SEC Week 11 Recap

Oh where has my enthusiasm for the football season gone? That’s right – it was thrown poorly, caught by a linebacker and run back for a touchdown. Repeatedly. I’m sick of all this talk of LSU’s still having a “pretty good year”.

Yeah, nine wins would have been a dream in the mid-1990s, but it’s not as simple as that. You have to both look at the team you have right now and what you’ve done game to game. LSU isn’t better than Florida, so that loss doesn’t bother me. But we are at least on par with Georgia and Alabama. If the Tigers were coached up, those are very doable wins. I don’t feel good at all about losing both of those games. Nor do I feel good about what it took to beat Auburn and South Carolina or the poor defensive numbers compared to recent history.

Athletic talent can only take you so far. And when you have issues (Jarrett Lee, the young defensive backfield), coaching needs to play an even bigger role in engineering wins. It just doesn’t seem like that is happening.

I’d picked LSU to beat Alabama, and obviously we should have. There’s no way I can feel good about losing that game and potentially ending up 9-3 this year.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Georgia got a scare from Kentucky, largely in the form of Randall “Not Tex” Cobb. Credit should go to the ‘Cats for rushing up an effective new attack after losing their key playmakers. And the 42-38 score clearly shows where the Dawgs are right now – high-powered offense, not much defense.

The Cocks looked pretty decent in dispatching Arkansas. Hey, South Carolina is the best team LSU has beaten all year!

The Vols’ loss to Wyoming was pretty stunning, even for this year’s mess up in Knoxville. That just shouldn’t happen.

Likewise, Auburn’s 17-point win over UT-Martin was just pathetic. Actually tied at 20 in the third quarter … you gotta figure Tubs is already shopping for a new job. It’s a mess over there.

For the week: 4 – 2
For the season: 59 – 19

Sirius music channels win in XM merger

Word is leaking out about what the XM lineup will look like in a post-merger world. Supposedly the switch is going to be flipped on this very soon. Loyal Wisdom readers will recall that I’m a Sirius fan from way back, have never been very impressed with the music of XM and didn’t hold out much hope that the far-superior music lineup of Sirius would survive the merger.

So I’m really happy to see that Sirius’ music lineup is apparently winning the battle for bandwidth over XM’s completely unforgettable roster of stations. Yep, Underground Garage is there, along with Outlaw Country, 1st Wave, Classic Rewind and Classic Vinyl. Looks like the B.B. King-branded XM blues station sticks around, which is probably OK. Can’t say I’ve listened much to XM blues before, so I’ll leave that judgment to somebody with better ears for it (TCL).

But, alas, I am soon to no longer be a Sirius subscriber. My annual subscription expires on the 14th and I’m not renewing. It’s not a reflection of my views on Sirius or satellite radio; it’s purely a fiscal decision being driven by us being a one-income household right now and the fact that not having a job means not being in the car much to listen to Sirius. But I am at home a lot, and by virtue of being a Dish Network customer, I get all the Sirius music through my TV anyway at no added cost.

I’m proud to have been an early adopter of satellite radio (Nov. 14, 2003), and it’s still a technology that’ll be high on my list when I get back into a mode where I can really take advantage of it. The new XM lineup will probably get me on as an “XM” subscriber instead of a “Sirius” subscriber now, though. They’ve got SEC football and my TL has an XM-equipped radio built in.

LSU loss to Alabama, part II – the defense

The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper) this morning is filled with tales of heroism and references to the “epic” game played in Tiger Stadium yesterday. As any reader of that paper knows, homerism is to be expected. The softness with which they treat Jarrett Lee has become familiar – praising the hell out of his good throws, making excuses for the interceptions they find fault of others in and glossing over the truly horrendous mistakes of Lee.

But what’s bothering me more this morning is this notion published in The Advocate and generally spreading online of “‘D’ shines, but Tigers still fail“. Maybe it’s a reflection of LSU’s diminished expectations on defense, but I would hardly call giving up 353 yards to a team that averages 369 “shining”.

Yes, it was very good to see LSU’s defense not collapse this week and give up ridiculous scores (thanks, in large part, to Earl Alexander basically handing the ball to Chad Jones at the one-yard line and John Parker Wilson’s touchdown scramble being called back for holding), and nine of 12 Bama drives ending in either punts or turnovers means the defense did its job.

Look, though, deeper into this season and you can see how LSU’s defensive performance against the Tide was completely average. In SEC play, Bama was held to fewer rushing yards than LSU allowed (138) by both Ole Miss and Georgia, and fewer passing yards (215) by Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Ole Miss held Bama to 326 total yards and 24 points – better than LSU in yards and just one of Bama’s two missed/blocked field goals worse in points.

Had the LSU defense truly “shined” and completely shut down Bama’s offense – like Tulane did (172 total yards, 20 points allowed) – the Tigers would have been in a better position to overcome Jarrett Lee. But they were just average. Given LSU’s performances against Florida and Georgia, average was very good to see. It just wasn’t enough.

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.

Les Miles – “I don’t read books”

OK, way late on this considering it was from his Monday press conference (and thanks to TCL for the heads-up), but Leslie’s revelation seems to amuse everybody who’s seen it in online signatures of mine, so what the heck … enjoy.

SEC Week 11 Predictions

It’s Fonziefest Saturday in Baton Rouge. Mr. Saban and Co. roll in to town with a No. 1 ranking and the ire of all of Louisiana glaring down on the coach. No. 16 LSU is wounded, humiliated and all but out of the SEC West race. If ever there was a time to pull everything together, this is it for LSU.

When you start to take a look at Alabama, one thing jumps right out – No. 2 rushing defense, allowing just 65.56 yards per game.

But I’m not quite sure I buy it. At the very least, the rush defense of Alabama hasn’t been put to much of a test. Only three teams they’ve faced (Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas State) average more than 150 yards per game on the ground, which is literally the middle of the pack mark when it comes to rushing offenses across the country. And while the Tide held each of those teams below their rush average, Ole Miss managed to put 158 rush yards on them.

So what does Ole Miss do well? They use speed to get to the edges. And therein, I believe, lies the key to attacking Alabama.

LSU focused a lot of effort in last week’s game on getting the ball to Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy – the fast guys of the rush offense. Williams got the most carries in the game (13) and Murphy got as many as Charles Scott (12). Tiger fans looked for Bama planning during the Tulane game and were disappointed to not see more passing by Jarrett Lee. But I think what LSU might have been working on was a corner-heavy rush game to throw at Bama.

And I think LSU can be successful at it.

The Tiger passing game will be what it will be, and the Tide offers opportunities, as their pass defense is unspectacular (34th in the country). Put Lee on a tighter leash and LSU can put up numbers against Alabama.

Defensively, the Tigers should be able to focus on shutting down the run and make John Parker Wilson be a better passer than his numbers suggest. Bama gets just 163.67 passing yards a game (102nd in the country), and JPW has broken 200 yards just twice this year. Faith this week needs to be placed in the defensive backs and LSU should drop the hammer on the run.

Mistakes, of course, would kill the Tigers. There’s a lot of growing up that needs to be done this week.

But I think this one is doable. Run to the edges, throw Jordan Jefferson at Bama a bit, let Lee take his shots when he can and make John Parker Wilson beat you with his arm.

Tigers 31 – 30

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 5 Florida at Vanderbilt. Oh, Vandy. You and your five wins (and three straight losses). You’re trying to be bowl eligible; Florida is trying to claw its way back up toward the BCS title game.

Gators 56 – 13

No. 13 Georgia at Kentucky. An emotionally-wounded Georgia team visits a physically-wounded Kentucky team. The Dawgs have the ability to pull themselves back together. The ‘Cats do not.

Georgia 42 – 27

Arkansas at South Carolina. Kind of a big deal for Spurrier this week. His team has a shot to go 7-3 going in to the Florida game next week. I don’t think Arkansas stands in his way.

Cocks 24 – 20

Wyoming at Tennessee. I think even the lame-duck Fulmer staff can take the Cowboys.

Vols 28 – 10

Tennessee-Martin at Auburn. Would you believe UT-M has the No. 2 scoring offense in the country? They do, helped greatly by dropping 87 points on Concordia-Selma earlier this season. I’d like to think Auburn could totally fall apart with a loss here, but that’s just crazy talk.

War Eagles 17 – 9

Also, I could have sworn I posted a recap of last week, but I guess not. I was 4-3 for the week to move to 55-17 on the season.

Why does CNN shrink my TV by 50% on Election Day?

For all that CNN has done well this campaign season (and they’ve done a lot well), it’s insanely annoying that they jam the screen up with all sorts of things that aren’t why I am watching and actually shrink the size of “CNN” itself by 50%.

They’ve got this marginally useful area to the right showing when polls close and what the weather is in different states, a whole extra banner of mostly useless trivia taking up space at the bottom, pure dead space above the TV image – and on CNNHD they just fill the extra space on the sides with wallpaper.

So on my 44″ television, I get a 22″ picture of CNN. There’s a reason I didn’t buy a 22″ television, guys.

I actually like your programming, so why do you shrink it by 50%?

UGA fan’s awesome corndog gag

So I was watching this horrible “FCS Tailgate Tour” show that my DVR picked up from the LSU / UGA game the weekend before last and it featured this awesome UGA fan’s gag:

Loyal Wisdom readers will recall that this lame “LSU fans smell like corndogs” thing has made the rounds (short story – some Auburn fan’s senses go to “corndog” when he smells fried food), and I guess this Dawg fan wanted to get in on the action. So he makes himself a little “FREE CORNDOGS” sign and stands around holding it up for the world to behold his awesomeness and so LSU fans will cry.

You go, Dawg. Lemme hear the “woof, woof” thing like Arsenio’s audience used to do.

Had he been a little more studied on LSU tendencies, he might have made a “FREE FOOTBALL-TO-YOUR-ENDZONE DELIVERY SERVICE” sign in honor of Jarrett Lee, but no.

Les Miles’ ‘get out the vote’ message

Inspiring words from our fearless leaders to kick off today’s press conference.

The man is a wordsmith.

SEC Week 10 Predictions

No, I don’t have much enthusiasm for college football right now. But I shall at least make picks.

Tulane comes in to Baton Rouge to face the Tigers. What the hell am I to make of the Greenies? 36th nationally in total offense, but 95th in scoring offense. 33rd in total defense but 80th in scoring defense. Does not compute. Does Tulane drive to the opponents’ one-yard line and then just hand the ball to a linebacker and let him run it back for a touchdown? Bizarre.

But this is a team that lost by 31 to Army and 25 to Rice.

LSU 45 – 27

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 6 Georgia and No. 8 Florida. The Gators bring a better defense than LSU and a better offense as well. Georgia allowed 497 yards in the LSU game. And the Gators have a lot to prove after losing last year.

Florida 41 – 34

Auburn at Ole Miss. Both teams are 4-4 and 2-3 in conference play. But the feelings about those results could not be more different in Oxford and Opelika. Dare I say Auburn finally figures out a way to move the ball consistently? Had Ole Miss performed better against Arkansas, I would probably pick them here.

War Eagles 17 – 16

Tennessee at South Carolina. They say it’s the game to save Phil Fulmer’s job. There’s not much reason to see a chance for Tennessee here, but anything is possible.

Cocks 14 – 9

Kentucky at Mississippi State. A real stinker between teams that are both 1-3 in conference play. Too many important guys out for the ‘Cats, but Croom doesn’t bring much to the table. I’ll go with the ‘Cats defense here.

Kentucky 20 – 17

Tulsa at Arkansas. Tulsa throws up 624 yards and 56 points a game. Seriously. Yes, it’s against bad competition, but that’s what Arkansas is.

Golden Hurricane 42 – 20

Arkansas State at Alabama. Seems like years since Fonzie’s boys played a good team.

Tide 38 – 13

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