I've got one huge question right now that I'd love to scream into the P.A. microphone from the top of tiger stadium; what is up with my fellow LSU Tiger fans?
I have felt like the most negative LSU fan throughout the course of the entire season.
Suddenly, after one game, I again find myself strongly disagreeing with the masses —but on the other side of the argument. Have I become the most positive Tiger fan?
I know the end of the Tennessee game felt like it was going to be "The Ole Miss Debacle" all over again, but I'm asking you guys to remember the whole game — not just the last play!
Yes. I admit that it would've been disgusting for LSU to lose in the manner in which they very nearly did. But seeing as they didn't, let's look at a few things:
1) Even though they weren't as blatantly obvious and even though most of them didn't come in the last seconds of the game — Tennessee got their fair share of breaks.
— Dropped passes, penalties, turnovers, an injury to Sam Montgomery, AN INJURY TO OUR CENTER ON THE SECOND TO LAST PLAY OF THE GAME, and Lee coming into what was supposed to be a cakewalk/ "get your feet wet" type game that turned out to be a grinder — which forced the staff to play Jordan Jefferson in more situations than they probably actually wanted to.
2) For the first time IN TWO YEARS, I didn't feel completely frustrated while watching the game.
— The coaches didn't seem like they were over-coaching, over-thinking, or over-planning the game — save your sarcasm clever posters — again, I'm referring to the general game plan... not the last 30 seconds.
They put the personnel in the game that they thought would perform the best on each and every down, they called each down FOR that down (as opposed to calling plays to throw the defense off balance or to try and make them respect some ineffective play or player as a threat), they put their play makers in positions to make plays, and they unleashed Jarrett Lee.
I saw bubble screens to Russel Sheppard, I didn't see 20 mega-predictable option runs, they put their trust in Ridley as their work horse, and they called & converted passes on non-passing downs — which is the ONLY way our O-line can offer sufficient protection.
3) I stated in a comment after the Miss St. game that LSU was going to run into trouble if they didn't get the passing game in gear because they weren't going to be able to do these things in every game they played:
A) Score on special teams
B) Dominate the turnover margin
C) Completely bottle up the opposing offense
D) Lead the entire 4th quarter
E) Wear down the opposing defense by pounding the run over and over
I said they'd be in trouble if they didn't do three out of those five things.
Well they didn't do ANY of them, and... they still won the football game.
Forget the frantic panic at the end. We came out on top of it -- Aleva is going to get on Miles' back about the confusion, and Miles actually already took responsibility for the situation.
He specifically said that the problem was on the sidelines. He got away with one, and he knows it.
Yes, yes, yes, and yes... it wasn't a pretty sight to behold, and it was a near disaster.
4) Throw out the last 30 seconds, and you're looking at the most improvement b/w games that we've seen in this team all year.
— NOBODY was concerned with seeing improvement on the defensive side of the ball. NOBODY was concerned with seeing LSU run the ball better. NOBODY was concerned with LSU finding more guys to play in skill positions.
EVERYBODY wanted to see improvement in the passing game. EVERYBODY wanted to see improvement in the offensive play calling, and EVERYBODY wanted to see Jarrett Lee get off some quality passes.
I'm not overly concerned with what the media or power rankings say... this is the best I've felt about our football team in two years!
They finally did something different on offense... they went out there hungry, they didn't endure -- they fought hard against the grain, and they TOOK that game from Tennessee (who, might I add, played a good game and has an extremely underrated team).
Jarrett Lee's performance was INSPIRING. He was thrown into the fire, he got burned once (pick in the end zone), he came back from it, and led the team down the field for the game winning drive. I can't imagine what was running through his head! He showed up.
Don't let the last play overshadow that.
Please Tiger fans, before you throw them under the bus, look beneath the surface.
I feel like pent up frustration from the first 4 weeks is coming out of a lot of fans because we've really just been itching to see LSU dominate somebody for sixty minutes... and they didn't. But I honestly didn't expect them to dominate Tennessee.
Now, I was there. I understand the frustration. Go ahead and let it out.
But go back later, look at the game again, and try to see what your emotions may have caused you to miss the first time around.
I know we've got the meat of the schedule coming up, and I think Florida, Bama, Auburn, and Arkansas might BEAT us... but all this talk about how they're going to CRUSH us? It's just not going to happen. We're going to give those teams good games.
The clock-management issue, the penalties, and the turnovers may all be very frustrating, but they're also all relatively EASY problems to fix in comparison to not being able to effectively throw the ball.
Basically, I was much more happy to see Lee come to play the way that he did than I was disappointed to see how the last 30 seconds panned out along with the other issues mentioned above. Even if we'd lost that game, I'd have still seen that little light at the end of the tunnel in the team's future.
And you don't have to tell me that Tennessee's passing defense is weak. I know this -- but I've seen us struggle against the worst. There was, no doubt, improvement. There is, no doubt, potential.
We've got a great defense, we've got great special teams, and now it looks as if we may have an offense that will at least be able to pull it's own weight. If the improvement continues, they're going to be real contenders.
I think the team as a whole — coaches and players included — grew and learned a lot about themselves from this game.
5) A lot of information has surfaced regarding the last 30 seconds of this game since I initially wrote this article:
I'll list the most interesting ones:
A) LSU called two plays when they sent Jefferson in... Jefferson forgot the second play.
B) Crowton called for the play which required the package change after realizing that Jefferson forgot the play -- when Miles heard the play call, he threw off his headset and made sure that the Tigers had the right amount of guys lined up in the right spots.
C) Miles didn't put the headset back on and called the Ridley run himself from the sideline.
Take that information and make what you will of it. Les Miles still has my support.
6) I'd like to clarify that I don't think Jarrett Lee is going to come out and instantly answer all of the Tiger's problems.
It's not going to be like a just-add-water instant soup.
It'll be more like smoking a good sausage... it might not turn out like we hope — but the meat has been well aged, and the potential is certainly there.
Only time will tell, but it's obvious that we will be in a better position with Lee in a week or two than we have been with Jefferson all season.
That is all. Geaux Tigers.