I always feel bad for coaches at press conferences because really, and I mean this down to every single last coach, they hate them. And why wouldn't they?
Coaches want to coach and win games and they really don't like answering to anyone. Especially to reporters that second guess every move they make. Coaches don't always want to let everyone in on every little decision they make.
But fans are different. We would love for someone to question us. We want everyone to know what we think, even people that don't care what we think. But no one ever asks really, so we have to write, blog, facebook, tweet, and post on message boards.
So I decided to hold my own presser today regarding the Auburn game, the upcoming Tulane game, and other stuff.
Justin, as someone who's been critical of the coaching/playcalling, especially on offense, how do you feel the team performed against Auburn?
I do think some great changes were made that benefited this team.
First off, the elimination of the "check with me" at the line proved to get this offense going finally. QB Jordan Jefferson looked more comfortable overall and much of that comes from a change in playcalling style.
LSU implemented the short passing game and quick drops for Jefferson in order to get the ball out of his hands quicker. Jefferson did a great job all day in finding receivers and making good decisions.
While the offensive line seemed to pass block a little better, the run blocking still has much room for improvement. Charles Scott averaged 2.2 yards per carry against the Tigers from the Plains. That's not going to cut it.
Any other improvements you'd like to see on offense?
Well, there were some drops from the receivers. You'd like to eliminate that but it is going to happen from time to time. Jefferson had a fumble inside the ten yard line, you'd like to see him secure the ball better. You could argue he was in the midst of changing the ball to the proper arm when it got knocked loose, but he also didn't have it well secured on his TD run. Simple fixes there, really.
Better execution overall but still a ways to go.
As a fan, how was it seeing highly-touted freshman Russell Shepard get his first TD?
Well it was nice to see it on such an explosive play (a 69-yd run). No. 10 definitely has speed and quickness. Those are his strengths. His weaknesses are his size and his ball security.
But I know he liked scoring under the lights in Tiger Stadium and I'm sure that moment will linger in his memory for a while as well as the hunger to make many more just like it.
He is a great ambassador for this program, and I think we'll keep seeing him as a "slash" type player receiving touches as QB/RB/WR. He is dangerous but all reports of him say he is a good person and is already a "fan favorite".
I like the way he was utilized in the AU game and would look for more games like that the rest of the season for him.
So is the offense fixed? What changed in order to make this happen?
The big question is who has been calling the show so far with fans thinking Miles is ultra conservative and predictable and Crowton is aggressive and unpredictable. I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know that I rarely see Miles with a laminated play card in his possession during a game, but he had one on Saturday night.
So far as the offense being "fixed," I think everyone should slow down. This performance happened against the team with the worst defense in the SEC. Playing bad defenses usually cures all that ails. That being said, the Tigers have looked ugly in many wins against inferior teams this year, so it was nice to look good in one.
What about your prediction that it would be a close game and LSU would win by three in overtime? You were way off.
I'm aware of that. The thing is, this series has been so darn good over the last 15 years or so I just expected a great game. Also there was no indication that the offensive playcalling would get better (which it did).
AU has quality fans and a quality program. Its numbers are hurting right now (as far as scholarship players). But it will get back on track; the SEC is a better place when AU is fighting for conference titles.
There's something to be said for the fact that this is the first time LSU has won three games in a row in this series since the 1930s.
Between LSU's handling of Auburn and the fact that 'Bama and Florida struggled in wins, LSU fans are thinking optimistically about the Alabama game in two weeks. Where do you stand on that?
Well, while Alabama has a bye this week, LSU will actually play Tulane at home, although the 'Bama game seems to be dominating the conversation right now.
LSU shouldn't have a problem with Tulane even if the Tigers overlook them, but I think keeping everyone healthy in this game will be the most important thing along with staying in a groove on offense and defense and bringing that rhythm into Tuscaloosa in two weeks.
I'm not getting as carried away as other fans. I think LSU has some matchup problems with Alabama, but if the bye week doesn't help the Tide find its scoring threats again, LSU has a shot.
I'm not going to give you a prediction now but I definitely think the game will come down to mistakes and turnovers and the team making less of those will win. LSU is seventh in the nation in turnover margin; 'Bama is 19th. Both teams have turned opposing teams' mistakes into W's.
I'm actually hoping for a nice defensive battle. But Tulane is on the menu first.
C'mon, not even a hint in who you like in LSU-'Bama?
Not right now. I'm usually pessimistic about my team but I must admit that if LSU can perform like it did against AU in the Tulane game, and carry that momentum through the home stretch, this team may have an exciting finish.
No sense in downplaying the importance of the Alabama game for both teams really, but you have to wonder if Alabama has already peaked and if LSU is just starting to.
Alabama didn't score an offensive TD against South Carolina until the waning moments. I don't care how many yards Mark Ingram had, that was a 13-6 ball game with an INT return for a TD being the Tide's lone end zone appearance for the majority of that one, and that was a home game.
Alabama was a 14.5 point favorite at home against Tennessee and squeaked by because the Tennessee kicker apparently can't kick it over Mount Cody's four-inch vertical. Alabama's defense is as good as any defense in the nation, but you have to wonder a bit why this team's offense is stuck in neutral and how long the drought will continue.
LSU used its bye week to get better on offense— or was that all smoke and mirrors due to the fact that Auburn's defense is last in the SEC this year? Hmmmm.
Just how bad is SEC officiating this year?
The funny thing is, it's always been pretty bad. It's just getting a lot more pub this year.
Most of the gripes are legit. Even LSU benefited from some shotty calls early in the season (and I'm not talking about the UGA game). There have been too many to mention, although I know people are talking about Mount Cody and his helmet.
Technically, the Cody-helmet no-call probably should not have been a penalty, but ask yourself this: If Cody would have punched someone on the last play like that instead of celebrating would he be flagged? Probably so.
I think celebration rules in general are pretty ridiculous, but at least be consistent in calling them.
Plus, I remember an Alabama writer stating how undisciplined a Miles player was with taking off his helmet in disgust last year during the Arkansas game.
Celebration or disgust, taking off your helmet is taking off your helmet.
You don't get flagged for stomping on someone's midfield logo before the game either— doesn't mean it's not "unsportsmanlike".
You predicted 9-3 before the season started— still sticking with that prediction?
Yes. I'm a big believer in the "flow" of a season affecting wins and losses. For example, if LSU pulls a very emotional hard fought upset over the Tide I would think LSU would be more likely to lose its next SEC game as a letdown. LSU is saved by the fact that if it beats Alabama, it has Louisiana Tech at home before going on the road again to Oxford.
However, pure passing quarterbacks, especially if LSU fails to put pressure on them, could hurt the Tigers. I think that even if LSU gets by 'Bama it could lose the Ole Miss and/or the Arkansas games because of Jevan Snead and Ryan Mallet, even if Snead isn't having the season everyone thought he would. Mallet is for real but really needs a better supporting cast.
Either team could sting LSU in an upset, even if the Tigers lose to 'Bama. Not sure which teams will be the ones to give LSU two more losses, but at the half way point I had the Tigers dropping games to the Tide and Razorbacks to finish 9-3.
How about a prediction for the Tulane game?
You would hope LSU would be able to get on the Wave early and put the game out of reach so the reserves can get some time and the starters some rest before going to Alabama.
Still, I think Miles is going to work on the things he wants to work on, especially on offense. I don't know if we'll see as much blitzing from the D as we did against Auburn, but I think more of that will return against SEC opponents.
As for a score, I think as long as LSU limits mistakes it should win comfortably. But you never know how many of these guys will lose focus on the game looking ahead. I look for the running game to make a return appearance and for the Tigers to ground the Green Wave.