I didn’t get a blog off at the end of last week, but I think I’ll have no problem getting off another before Saturday. If for some reason I don’t, here is the link to the Arkansas series blog.
Like LSU-Alabama in recent years, it has been a consistently close game, but the differences are (1) this has been a trend over a longer time period of time and (2) Arkansas can be a lot worse and still make it close. Alabama, by contrast, hasn’t been a lot worse than LSU since 2003, and for the 15 years before that results in the series were not consistently close.
I plan to talk more about this year’s installment of the Arkansas game (and about LSU’s player development and so forth) for the next blog.
I’m not quite done talking about the Alabama game though. Les Miles wasn’t either. Typically his Monday press conferences are about half the length this one was, and they focus on the next game rather than the preceding game. (He was back to normal… a Les version of normal anyway… when he fielded the after-practice questions today.)
If I understood the comment in the Monday press conference correctly, he said he submitted about 25 calls that he wanted some clarification on. He indicated he did have a satisfactory conversation with the director of officials, but I’ll just hold by breath for SEC officials to be paragons of consistency.
I thought the College Football Playoff committee might have seen the same things. I found it very interesting that LSU, which was only #19 after beating Ole Miss, is now #17. Really, they look better now than they did after the last time they played a game (which was the third win in a row and was over a team ranked #3)? Granted, Alabama moved up one spot in its bye week, but rather than placing Alabama a spot higher after Auburn’s loss, they kept the Tide in the same place and moved TCU up two spots instead.
Of course, I think this can easily be undone by an Alabama win over Mississippi St., but it seems to me this is a message that, “yes, we saw what happened.” I may go into more detail on the listing later this week. You compare to other rankings here and here.
Immediately after the game, I mentioned a couple of the big calls, such as the apparent overtime pass interference(s) and the late personal foul call against LSU (when nothing more happened than a continuation of the play on both sides after the whistle blew).
Now that I’ve calmed down and am a little less furious, I want to explain the game situations caused by a couple of other calls (and subsequent failures to review in both instances).
There were three passes intended for freshman slot WR Trey Quinn. Two passes, one of which hit him in the hands, just should have been caught. I like the guy, he’s still on the banner image of my twitter account, but there are no two ways about his need to have caught those. I want to talk about the third pass though.
I think the ones he should have caught were both on third down, so that would leave the first-down pass to Quinn as the controversial one. Rolltide.com’s description of the play’s result was that the pass “fell short and incomplete”. The announcers said he trapped it and showed a brief replay, but I saw no indication that it hit the ground in replaying either the live version or the replay. They may have just been relating the apparent judgment of the official.
Whether this could have been overturned, I don’t know, but I can’t imagine the officials had a better view. I think when in doubt when a player has the ball in his hands and his arms under it waiting for it before it gets there, it should be ruled a catch.
Had the pass been ruled complete, LSU would have had a first down at the Alabama 38 with about 2:40 remaining. If LSU is stopped completely or goes backwards, they punt anyway. If they make either one more first down or between 5 and 9 yards, maybe they kick a long field goal (like the 50-yarder that beat Florida).
I mentioned that such plays as described above in reference to Quinn should be ruled a catch, and apparently that’s what happened on Alabama’s final drive of regulation. I suppose when it’s a question of Alabama, when in doubt it’s a catch rather than incomplete. I believe that qualifies as indisputable video evidence, but I haven’t seen slow-motion video zoomed in, just a still picture. Still, it’s pretty persuasive in the context of the live video (which I didn’t look up): http://postimg.org/image/dixpcrx3h
The replay official has the ability to stop the game before another play is run (which in this case was a spike). You’re probably thinking I would have complained had this happened. I would not because I didn’t believe it was a catch when I watched it live. I was actually in my living room signaling “timeout” (to allow time to review). It was only a 3-second difference anyway.
Had the pass been ruled incomplete, Alabama would have faced a fourth and four from the LSU 48 with 15 seconds on the clock. Even if they had completed the same play on fourth down, they would have then had to spike it for a field-goal try of 43 yards rather than the 27-yard attempt that would tie the game. Earlier in the game, Griffith made a 39-yard field goal and missed another 27-yarder.
Griffith has missed three of his last four attempts from 40 yards or more. The missed 27-yarder earlier in the game was his only miss from less than 30 yards, so the ability to get off that last play to reduce the attempt to 27 yards was huge.
From both LSU fans and others, I have seen the responses of “you (/we) should have been playing the same defense at the end as you were before,” “the receivers shouldn’t have dropped those passes,” “you (/we) should have run the ball in overtime,” “the kicker shouldn’t have kicked it out of bounds,” etc.
I’m sorry, when despite all these errors a game goes to overtime, it doesn’t take much uneven officiating to result in one team winning over another. You don’t have to play perfectly to say maybe you deserved to win.
I could go on about how Alabama deserved to lose due to the missed field goal, due to the fumble, due to only moving the ball into scoring position on one drive in the second half, due to possessing the ball for under 22 minutes, due to throwing as many incompletions (26) as LSU had passing attempts.
If your car gets stolen, maybe you forgot to lock it, maybe you parked in a bad spot, maybe you were in a bad neighborhood, maybe you should have realized how late it was, etc. That doesn’t mean a person didn’t steal your car, and it doesn’t mean that you have no right to complain about it. You can file a police report, insurance claim, and so forth. If the person is caught, they can be sued or criminally prosecuted. You’re not told, “oh well, live and learn.”
People might say I’m a bad sport or Les is a bad sport, but if this were a baseball game, it would have been played under protest even when LSU had the lead. Nothing about these complaints originated with the loss. I didn’t go back and look for excuses. Had I written my reaction to an LSU win, I would have mentioned how many bad calls they overcame.
Also, I have a couple of other things that have been bothering me. One, the attack on the LSU defense I referred to. Alabama wasn’t playing in the same way it was in prior possessions. The last time the field had been that spread out was in the second quarter.
The fact that Alabama only had the ball about a minute and a half in the third quarter made the LSU defense look good of course. They had the whole halftime to rest, then LSU had an opening drive that lasted 5:40, followed by a second drive that lasted 7:40 (although the latter only went 40 yards and resulted in no points).
In the fourth quarter before the last drive, Alabama only had a combined 12 plays, two of them punts and one of them a fumble. The best field position during that time was their own 28. They weren’t inclined to try anything too fancy.
But if a team is running a passing offense and running plays in quick succession, the defense can’t pretend they’re throwing 4-yard passes, safe downfield throws near the sidelines, or running the ball at a methodical pace.
I mentioned the second quarter, in which Alabama scored their initial 10 points and ran the drive leading to the missed field goal. There were a number of instances where there was an LSU player rushing at the end whether he couldn’t affect the pocket but where it created throwing opportunities. There were not enough players across the middle of the field and back from the line of scrimmage on the Alabama touchdown. On other plays, Amari Cooper was in one-on-one coverage on the sidelines and he got the ball that way. So LSU certainly didn’t want to make those mistakes again.
One last thing: it’s been 10 years, most people know Saban is a jerk, give it a rest. I hope next time we can pretend he’s just a regular visiting coach – like Kevin Sumlin or Hugh Freeze or Gus Malzahn or the various other coaches we’ve performed well against at home – and get past it. It doesn’t send a good message to be hung up on Saban. Putting him on a pedestal seems like it’s starting to give us an unhealthy inferiority complex. Worst of all, it re-affirms the judgment of the idiots who think we just need to somehow find a way to get rid of Miles and bring Saban back.