LSU in Chick-fil-A bowl will be bad news

With the SEC Championship Game showdown this weekend most likely producing both a participant in the BCS Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl, bowl projections are falling out thusly:

The Capital One Bowl gets first pick among non-BCS SEC schools, which means the third-best team (plus factors of which fan base will travel to the game, etc.), and their clear pick is Georgia (9-3, 6-2 in conference). The come the Cotton, Outback and Chick-fil-A (Peach) bowls. And the sad state of the SEC this year means 8-4 Ole Miss, 7-5 South Carolina and 7-5 LSU will be the teams selected to go to those bowls. Kentucky and Vandy are the last picks with 6-6 records.

The Cotton must give preference to a West team, so their pick will be Ole Miss. And the Outback must give preference to an East team, so it’s Cock time in Tampa. That leaves LSU as the only choice for the Chick-fil-A, likely facing a hot local choice in Georgia Tech.

And that sucks.

For LSU to finish the season 7-5 and 3-5 in the SEC and end up in a really decent bowl like the Chick is a shame. It’ll just be one more rationalization of this season as “pretty good” and all that. I can see Leslie at the podium now talking about how it’s a great honor for his damn strong football team to once again play in such a great bowl game.

All season long, Leslie has been full of excuses, and most people seem to have bought them right up until the final humiliation in Arkansas.

- Auburn was a hard-fought victory over a great team. No, it was ridiculous that the game was that close.

- Mississippi State wasn’t as close as the score seemed. No, the Bulldogs put 24 on LSU when they only manged 2 against Auburn, 3 against Tennessee, 13 against Kentucky and 0 against Ole Miss.

- South Carolina was a courageous comeback. No, going down 17-10 to them was a harbinger for the rest of the season.

- Georgia was the inexperience of a young quarterback. No, it was the lack of defense that ended up handing the Dawgs 52 points. Even with Lee’s struggles, LSU managed 38 in that game, which should have been plenty.

- Alabama was also the inexperience of a young quarterback. No, it was the decision to give zero playing time to Jordan Jefferson and not shake up the offense a bit (after saying the Monday before the game that Jefferson would play).

- Troy was a historic comeback. Please. Troy was pathetic.

- Ole Miss was – I forget the excuses there. It was the first hint of realization that things are seriously wrong on the sidelines.

- Arkansas was the end of excuses.

The proper fate for this team to suffer is a trip to Shreveport, Memphis or Nashville to face the humiliation of bottom-tier SEC bowls. It should be the penance paid by Miles & Co. for completely mismanaging this season into a horrible one masked only by a really weak SEC West.

But what we’ll get is this unearned pride of playing in the Ga. Dome on New Year’s Eve as a stepping stone back to greatness. Lipstick on a pig.

SEC Week 14 Predictions

Just under the wire …

The 4-7 Razorbacks concern me for one reason – passing. No. 22 in the country and No. 2 in the SEC in pass offense against LSU’s No. 76 in the country / No. 11 in the SEC pass defense. But the good news is that Arkansas has the SEC’s worst defense and their biggest weakness is rush defense. This one might be another game nobody on LSU’s side will want to remember, but I have to think it’s winnable.

LSU 31 – 28

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Mississippi State at Ole Miss: The other Friday matchup shouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Rebels. If Nutt can close out his first season 8-4, he’ll have done a hell of a job up in Oxford.

Rebels 38 – 24

Auburn at No. 1 Alabama: Oh what a day it would be for War Eagle fans if Auburn were to wake up from its season-long sleep and rise up against Fonzie and the Tide. If ever there were a moment for an Iron Bowl shocker, this would be it. And I wouldn’t be too surprised if the unexpected happened – I just don’t expect it, obviously.

Bama 24 – 13

No. 4 Florida at No. 20 Florida State: The Gators also face a final challenge before the SEC Championship Game showdown with Alabama. It’s certainly possible that Florida hits a roadblock with the Seminoles, who have come on strong late in the season. Another one that should be good to watch, but I don’t see anything that suggests a Florida loss.

Gators 42 – 28

No. 22 Georgia Tech at No. 11 Georgia: I don’t see the Tech gimmick offense cracking UGA’s defense, especially in Athens.

Dawgs 34 – 27

South Carolina at Clemson: Eh, I’ll go with the Cocks.

South Carolina 27 – 24

Kentucky at Tennessee: The last hurrah for Phil Fulmer. I figure they can win this one for him.

Vols 19 – 16

Vanderbilt at Wake Forest: Battle of the 6-5 smart-kids schools. I’ll homer it up and root for a winning season for Vandy.

‘Dores 13 – 10

SEC Week 13 Recap

Do I want to say much more about LSU getting their cocks handed to them by Ole Miss? Not really. And I’d really appreciate my DVR ignoring future replays of the game on that CBS College Sports channel.

But the upside of this total collapse by the Tigers is that others are starting to question the program and Leslie’s decisions. Most gratifying is that many people are starting to think eliminating the position of defensive coordinator wasn’t such a smart move by Miles. That this is gaining traction six weeks after I went on and on about it is a positive thing. That people are saying Miles must sack the non-coordinators for an actual defensive coordinator next season is even better news.

So I won’t say any more about the Ole Miss loss. It was embarrassing and clearly should have been avoidable 11 games into the season with the talent of LSU. And I had picked LSU to win, which should be a lesson for me.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

I picked both Tennessee and Arkansas to win. Stupid, stupid man.

And my score prediction for Florida / The Citadel was a half-joking 116 – 8. Had Tebow & Co. stayed in for more than 40% of the game, 70 – 19 could easily have been 150 – 6.

For the week: 1 – 3
For the season: 65 – 13

Ole Miss humiliates LSU – the big questions

I can take a loss. They happen. I can also take a disappointing season – they also happen. But what I have a hard time accepting is stupidity.

It’s becoming clear that LSU is full of stupidity, and I think it’s on the sideline. There are three big questions that come to mind following LSU’s embarrassing 31-13 loss to Ole Miss:

1) Where in the living hell is LSU’s pass defense? Credit Jevon Snead for three outstanding throws on one Ole Miss touchdown march, but drive after drive in this game was peppered with the same unbelievably bad pass coverage LSU has exhibited all throughout this season. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this question – it’s because Les Miles eliminated the position of defensive coordinator. How long does it take for the “young” defense, as the popular excuse theorizes, to actually start playing pass coverage? You can’t blame youth and inexperience 11 games in to the season.

2) Why has Jarrett Lee remained LSU’s starting quarterback? I had given Leslie & Co. the benefit of the doubt – surely Jordan Jefferson just isn’t ready to run the pass offense – but it was clear today that Jefferson is at least as capable and steady as Lee. Based on Jefferson’s performance after Lee went down, I’m going to say he seems to be much better than Lee in all aspects of the game, but at minimum he is just as good. When Lee threw three interceptions against Georgia, he should have been benched for the Tulane game in favor of Jefferson. Are we to believe that a kid who goes 10 for 20 for 129 yards against Ole Miss today was incapable of leading the team against Tulane three weeks ago? Tulane should have been Jefferson’s tryout for the Alabama game, but it wasn’t. Instead we got four more Lee interceptions against Alabama, an almost-inescapable hole against Troy and no answer to Ole Miss’ offense tonight. Jefferson showed himself to be a capable passer and a powerful threat running the ball. I wonder what LSU’s offense would look like if it had been designed around Jefferson instead of Lee. What Lee has done and what Jefferson clearly seems capable of doing has me seriously doubting Leslie’s mental capacity.

3) Going for it on 4th and 23 from your own 47 yard line down 15 with 8:11 left in the game? Are you shitting me?? It was bad enough when Leslie was deciding to go for it on 4th and 18, but to stick with that plan after a false start penalty is sheer, inexcusable stupidity. Eight freaking minutes left! That ridiculously stupid decision by Miles ended the game, as Ole Miss had to move just 38 yards to get a field goal and put the game out of reach. In what Idiot’s Playbook does that call make sense?

I can take the losses, but I can’t take the stupidity.

SEC Week 13 Predictions

Following the “historic” comeback by LSU against Troy – yes, it still was Troy – the Tigers are at a late-season crossroad. With Ole Miss coming to town this week and a trip to Arkansas set for the day after Thanksgiving, LSU has the opportunity to learn from the Troy game and finish strong, or settle back in their old ways and see the season slide into mediocrity.

Know this – Ole Miss is not a pushover. The Rebels could easily be 8-2; their four losses were by an average of 4.75 points; they played No. 1 Alabama to 24-20 in Tuscaloosa and – oh yeah – they beat No.4 Florida in The Swamp. Their win over the Gators is that much more impressive when you consider that no other SEC team has come within three touchdowns of beating Florida.

And last week Ole Miss took care of a patsy 59-0 while rolling up 520 yards of offense. How’d LSU do against its patsy last week?

So what do the Rebels bring to town? A pretty strong ground game (No. 30 nationally), a middle-of-the-road pass game (No. 68), a strong rush defense (No. 13) and a weak pass defense (No. 84). Sound familiar? Ole Miss is like Alabama on offense and Georgia on defense – though not as strong as either of those teams.

What LSU needs to do to beat Ole Miss is play like they’re down 28 with 20 minutes to play. Put yet more faith in Jarrett Lee to throw the ball enough to open up the run – lack of faith in Lee was the main reason LSU was held to three points against Troy mid-way through the third quarter. And defensively shut down the run, pressure the quarterback and make Ole Miss beat you through the air. Faith in your offense; faith in your defense – seems pretty obvious.

If Leslie & Co. play the Ole Miss game like they started out playing Troy, it’ll be yet another long afternoon in Tiger Stadium. I’m going to put faith in the coaching staff that they realize this and won’t let the Tigers dig themselves a hole, and I’ll put just enough faith in Lee to not give the game away.

LSU 31 – 30

Elsewhere in the SEC:

A very slim slate of games is “highlighted” by LSU / Ole Miss, and there’s not much more to get excited about.

Tennessee at Vandy: What the hell – I’ll go ‘Dores

Vandy 17 – 9

Arkansas at Mississippi State: Is there anything to like about this game? Cellar Dweller War!

Hogs 24 – 17

The Citadel at Florida: Oof.

Gators 116 – 8

SEC Week 12 Recap

I’ve said all I care to about the LSU / Troy game, but I will note my prediction was 42 – 20. So Troy made it closer than I thought, and obviously things unfolded not like I expected – or as they should have. And it was a different defensive back that scored on Jarrett Lee’s latest gift, not the guy I was expecting it to be.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Florida’s blowout of South Carolina was really impressive. I looked for more defense from the Cocks and a closer game. But it was South Carolina making the mistakes as I figured. I just thought they could keep things closer.

The surprise in the Georgia / Auburn game was the Dawgs’ ineffective offense. Just 28 more yards and three fewer points than UT-Martin put on the War Eagles? Oof.

Alabama took care of Mississippi State as expected.

Kentucky couldn’t keep the Randall “Not Tex” Cobb momentum going and lost to Vandy. I’d expected more and blew the pick. And it did not escape my notice that the ‘Cats put up 90 more yards and 14 more points on Georgia than they did on Vandy.

And then we have Ole Miss, who dropped 520 yards and 59 points on UL-Monroe while holding the Warhawks scoreless and with just 131 yards of offense. UL-M rang up 341 yards and 27 points on Arkansas earlier this year. That performance is quite noteworthy with the Rebels visiting Baton Rouge Saturday.

For the week: 5 – 1
For the season: 64 – 10

LSU comeback on Troy – the Tiger offense

OK, so the last bit I feel compelled to add about the “historic” LSU comeback against Troy is how the Tigers managed to come back from 28 down in the middle of the third quarter. The comeback was remarkable in how unremarkable LSU’s offense was in making it happen.

Yes, Jarrett Lee made some good throws. He also made some bad ones during the comeback. Pretty typical (minus another interception). And Jordan Jefferson delivered a touchdown scramble on fourth down for the Tigers’ first touchdown. But there was really nothing special about the drives – it’s really just what you would have expected the Tigers to do all game against Troy.

The comeback started with 6:24 left in the third. And down 28, LSU consumed 4:58 on their first touchdown drive. The lack of a sense of urgency was remarkable. Either the Tiger coaches felt confident that they had shut Troy down and would get plenty of possessions in the fourth and lots of time to score or they figured the game was lost.

After Jefferson’s run to bring the game to 31-10, Troy managed to run all of 1:08 on their next possession. Lee then engineered his one really good drive (4-for4 with long completions to Tolliver and LaFell) as the Tigers went 86 yards in 1:18. Without that drive, I think the game is done. But Lee came through. Remember, of course, this was Troy – but I give him credit for not folding at that point.

Troy’s next possession lasted all of 1:06 and LSU got the ball back on their own 40. Another four (safe) completions by Lee, a facemask penalty by Troy and a Charles Scott blast near the goalline brought things to 31 – 24 with 10:33 left.

And 58 seconds later, LSU has the ball on Troy’s 13 after Chad Jones’ interception. The Tigers ran off 1:41 before Colt David’s field goal brought things to 31 – 27 with 7:51 left.

On its next possession, Troy ate up a whopping 35 seconds before punting back to LSU. Despite starting from mid-field, Lee couldn’t move the Tigers, and LSU went three-and-out. Of course, Troy touched the punt, giving LSU the ball back at the Troy 21 with 6:26 left. Two screen passes and a good throw to Tolliver got LSU to the 4, and Scott punched it in. The Tigers went ahead with 4:50 left.

And it was all over after that. Troy squandered its chance to get into field goal range, and LSU scored again to finish things out at 40 – 31.

But a couple of things can’t be overlooked. First is that LSU simply ran its regular offense and scored on six of its final seven drives. That should be expected against Troy – it was only remarkable because LSU failed to execute its offense so badly for the first 39 minutes of the game. But, more significantly, Troy absolutely threw the game away with horrible clock management. Up by 17 with 16:26 remaining in the game, the Trojans held the ball an average of 56 seconds on their next four possessions and gained an average of 3.75 yards on each drive.

Notwithstanding the fact that Troy gave up an interception and a punt muff to help the Tigers out, the horrible time management spelled doom for Troy. Running the ball into the line three times on each of those four drives would have eaten up somewhere around nine minutes and likely would have gained more than 15 yards. Instead, Troy consumed less than four minutes and gave LSU a short field with the interception.

Those extra six minutes gave LSU the luxury of time they should not have had. Beyond that, it was play like you should have been playing – easy deal.

Troy’s offense and the art of stealing signals

I really don’t care to say a whole lot more about LSU’s pathetic game last night against Troy, but the Chicago Tribune gets the headline right:

LSU’s big rally holds off … Troy? (tip thanks to extraface).

There’s nothing heroic about getting yourself into such a hole against a patsy team that you almost can’t get out of it. Teams like LSU should drop 40 points on a team like Troy, but the end result should be like the Tigers’ 41-13 win over App State or the 41-3 win over North Texas. It should be 30 points dropped on the patsy in the first 20 minutes, not the last.

But enough of that. Thinking people will see this for what it’s worth – I’ll leave it to The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) and Scott Rabalais to pretend this was anything but embarrassing.

Now, those of you “lucky” enough to have seen the game on TigerVision no doubt noticed what Troy was doing that got them out to the 31-3 lead and let them throw down four 50-plus-yard drives in their first eight possessions. Their offense – at least against the Tigers – was built around wholesale adjustments on offense to the scheme LSU’s defense lined up in, and it worked really well for more than half of the game. Adjustments at the line are nothing new (Georgia works it very well), but what Troy did was on a completely different level.

Troy’s quarterback checked the sideline before each play, and sometimes the play proceeded as called. But more often than not, the entire offense – linemen included – would step completely off the line to get what must have been an entirely new play call coming in from the sideline. This is what it looked like in the first half:

What Troy adjustments look like

Notice the reactions of LSU’s defense. Sometimes they almost jumped offsides when the Troy line got up; and they always had this “WTF?” reaction to having to get geared back up for the play.

Over on the Troy sideline, here’s what was happening:

So major adjustments were coming in based on LSU’s defensive alignment, and throughout the first half, this was the result:

See the defense, call your play based on what they’re doing … move the ball. Time and time again, that was the story of Troy’s offense.

But a funny thing happened in the second half. LSU’s defenders stopped looking frustrated and started focusing on something else:

That’s Ricky Jean-Francois (90) and Jacob Cutrera (54) picking up the play call from the four Troy coaches calling in signals (and, no doubt, decoy signals).

This play happens to be the Chad Jones interception. Now watch the play run and see how Cutrera keys on the receiver who gets thrown to even before the ball is snapped.

There’s no reading the quarterback’s eyes or thoughts of covering the guy coming across the field the other way – Cutrera clearly reads the signal, adjusts out of what looks like a blitz and doubles the guy they’re gonna throw to. Jean-Francois also seems to adjust out of his pass rush to fall back to where the pass was going after picking up the play.

Maybe the LSU coaches pressed SuperMike into service to decode the complex algorithms of the four Troy coaches flapping their arms, but it’s very clear that just as Troy’s early success came from knowing what LSU was doing on defense, LSU’s success late came from turning the tables on them.

UPDATE: This piece has been picked up by the fine folks at – as well as the very fine folks at – and, of course, the fine members of TigerDroppings have many fine opinions of their own. Several of those opinions are circling around the idea that I’m out of my freaking mind thinking LSU lifted Troy’s signals.

So, as a public service, I shall offer some additional supporting evidence in rebuttal to general questioning I’ve seen of the plausibility and specifically this stuff (that’s right, Josh336, I’m talking to you. Joshes 335 and 337, I got no beef).

The first and best challenge is the “why can’t this guy find another example from a different play with the same thing happening?” Hey, no problem. The play I posted was pretty freaking clear if you ask me, but there’s definitely more.

The three other very clear examples are all Ricky Jean-Francois doing the obvious spying. This one is from the second quarter right before Troy’s third touchdown. You very clearly see R J-F pop up and move to his left to get a look back at the Troy sideline. He then points at a receiver to his left. Turns out he was wrong, perhaps, as the quarterback looked just briefly at that receiver before going to his right.

The second one is from early in the third quarter on Troy’s last touchdown drive. Again you see R J-F get up and actually move over to his left to see around the offensive lineman in front of him. It doesn’t look like he got much but “pass” out of the signals.

And finally, we have R J-F in the fourth quarter. He clearly spies the sideline and, though it’s hard to see with the TigerVision-to-YouTube quality losses, he points eagerly over to the receivers to his right. Guess where the ball is thrown.

So there you go on that.

The second thing out there is the idea that LSU’s players aren’t picking up signals because they stop looking at the coaches before the coaches stop flapping their arms around. That’s very true, but Troy’s offense also stops looking at the coaches before the coaches stop flapping their arms around. There was a very good shot of this on Troy’s first touchdown drive. Watch the coaches behind the quarterback – they continue on with their spasms well after the offense is reset and no longer watching them.

OK, so that’s the stuff clearly refuted by video evidence. The other argument comes from the notion that LSU’s players couldn’t possibly pick up on “all those signals”. People who believe that are missing a couple of very important points:

1) I strongly suspect that three of the coaches are decoys whose signals are not the play, and only one coach is actually communicating the play – my guess, the only guy wearing white pants. No, it wouldn’t be possible to pick up all the signals from all the coaches that quickly (even if you play for Troy), but I seriously doubt you need to.

2) Troy’s entire offense has learned these signals and don’t seem to have a problem picking them up from the coach. I have to imagine the LSU players are equally capable of understanding signals – it’s just that Troy assumes they won’t know which signal is real and what it means. I think they were wrong there, at least later in the game.

Challenge the evidence and theory if you like. I saw what I saw.

I should also clarify a couple of points. It was a cute line for me to say LSU’s late success on defense came from reading signals, but I shouldn’t leave the impression that I think stealing signals was the sole or main reason LSU managed to shut down Troy. LSU switched to a better scheme and Troy played much worse offensively in the second half. But the signal stuff is definitely noteworthy and interesting to me.

Secondly, I don’t really have a problem with this tactic by LSU. I think it’s a reasonable counter-measure for the defense to try to know what the offense is going to do when the offense is seeing what the defense is going to do before calling their play. And NCAA rules talk only of using recording devices to pick up signals, so I’m certainly not saying LSU cheated by doing this.

It was TROY, for fucksake

Admittedly, TigerVision is not the place for deep, rational analysis. But this notion of “the greatest comeback in LSU football history” has to be put to rest real quickly as it relates to the Tigers’ 40-31 win over Troy.

We came back and won this game because we were playing Troy. The question is – how the hell do you find yourself down 31-3 to Troy?

Pathetic, embarrassing, ridiculous.

SEC Week 12 Predictions

So LSU has Troy “Not Troy State” University coming to town tomorrow. I’m going to assume LSU wins this game. It would speak very poorly of my confidence in the Tigers if I didn’t.

But there are definitely things to look for tomorrow night (beyond whether LSU is in purple jerseys). The Trojans put up 431 yards of offense and score 31 points a game. I think it’s a fair expectation that LSU would hold them very significantly below their averages. They dropped 400+ yards on Oklahoma State and 300+ on Ohio State. A good LSU defensive performance would be holding them under 300 yards; a very good night would be holding them under 250.

And Troy’s leading interceptor is Sherrod Martin (4). Let’s see if he scores a touchdown!

Leslie’s old team also put up 600+ yards and 55 points on Troy. I wouldn’t expect that level of offense, and hopefully LSU will be focusing more on good execution above a big score. I do hope we see significant Jordan Jefferson time, and I would think Jarrett Lee is pulled in just slightly, but still given enough rope to prove / hang himself.

LSU 42 – 20

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 25 South Carolina at No. 4 Florida: This should be an interesting one. Ten games in, you have to believe South Carolina’s defense (No. 3 nationally in total defense) is legitimate. If they can contain Tebow & Co, this one could turn on who makes the fewest mistakes. And I’ll bet on the Cocks to out-mistake the Gators.

Florida 27 – 24

No. 10 Georgia at Auburn: Week after week, I keep saying Auburn has to tighten up and play better at some point. But as Coach Lundy told us in 10th-grade P.E. when somebody asked if we had to dress out when it was pouring down rain and we were supposed to be doing track & field – you don’t have to do anything. The War Eagles seem content with just throwing this season away and starting fresh in the Spring.

Dawgs 35 – 27

Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama: There’s too much solid play on the Tide side for them to screw this up against MSU.

Bama 24 – 10

Vanderbilt at Kentucky: I like the prospect that the ‘Cats have found new life under Randall “Not Tex” Cobb.

Kentucky 31 – 20

UL-Monroe at Ole Miss:

Rebels 38 – 17

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