Monday, January 4, 2010

Bowl Game Thoughts

I've been reluctant to sit down and write something about the bowl game because I simply haven't felt like doing it.  LSU had a month to correct their mistakes from the regular season and to improve on their weaknesses.  They did neither.   Instead, we saw the same abysmal offense.  We again saw the defense fail to get off the field in numerous 3rd and long situations.  We saw the team's most electric playmaker stay on the bench...again.  We saw the starting quarterback make many of the same mistakes he's made all year.  We saw the same horrific clock management in crunch time.  We even added some new things such as receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs dropping balls left and right. 

First of all, the field and game conditions were horrible.  I've never seen a field as bad as the one for the Capital One Bowl.  The wet ball certainly contributed to some of the drops we saw on New Year's Day, but a lack of concentration was also evident.  Had LSU caught the balls that were right in their hands, the outcome of the game would have likely been much different.  Harry Coleman dropped an easy interception that would have likely been returned for a touchdown.  Danny McCray dropped an interception that actually hit him in his facemask.  Reuben Randle dropped a bobble off a long pass that looked like a certain touchdown.  Terrance Toliver dropped a pass right in his hands that was intercepted and resulted in a Penn State field goal.  Toliver also dropped about four other passes.  Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball which resulted in a Penn State field goal.  That's a significant number of plays that LSU failed to make. 

Even with the poor game plan and the numerous drops, LSU still found a way to take the lead in the fourth quarter.  They even had a chance to win the game at the end.  The Tigers found themselves trailing by two points at Penn State's 49 yard line, needing only about 20 more yards to set up a potential game winning field goal attempt.  With no timeouts and under a minute to go, most teams look to throw to the sidelines in order to stop the clock.  Or, they utilize the middle of the field but absolutely make sure that the play result in an incompletion or a first down, thus stopping the clock.  Gary Crowton did neither.  He made his worst play call of the entire season....and that's saying something.  He called a middle screen to Brandon Lafell.  The probability that this play results in a tackle before gaining ten yards is very high.  And that's exactly what happened.  Precious seconds ticked off the clock while LSU tried to regroup and line up for the next play.  Then, senior Lyle Hitt was flagged for a personal foul for pulling a Penn State defender off the pile.   And that was it.  Game over. 

I can't sugar coat this game.  It was poorly planned and poorly executed.  Unfortunately with this coaching staff, games like this are becoming more and more common.  I have much more to say regarding the current state of the program and the coaching staff.  But those words will come in later updates. 

Some final thoughts:

1) Being positive, Chad Jones played his best game in an LSU uniform.  He was all over the place and was the best player on the field.  If the NFL or MLB doesn't scoop him up, he'll be a pre-season All-SEC pick next year and a potential All-American. 

2)  With a month to prepare and not putting the ball in Russell Shepard's hands one time was the worst personnel decision at LSU since Gerry Dinardo had Craig Nall playing wide receiver with Josh Reed sitting on the bench.  It was stupid, and I don't have any explanation for it. 

3) Brandon Lafell finished his career as a Tiger with five catches for 87 yards and one touchdown.  Lafell will go down as one of the best Tiger receivers of all time.  He wasn't overly flashy but he was very productive for three years, and he'll make some NFL team very happy.  He'll certainly be missed. 


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