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October 3, 2010

LSU's "Big Cat" Drill Pays Dividends

During preseason there were reports that LSU was bringing back the "Big Cat" drill.  When I noticed this as the official LSU press release, I thought:  "so what."  When I saw an article covering the return of the "Big Cat" drill in the New Orleans Times Picayune I thought: "Must be a slow news day on the LSU beat" and "glad I write a blog as a hobby and do not have to write about something that seems so unimportant."  I just realized on my way to church this morning that LSU won Saturday's game against Tennessee for a variety of reasons but, one of the big keys to this victory was the return of the "Big Cat" Drill.

So what is the "Big Cat" drill and how can I ignore the obvious 13-man defense reprieve penalty in favor of this preseason drill as the reason LSU beat UT? 

The "Big Cat" drill is a drill in which a single defensive player is pitted against a single offensive player. The two players square off, a coach blows a whistle and the two players hit each other and attempt to gain a dominate position.  Here is a video of the "Big Cat" drill courtesy of

How did this common, ordinary drill equal a victory over the Tennessee Volunteers?

It may be obvious that LSU's offensive and defensive lines have both improved in one-on-one match-ups with opponents this year.  It may also be obvious that Stevan Ridley runs almost every play like he is living the "Big Cat" drill.  But specifically in the LSU-UT game,  LSU's "Big Cat" drill made all the difference in the outcome.  Late in the game Tennessee could have run out the clock by making a 4th and 1 that was really more like a 4th and inches.  LSU's entire defense played seemed to want in on this "Big Cat" drill.  I am not sure which player met the Tennessee running back head-to-head first but, LSU's D won that one and it was a game changer.

The offense also won a game changing "Big Cat" drill. The game was over, LSU had lost the game 14-10.  LSU fans all over the world were cussing their TVs, stunned that LSU had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for a second season in a row.  Fans in the stands were already making mental notes of how to make effective posters and cheers that would communicate the idea of calling two plays in the huddle when time might be a factor.  Would "two plays, two plays" be a more effective cheer than "call two, call two"? Maybe just a poster with a telephone and a giant "2" would do the trick.  When all of a sudden someone noticed a man in stripes standing in the middle of the field looking as if he might have something to say.  The man in stripes clicked on his microphone, put both of his hands on top of his head and said something about ineligible players on the defense.  LSU was going to get one more try, one more play to attempt to redeem a miserable offensive scoring effort that had only managed one touchdown on the very first play of the game and then only one of two attempted field goals  later in the game.  While everyone watching thought they knew that this meant LSU would win the game, scoring on one play was not a foregone conclusion.  The Volunteer defense had as much of a chance to stop this last play as LSU had a chance to make the play.  The play was a simple run between the guard and tackle on the left side. A Tennessee player was in the right position to stop LSU running back Stevan Ridley right at the line of scrimmage.  Just like in the "Big Cat" drills a few months earlier, Ridley was man-on-man against a defender.  Ridley's experience in the "Big Cat" drill paid off.  He wrapped the ball up with both hands, got lower than the defender and drove into the end zone.

Maybe LSU deserved to lose that game but they won that game in large part because of the return of the "Big Cat" drill.


Anonymous said...

Yes, that is the reason Arkansas 4-1, is #- 11, and LSU 5-0 is # 12, in the AP poll,today Monday Oct 3, 2010..All the sports writers know by now, how good Les Miles teaches LSU how to play football.
Very enlightening Bob.

Anonymous said...

Bob, don't listen to the 504 guy and if Les Miles sees this - Miles most LSU fans love you and have grown accustom to winning since you have been at LSU. I hope both of you guys have a scotoma to these losers that vomit this negative filth.
504 - Arkansas' one loss was by 4 points to #1 ranked Alabama. Playing this Alabama team that has not lost since the 2008 Sugar Bowl may rate Arkansas as the second best team in the country. Did you see Alabama destroy Florida this weekend or maybe catch Alabama's thumping of Penn State earlier this year? Only loser LSU fans could hate their winningest coach ever. Note to 504pm: The L in LSU no longer stands for loser like it did in the day when you went there. Whether he has done it the way you would have or not Les Miles has forgotten more about football than you have ever known.

Anonymous said...

504 guy - why don't you give your tickets to some poor family. We are tired of you booing our team and our coach. Bob has a point. LSU is winning despite not having a passing game because they are winning the Big Cat challenges almost every play. Better defensive line play, better offensive line play, few missed tackles, and Stevan Ridley bulling his way for yards after he is hit every single time - thats all Big Cat LSU football! Miles does need someone to handle the offense in close games in the last seconds of the game.

Anonymous said...

OK the first guys logic is that the voters in the AP think Petrino is a better coach than Miles because they ranked Ark above LSU. Let's see then that makes Miles a better coach than Urban Myer (Florida is #14),and Steve Spurrier (South Carolina is #19). If Miles could only be Nick Saban, LSU would become Alabama. Oh, except I don't think Bama fans boo when things don't go their way.

Thanks for giving credit where credit is due Bob. We can only hope that some of these classless fans can learn a little class and optimism by reading your stuff.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Bob. I agree with you about the big cat drill. Thanks for bringing that up. We all know that the coaching staff have some problems, but there is no doubt that Les Miles has a want to help this LSU team win, and that he is a quality person (couldn't help myself, had to use that Les talk :) ). I get so sick of all the negative fans. We're 5-0! I was at LSU from 1990- 1997. We never had a winning season during those years. Tiger Fans apparently have a short memory and don't realize how lucky they are to have a coach like Les Miles.

Anonymous said...

To the Les Miles cult,instead of the LSU supporters..1- play in 36 seconds, with the game on the line.
You great head coach, was saved by his center...Do you love LSU, or Les Miles?

Anonymous said...

Please LSU,hire another head football coach..Before this Alien Blob, kills us all!!!

Anonymous said...

Arrest Les Miles, for steeling..Pretending to be a real college football coach,and steeling LSU money.
Now the rest of this country is laughing at (LSU) us,because of this shyster, head coach!!

Anonymous said...

There are five teams not laughing. Les Miles and LSU and LSU's real fans will be laughing all the way to the NC. The Mad Hatter will be lifting the crystal ball again when all is said and done.

Anonymous said...

Why is LSU such a backwards state? Because when you have a winner, you complain about how he is winning and focus on the time when he will lose. Every coach/team loses sometimes and when they lose that is when you can see the real character of their fan base. Should we forget stupid mistakes in a winning effort - no. Should we forgive stupid mistakes in a winning effort - Yes!

Texas Tiger said...

First of all "504 Guy", the AP poll means absolutely nothing. The poll that counts is the USAToday/Coaches Poll. In the real poll, LSU is 9th and ahead of Arkansas.

Now for the team and it's coaches. Yes, the offense has been absolutely lousy at times. But it has been very good also. LSU must cut down on the turnovers and penalties. That is a given. But you forget just how young this team is. It's the 6th game going down to Florida, and I for one, believe the offense will look much better for a couple of reasons:

1. Miles should have drop kicked Crowton enough over the last few days to get his thought processes straightened out.

2. LSU will go with Lee at quarterback most of the game. This will get the passing game into gear, and give LSU a balanced attack for the second time this year!

I also encourage you to take a look at just how many LSU players have gotten into trouble since Miles took over. Also, take a look at the character of the guys on this team. Compare that record to any in the conference.

LSU is 5-0, and we have done that will a very meek offense. Just wait until it gets going this weekend. If the offense takes off, then LSU is a BCS Championship caliber team. If you call yourself a fan ... then be one. And if you can't, sell your tickets to a real LSU Tiger!

Anonymous said...

Les Miles argument is over,the people who think that Les Miles is not a good coach, have a fix opinion now...Winning will not change that.
Miles will just go on coaching LSU as long as he win..When LSU starts losing, he will be finish.
The Les Miles argument is over.

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