Saturday, November 24, 2007

This one's going to hurt for a loooooong time

A funny thing happened when I woke this morning. My nightmare didn't come to a merciful end; instead, it started all over again when I remembered that LSU's hopes of playing for another national championship in its own back yard ended in a devastating triple-overtime loss to an unranked SEC rival.

I can't stop replaying the final play of the game in my head - LSU quarterback Matt Flynn's failed pass to the back of the end zone on a mandatory two-point conversion attempt that would have kept the Tigers alive for another overtime series.

What was head coach Les Miles and his staff thinking? They were facing a must-score situation. LSU's passing had been suspect for most of the game, with Arkansas' secondary covering Tiger receivers like white on rice. All season long, LSU had effectively run the ball on short-yardage, must-get situations.

Run the option on the two-point-conversion attempt and the quarterback has several possibilities to score as the play unfolds. Commit to a pass and those possibilities are dramatically reduced and the risk level is dramatically increased.

So what does Miles and Co. do? They roll the dice and pass the ball.

After the game, Miles called the upcoming SEC title game a "much bigger" match than the one he lost yesterday, according to the Detroit Free Press. Huh???? Maybe that explains the game's inexplicable ending. Perhaps Miles just didn't realize that the ENTIRE SEASON was hanging in the balance.

So many times this season, the insane talent level of LSU was able to overcome the high-risk gambling habits of Miles. But this time the head coach's luck ran out.

And what's happened to our much vaunted defensive squad? Injuries certainly have taken their toll on several key players but that doesn't explain the increasingly passive play calling by defensive coordinator Bo Pelini or the big plays we keep giving up on key downs (Arkansas' quarterback having plenty of time to find an open receiver on a fourth-and-10 overtime play with LSU in the lead).

After guiding one of the most - if not the most - gifted college teams in the country for three years running, Miles and his assistants have little to show for it. No national championship. No appearance in a national championship game. No conference championship.

Better coaches are out there, and there's no reason why some of them shouldn't be in Baton Rouge.

Here's hoping that Michigan hasn't figured that out for themselves.

* Photo of Miles courtesy of my fellow former Times-Picayune alum Alex Brandon and the Associated Press.

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