Oct 4, 2010 11:40 AM by Letitia Walker
You've been RANTing all weekend about LSU's win over Tennessee. Now we want to hear it! Send your RANTs to hoyt at firstname.lastname@example.org. We could air them tonight!
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Les Miles didn't know whether to be angry or giddy.
He had promised several times before to fix the LSU offense's recurring problems with clock management - issues that have spanned several seasons and which last year left the Tigers with one of the most mystifying and talked about losses in school history against
And yet, here were the 12th-ranked Tigers on Saturday, looking
lost while more than 20 seconds ticked off during a third-and-goal
from the 1 in the final half-minute of regulation. It was a debacle
in the making until Tennessee got caught with too many defenders on
the field during a play the Tigers completely botched.
That gave LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) the reprieve it needed to remain
unbeaten as the Tigers head to Florida on Saturday.
"It eats at you and still does," Miles said, adding that he
was embarrassed by the final, frantic, time-wasting sequence of
plays. "This team has got to play better than it played. They
should have never come down to the back end of this game as tight
as it was."
Then the coach's face brightened as he thought of Stevan
Ridley's powerful run that lifted the Tigers to their bizarre 16-14
win on an untimed down made possible by Tennessee's penalty.
"As an experience, I'm going to enjoy that one, as much as I
hate to admit it," Miles said.
Miles described the wacky conclusion as "something that I don't
know that I've ever seen in my entire life.
"They just called (Tennessee) the winner, and then, whoa, whoa,
whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, come on back here, and then they called us
That of course, didn't answer the question of why LSU didn't
have a second play called in the event a second-down option play
from the 2 - on which Jefferson was stopped on the 1 - didn't
result in a score.
"It was a difficult scenario to get the two plays called,"
LSU had already burned its timeouts, in part because play calls
were coming in from the sideline late all game.
That same issue contributed to a delay-of-game call on a
fourth-and-9 earlier on that final drive. The blunder presented LSU
with a do-or-die, fourth-and-14 that backup Jarrett Lee executed
with a 21-yard pass to Terrence Toliver.
LSU might not have gotten off a final play in regulation if not
for a desperation shotgun snap by center T-Bob Hebert, who saw the
final seconds melting away and zipped the ball back to Jordan
Jefferson before the quarterback called for it. Hebert was mindful
of how a potential winning drive last year at Ole Miss stalled on
the Rebels' 5-yard line as time ran out, with the Tigers down by
less than a field goal.
Although the snap got off this time, Jefferson mishandled it and
tried to fall on the ball as Tennessee players piled on him. It
looked like the game was over, but a flag had been thrown in the
end zone, and the Volunteers' celebrations came to an abrupt end
when officials said the penalty was on Tennessee. That gave LSU
another shot from the 1.
When Ridley scored, LSU players celebrated on the field, but the
moods turned somber in the locker room when Miles chastised them
for a mistake-filled performance that included four turnovers (and
a minus-4 turnover differential) and nine penalties for 54 yards.
"This team's got to play better," Miles said.
Senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said afterward that team
leaders had called a players-only meeting for Sunday.
"We can't keep playing like this too much longer," receiver
Rueben Randle said. "We are in the meat of our schedule now. We
absolutely have to start playing better together as an offensive
unit or it is going to start costing us games. ... The problems
seem to be the same each and every week - lack of execution and
penalties. We are killing ourselves and that is stopping productive
drives. That has to stop."
One key change Miles made to address the offense's woeful
passing attack was to insert Lee for more meaningful snaps.
Jefferson had thrown for fewer than 100 yards and no TDs in each of
the previous three games. Playing only about half the snaps against
Tennessee, Lee threw for 185 yards, including a 47-yard completion
to Randle. That convinced Miles that Lee - plagued by 16
interceptions as a freshman in 2008 - was ready to be a regular
part of the offense again.
"We need to play both quarterbacks," Miles said.
Now LSU's schedule gets tougher. Beyond this Saturday's game in
The Swamp, LSU's remaining road games include trips to Auburn and
Arkansas. The Tigers will host top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 6.
"Our team needs to play better. I take that to heart. Our guys
need to not play sloppy," Miles said. "I promise you this:
they'll hear my raunchy side Monday morning."