LSU loss to Alabama – unbelievably frustrating

In all but one extremely obvious way (I’ll give you a hint – it wears number 12), LSU is a better team than Alabama. I thought that going in to today’s game, and the results showed it. For all of Jarrett Lee’s gifts to Alabama, the Tigers still managed to take this one to overtime.

Of course, Lee had to play in overtime as well, and thus Alabama wins.

There’s no need to make a case for how bad Lee is. Tossing interceptions 11 through 14 on a night he completed 38% of his passes speaks for itself. He is and has to be the Tigers’ main quarterback, but no Jordan Jefferson – at all? After Lee goes 4 for 15 with two interceptions in the first half – no looks for Jefferson … at all?

Leslie got a bit indignant with Tracy Wolfson when she asked about Jefferson during the halftime interview, saying something along the lines of there being “talk” of that, but he didn’t know that he would play him (I’ll look for a clip of that). What might that “talk” have been? Well, it was Leslie on Monday saying as much:

In Leslie Coachspeak, “that game” means the previous one (Tulane) and “this game” means the upcoming one (Alabama).

So where was Jefferson? Maybe something happened during the week that precluded Leslie from playing him, but it surely was called for and I’ll be interested to see how Miles explains away his absence.

UPDATE: From his post-game news conference – Leslie seems to contradict his Monday statement that he planned to play Jefferson:

OK, so … coach, you’re confusing me. Something go wrong at practice? It would help boost the confidence of the people listening to you if you didn’t so obviously contradict yourself without some explanation of why things changed. And Baton Rouge media – awesome job not asking why he told you on Monday that he expected Jefferson to play and then acted tonight like it would be ridiculous to do so.

Obviously Lee was a huge liability in this game. And like in the Georgia game, subtract the negative impact of Jarrett Lee and LSU likely wins the game. But the Georgia game (like the Florida game, which we would have lost no matter what) was just comically blown by Lee. The Tigers were never in the Florida game and were out of it early in the second half against Georgia.

This one was different. Despite all of the mistakes, LSU stayed in the game. The Tigers beat Bama’s run defense bad – putting up 153 yards in the first half against a team that came in giving up 65 a game. And somehow Lee managed a solid drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game. The third quarter was an offensive wasteland.

Again, why there was no Jordan Jefferson for a second-half change of pace – especially considering LSU ran a couple of direct-snap plays for Richard Murphy and showed they could beat Bama’s run defense – is just baffling.

The defense didn’t play great, giving the Tide 14 yards less than their 369-per-game average (and just three yards less than Arkansas State gave them last week), but it was manageable. Two drives resulted in touchdowns (if you can call a zero-yard drive after an interception a drive), two resulted in turnovers, two resulted in missed/blocked field goals and seven resulted in punts. LSU’s defense did well enough – unless your quarterback is Jarrett Lee.

This was an extremely frustrating loss. We should have beaten the No. 1 team in the country that is a longtime heated rival now led by our former coach … and despite ourselves, we almost did. It’s easy to lay the blame on the guy who threw four interceptions including the suicide pass into double-coverage in overtime, and I do blame him.

But I want to know what the hell Leslie and the coaching staff were thinking. Why was there no Jefferson? Why do you give Lee enough rope to hang himself in overtime? From the outside view, it just looked like Miles had decided he was going to live or die by Lee. In the global sense, that’s the way it has to be this year, but I would expect much better situational management of a game. Maybe not from Miles, though.

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One Response to “LSU loss to Alabama – unbelievably frustrating”

  1. Phil Latapie says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m no coach or even past player at that high of a level, yet I could tell Lee was out of it mentally. When you begin missing screen passes by 5-6 yards and the receivers have a bewildered expression, it’s time for a change. If nothing else, just for running the option or bootleg to change the pace from such a one (or zero) dimensional performance from Lee. Does anyone remember Perilloux? Does anyone remember Hatch? It would have possibly changed the aggressive nature in the second half by Alabama defence not knowing they could just bring the house b/c Lee couldn’t hit anything.
    We’ll see what next week hold and I really feel sorry for the seniors that have all that talent and the poor performance by the quarterback is leaving them out in the cold.

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