will play in either the Capital One or the Cotton Bowl with a chance to end the season 10-3 and ranked in the Top 12 nationally. LSU is not firing a coach who just completed a 9-3 regular season and is heading to a New Year’s Day bowl game. Not happening. A loss to Arkansas will throw gasoline on this growing inferno, and then talks of a firing might have some validity. If that happens, then we’ll discuss the job security of Miles at that time. As long as LSU has a chance to finish with a 10-win season, I prefer to focus on that as much as possible.
Here are some pictures of the new Nike uniforms that LSU will wear against Arkansas on Saturday. These uniforms were first reported here on this blog.