As a Tiger fan, I’ve never been more sickened by two games in a 10-month period in my life than LSU’s two losses to Alabama this year. I’ve been sickened by, for example, losing 9 games in the 1992 season, but I can’t think of two specific games as frustrating in that short a period of time. That period of time (that was one of 6 consecutive seasons without a winning record or bowl game for LSU) seemed to last a lot longer since it lasted from ages 7 to 13, by the way.
The cumulative losses to teams like Alabama and Florida still get at me, so something like this just re-opens old wounds. I’d be better able to blow it off if we had finished 14-0 last year of course. As I mention in the rivalry blog, there is a difference of opinion as to LSU’s main rival, but for me there is no question it’s Alabama. I’m not as crazy about it as the average Auburn fan probably is; but still, if they could win only one game, I’d pick that one.
Also, for some strange reason, I’m cursed with knowing a bunch of Alabama fans. I lived in Louisiana my whole life until moving to California in 2004, but I guess because someone thought alleged football championships would translate into a good education, a few people from my high school went there, and then some home-grown Bama fans (at least they have an excuse) went to my undergraduate school.
Of course the offense in the bowl game was just useless, and the coaching staff did nothing about it. It’s a miracle that LSU was within two scores until late in the fourth quarter in that one…. But at least I didn’t have much hope for a win as the game went into the second half. What made that really bad was the effect it had upon 13 games that otherwise would have comprised the best season in generations if not the best season in LSU history. And it also gave Alabama (and Nick Saban) another national championship to claim in a year in which LSU went to Tuscaloosa and beat the Tide no less.
Today’s game unfortunately forced me to have hope even though I had written it off as a loss before kickoff. LSU was moving the ball, getting first down after first down with the lead, and for some godforsaken reason, apparently it was decided to settle down and kick a field goal (which was missed… the reason LSU won the regular-season game last year was Alabama’s repeated settling for field goals they had a good chance of missing) with a minute and a half left. But if you can move the ball with pass plays when the defense knows you’re going to have a pass play, why not keep doing it when the defense is unsure and perhaps even expecting runs? You don’t have three boring runs in the middle of the field. And then on defense, how could they not be prepared for a screen pass? Alabama is like the Bill Cowher Steelers with that play. It’s mind-boggling. I was too frustrated to notice, but if the approach to defense changed for the winning Alabama drive, that was foolhardy too.
I just think the execution was there, and the coaching was not. Mettenberger was twice as good as he was in any previous game. A lot of people (myself included) said if he had a good game, LSU would have a good chance to win. So he had a game beyond my wildest expectations and we still come away with yet another loss to this team of all teams. There is no excuse not to capitalize on such an opportunity. Once again, something different needs to be done on offense. I think Les has the offensive experience to help make the team tough, but he just doesn’t have the knack for calling plays.
It’s sad that Kragthorpe hasn’t been able to be that person due to health problems, but we are lacking a quality offensive coordinator. The committee approach, if that’s still how LSU is approaching it, doesn’t work. Let Greg Studrawa sink or swim. If Miles has already done that, then we need to look elsewhere. I know (unlike Saban) he wants to show loyalty to people, but either this guy has the ability to do the job or he doesn’t. There shouldn’t be any hard feelings, he lucked into the job in the first place. I’m sure a lot of good candidates would be interested.
I’m also concerned that Miles listened to commentators about how he needed to be “the Mad Hatter” again. Maybe once, but not three times. If LSU kicks field goals instead of faking them (although they could have unsuccessfully faked the 54-yarder and I wouldn’t have complained), and kicks field goals instead of going for it, maybe they would have had 6 more points. LSU may have also had better opportunities on offense without the on-sides kick. If Alleman had missed them all the field goal attempts after the one in the first quarter, then they would have known not to play for the field goal on the second-to-last drive (which, as mentioned, they shouldn’t have done anyway).
I wanted to give a list of the LSU drives that didn’t result in a punt, points, or the end of a half.
2nd Quarter – 5 plays, 58 yards, ball went over on downs after fake field goal pass for negative yardage on 4th and 12.
2nd Quarter – 7 plays, 54 yards, missed FG from 54 yards.
4th Quarter – 6 plays, 39 yards, ball went over on downs after LSU went for it despite being in FG range (would have been about a 40-yard attempt).
4th Quarter – 11 plays, 54 yards, missed FG from 45 yards.
This is how you out-gain a team by 100 yards, have four more first downs than the opposition, convert 10 third downs to 1 (50% to 11%), force the game’s only two turnovers, and lose.
And just to make it worse, Notre Dame had to win a game in triple overtime after all Pitt needed to do to win the game was make a 33-yard field goal in the second OT. Pitt! Which lost to the Penguins of Youngstown St., a mediocre FCS team.
But I’m not cheering for Alabama even if that turns out to be the SEC’s only hope for the BCS title game. Gig’em Aggies and War Eagle and Go Fighting Catamounts! I’ll even sing the Georgia Bulldog song or do the Gator chomp during the SEC title game. At least it won’t be Tennessee, I don’t know the words to that song, and I don’t want to.