LSU Tigers annual report card
After another year of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, here is my report card for the LSU Tigers' regular season.
From start to finish, many will be pleased with a 10-2 team, while others will still be disappointed. So here is my honest opinion of the pros and cons to the season.
No matter what result in a bowl game the Tigers will achieve, the season at hand validated what many LSU fans already knew...
LSU Defense Bright Spot - Tyrann Mathieu
Before you get all uptight and think I'm being too harsh, forget what the media has fed you all year long about LSU having a GREAT defense. While some stats showed good play, certain games revealed major weaknesses that need to be addressed.
Instead of breaking the defense down in too much detail, I'd rather keep it short and simple.
LSU CBs played particularly well. A special bright spot for me was the youngster Tyrann Mathieu, and of course junior Patrick Peterson. Speaking of PP, he is a very good player, but no Heisman candidate. Early signs of some weakness was during the Tennessee game, where on two distinct plays, although Peterson had the wide angle on Tennessee running back Tauren Poole, he was beat to the outside from lack of speed. One of which led to a Vols TD. There are also examples of WRs running by him on the outside.
If LSU ever will have a defensive Heisman candidate, it may be Mathieu. A play I will never forget was his strip of Moody in the Florida game, and then his cat like 'pounce' on the ball. Great, great effort.
LSU safety play was suspect. It seems they were more concerned about hitting someone instead of taking proper angles to make saving tackles. I was not impressed with Karnell Hatcher at all. The last game against Arkansas should be all you need to see. I would keep working Eric Reid to be the main guy next season.
LSU line and LBs played solid, but seemed to lack the tackling skills needed against running teams like Ole Miss and Auburn. Drake Nevis is a beast, however.
LSU Offensive Bright Spot Stevan Ridley
All I can think of is how can so much talent get so misplaced...Oh wait, that's the coaching grade coming up....
LSU's offense was, simply put, disappointing.
LSU QBs were terrible at times, and "so-so" at the best of times. What can you say about Jordan Jefferson. He shows less skills now than he did when he was a rookie. He consistently panics when under pocket pressure and has poor field vision. LSU's last offensive play of this regular season is all you need to see. Jarrett Lee played the best between the two, but he still has poor accuracy on many passes, even short screens. There is no bright spot here.
LSU RBs, especially Stevan Ridley, were a nice bright spot this year. Although Stevan isn't the fastest guy out there, he runs with passion and milks every yard he can out of each attempt. Other promising efforts from Ford, Ware and Blue will keep the RB position looking good for years...It was also good to see senior Richard Murphy make a nice healthy return to the field. You could see glimpses of his ability and wonder 'what if.'
LSU WRs are hard to judge if you look at the numbers because we didn't have anyone who could consistently throw them the ball. When you look at the size, speed and cutting ability, we have some of the best WRs in college football. It is just a shame we have such poor QBs.
LSU O-line was average. Still not the dominant line Les Miles keeps promising, but they were better than last year.
The offense's grade is greatly weighted by its most important position: QB.
If LSU even had average QB play, the offensive grade would have skyrocketed due to the talent at hand.
Unfortunately, the numbers don't lie.
LSU Special Teams - Josh Jasper
LSU special teams this year were very good. I cannot remember when the last time was that LSU had such a good kicker/punter like Josh Jasper. When you think of the kicks and the trick plays this guy has made, he was truly a bright spot for the LSU team.
Return coverage was also good this year. Although not perfect, I didn't see any teams with better coverage overall. It would be hard for any SEC team to go through a schedule without giving up a couple of big returns.
How can a coaching staff that has led its team to a 10-2 record get an D- grade? Because it has great talent that can win games in spite of its coaches.
LSU's head coach Les Miles continues to show, week in and out, poor clock management, lack of motivation skills, lack of discipline, lack of player development and poor communication skills. Basically, every skill of being a head coach, he lacks.
I'm sure he may be a "nice guy," but that doesn't cut it when you have the continued problems LSU has brought to the field. I could go on for days with examples, but if you've watched any of this year's games, you'll see all you need.
Just look at the LSU QB play this year, and think that Oregon's star QB Darron Thomas, who committed to LSU, was told he wasn't good enough to play QB at LSU, but would need to play another position. The same can be said about LSU's "jack of all trades" player Russell Shepard, there is no way you could tell me he would've done worse at QB than what LSU produced this year. Yet, you rarely see this kid who was the nations top recruit a short time ago.
Player evaluation is pathetic at LSU.
LSU's OC Gary Crowton has to take much of the blame for lack of the ability to adapt to the weapons he has. Without going over LSU's poor QB play, you at least would expect him to pick up on the strengths of the LSU players and let them bring their best to the field. Example: Jordan Jefferson has never showed pocket presence, and yet over half of his pass attempts come from that spot being the line.
Another issue is the play book. Is this a high school play book? When you see up to five 'bubble screens" in one game, you have to wonder. LSU has incredible speed and height at QB and yet you rarely ever saw long pass attempts down the field.
LSU's DC John Chavis was the best of the bunch. If it wasn't for his defensive schemes, LSU would have lost at least four or five more games this year. Still, his lack of ability to change plans during a game were very evident in the Auburn game as well as the Ole Miss and Arkansas battles. There was absolutely no excuse for the lack of run blitzes against Cam Newton in the AU game. The LBs and safeties continued to sit back and react too slowly to Cam once he broke containment.
This bunch would easily get an F if it wasn't for Chavis.
Overall, in my opinion, "B-."
The reason a 10-2 team can have a grades this low is because I did not include the "preseason" recruiting of LSU. If there is one bright spot to this coaching crew, it would be recruiting. The problem is, and why the coaching grade is so low, is the lack of evaluating and development of the recruits you get. If LSU had recruiting classes like Miss St., or Arizona, I'd be tickled to death with a 10-2 season.
When you have "top-five" recruiting classes for a few years, you should have a top-five team. Tiger fans, we do not have a top-five team. Two changes would've put us in the top-five this year: head coach and QB.
One thing that makes LSU football so great is the diverse opinion of fans. I look forward to your response of YOUR GRADE of the LSU season. Remember, we ALL want LSU to succeed!
Best of luck on your bowl game!
Thank you to all you seniors who bled Purple and Gold through the years! God bless you all!