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September 5, 2010

Nightmare On Peach Street: the LSU vs. North Carolina game

Is it disrespectful to the losing team to be angry about a win?  The LSU-North Carolina game was like some crazy nightmare for both teams.  I know the North Carolina storyline is the positive spin that the team came together despite adversity to nearly beat LSU but if you are a clear thinking Tar Heel fan, you realize that LSU's offense stayed in the locker room after the first half and despite having a moral victory, you are still 0-1.  My heart truly goes out to North Carolina faithful.  Butch Davis can flat out coach and he has clearly stocked North Carolina with great football players.  

Before the season began I felt obligated to give LSU the benefit of an optimistic perspective.  The rose colored glasses were taken off last night.  Jordan Jefferson should probably not be the starting quarterback at LSU and LSU needs somebody that evaluates what the opponent's defense is doing and then adjust offensive plays accordingly.  LSU needs to be aggressive on offense.  LSU's offense needs to have swagger.  Les Miles or some offensive leader needs to get in the face of anybody associated with LSU's offense and shout "The football game is 60 minutes! We don't take our foot off the gas ever! We don't take a single play off!"  Honestly, if Miles would go into Gary Crowton's office, shut the door, and say all of that, I think that would suffice.

The offensive culture stinks.  LSU enters a game armed to the teeth with athletes that can make plays on offense but the attitude sure feels like LSU is afraid to use what they have.  You do not win a race by getting ahead and then coasting.  Is there someone in charge that has had some traumatic episode in the past with running up a score?  If LSU scored 30 points in the first half, I would expect more than 30 points in the second half and certainly not zero points.  If the player do not move the ball on the first series of the second half, put in different player.  If the plays aren't working, try something else.  Yes, taking that risk could lead to failure.  But if what you are doing is not working, take a risk or you likely will fail. Give Jarrett Lee a series.  Let him start at Vanderbilt.  It is now very likely that not many LSU fans will be in Nashville. So here's a chance. If he throws a pick six, put Jefferson in the game.

Use a variety of scoring weapons.   How many touches did Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, or Jakari Gore get?  How many catches did Terrence Toliver get?  On the bright side, Russell Shepard is now getting some touches and Rueben Randle got a couple of catches. And the tight end got a couple of passes. And I am just going to say this the offensive line is better.

Though Jordan Jefferson is still not ready, he is not LSU's main problem.  He still cannot locate down the field out of bounds with a pass but, he did duck and run a couple of times.  The main problem, other than rotating fresh and talented players in,  is play calling.  When North Carolina couldn't move the ball they noticed that LSU was allowing short patterns inside and successfully threw slant passes until a couple of longer routes opened up.  Now there's an idea.  Tight ends coach, Steve Ensminger, did a fair job of that when he was quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator for Texas A&M and then Clemson in the 1990s.  So I guess what I might conclude here is maybe LSU should not only put the best players on the field, but also put coaches in a position where their talents might best be utilized.

The North Carolina game proves that it is not enough to recruit the best or to be in top shape. You also have to have coaches that are willing to take chances on offense and get creative when things aren't working.  Maybe Jefferson is having trouble making decisions because he is following the lead of his coaches.  Jordan Jefferson is extremely talented but on the offensive side of the ball, opportunities and talent are being wasted and that is a terrible thing to watch.

I wasn't going to be an I told you so but I did say that North Carolina would be a real test no matter which players hit the field.  By the same note, many of you that have been telling me that I was selling LSU too high will recognize that I have conceded that the Jordan Jefferson project hopes are over for me pending any unforeseen miracles.  And I am not a big fan of Gary Crowton these days either.  I still stand by the fact that this team has the talent to easily go 10-2 or better but if we keep repeating the North Carolina strategy, we will be lucky to make it to bowl eligibility.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course, you are right, that this LSU football team has some of the best college football players in this country, Bob.
But for heaven sakes, the football team also needs a wise and sound leader, to manage the over all football program..This guy Les Miles, is a wast of time,he does not know what he is doing..LSU is losing grown,Les Miles is hurting LSU, not helping!

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