To begin, who do you have being LSU's next head coach? And how soon?
Next week? Don't laugh. It is a possibility ... if Jacksonville (Ala.) State -- no pushover -- does to the Fighting (?) Tigers what Wisconsin did on Saturday.
Wouldn't surprise me. Nothing with LSU football for the last dozen years under head coach Les Miles surprises me.
|Brandon Harris and his LSU teammates were woeful and |
embarrassed against Wisconsin at Green Bay's Lambeau Field.
(photo by Benny Sieu/USA Today Sports)
Can't lose four of your last six games at LSU and not feel the heat.
Lose your season opener, which had never happened to Miles before at LSU, and lose it with the promise of a better-balanced and maybe even more exciting offense -- didn't happen -- and the hot seat is burning.
I was ambivalent during the "Miles is fired" onslaught last November. But I'm worn out now.
A change might be a good thing. I think it was Steve Spurrier -- now the ex-Head Ball Coach -- who suggested that a dozen years is enough for any head coach at schools these days. The days of long-time tenures (think Joe Paterno, Tom Osborne, Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden, Mack Brown) now are rare.
Time for Les to go? More days like Saturday, and it'll be an easy decision. Maybe even Les will agree, although -- as LSU faithful know well -- he is one stubborn individual.
Keep reading that LSU has as much or more football talent on campus than most schools (except maybe Alabama). I said this last year, and I will repeat: Not true.
Most people will tell you that the Tigers' main problems the past few years are (1) coaching, be it Miles and/or offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Cam Cameron and (2) quarterback play.
Yes, yes, and yes. But here is what I believe is the biggest problem: The Tigers' linemen -- offense and defense -- are vastly overrated.
Better line play, and a lot of problems are solved. But -- my opinion -- against better teams, the Tigers have been whipped up front consistently the past couple of years.
They've rarely been as dominant as some of the LSU lines for most of Miles' first 10 years there.
You saw it Saturday. Wisconsin's defensive front so badly outplayed, outmaneuvered, out-willed LSU's offensive line that it made all the difference in the game.
I've read several reviews that said LSU's defense played at least decently, considering how much it was forced to play. I don't agree.
Yes, it was the defense which scored the first LSU touchdown and set up the second one with a forced Wisconsin turnover.
Truth is, the Badgers had several time-consuming drives -- punching holes against the LSU linemen/linebackers or space in the secondary because the Tigers rarely pressured the Wisconsin QB (certainly not to the extent that the Wisconsin defense harassed Brandon Harris).
When it came to crunch time, LSU trying to protect a 14-13 lead, Wisconsin kept the ball 4 1/2 minutes and drove 48 yards (eight plays, three first downs) to the winning field goal.
The Badgers had 21 first downs, 339 total yards, 19 pass completions ... and a couple of near-misses. They should have won more easily than they did.
So overall LSU's defense was hardly impressive, not anything like some of LSU's finer defenses over the years (the last one in 2011).
I had to laugh when one of my friends -- not an LSU fan -- sent me a message right as the game ended, saying "I really miss the Chinese Bandits."
Very (not) funny.
Now about the LSU offense ... what's new? Nothing.
Boring. Haphazard. Not creative enough. Not nearly. Watch other teams' offenses and they're efficient and often unpredictable.
The quarterback is too erratic; same problem for nine years, or since Matt Flynn in 2007 (national title).
Zach Mettenberger had some very good games (and great receivers) in his two seasons as the starter (2012-13) but also some subpar ones. Harris is looking more and more like Jordan Jefferson (2008-11) and Anthony Jennings (2014).
Leonard Fournette is outstanding -- a pro star developing -- but even he cannot do it on his own enough times to overcome a lack of blocking.
Too many three-and-outs, too many failures (short on 3rd-and-1, then 4th-and-1), too many off-target Harris passes (high, low, wide), two sacks, repeated hurries, too many unblocked defenders spoiling plays.
Tell me if I'm wrong, but LSU in recent years can never throw an effective screen pass. Either the ball is poorly thrown, or a defender breaks through and makes the tackle after a short or no gain (as Wisconsin did Saturday in a crucial situation).
As usual, two wasted time outs when play calls didn't come in fast enough from the sideline (or Harris didn't read them quickly enough). A typically weird "explanation" by Miles after the game.
A really dumb timeout call by Harris with 2 seconds left in the third quarter to avoid a delay-of-game call. (Take the darned penalty, and save the much more valuable timeout.)
You'd think he would have improved over last season -- with more coaching from Cameron. Nope -- not yet.
(If you look at Cameron's resume, his many stops and many good coaching ties, you'd think better results. He has had some success, but rarely at a championship level. He does have a Super Bowl ring, with the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 NFL season ... and they fired him with two games remaining in the regular season.)
I'm not a fan. Sorry. I've seen many more effective play-callers and quarterbacks coaches.
Kicking game? Also, still inconsistent and often harmful, a poor punting game and kickoffs that are either short or out of bounds. Happens much too often. Bradley Dale Peveto has been called a good special-teams coach. I question that ... often. Again, not a fan.
I am a fan of Brandon Harris, as I wrote last year. The kid is from Bossier City and from the school in what was our neighborhood in the 1980s. Playing QB at LSU is a high-profile, high-pressure job. Hope he grows into it; I know he wants to.
One of my thoughts on the Miles era: The Tigers invariably make it interesting, they more often than not play to the level of their opponent.
Another thought: If the opposing team is smart and well-coached, and its talent can come close to matching LSU's, it has a great chance to beat the Tigers.
Wisconsin, on Saturday, was smart, well-coached and more talented than LSU fans might have expected.
I've written this before, and I'll say it again; it is something everyone knows: Miles has been one of the nation's luckiest coaches. But luck has turned on him and hasn't bailed him out much in recent years.
In other years, Wisconsin might have missed that final field goal.
Oh, there's still the great escapes. Take you back to last season when LSU escaped losses -- Mississippi State and Syracuse, to pick two games -- mainly because Fournette made some spectacular runs to save the Tigers' butts.
Miles better find that lucky charm in the next dozen weeks. He needs to coax his linemen and his QB to play much better and -- and his coaches to find solutions.
Glenn Guilbeau, who writes columns and stories on LSU for the Gannett Co. papers in the state (Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Lafayette) and is one of several Louisiana writers I respect a lot, reminded us Sunday that Miles will not change his philosophies or his quirky ways. He is who he is.
Might not work much longer here. You can bet that LSU's money brokers in the anti-Miles faction are looking at an offensive-minded head coach successor.
Already, with the Tigers at 0-1, we're reading/hearing Jimbo Fisher (again), Tom Herman (the hot name at Houston), the unemployed Art Briles (fired in a scandal at Baylor) ... and here is one someone suggested to me -- with a controversial career somewhat rehabilitated as the offensive play-caller at Alabama, Lane Kiffin.
Spurrier is available. LSU has its chance with him once.
But maybe Miles and his staff -- and it is a good defensive staff, especially -- can salvage this mess. They better hurry. No. 5 (a ranking far too high, I thought) should be number zero now.
I have told a few friends this already, but have been reluctant to say it publicly about LSU football. However, I suspect a few people will agree with me:
People know: I love LSU, and I love Louisiana Tech. Never would root against either one -- in any endeavor, but especially not in football.
But as I hinted in a blog post last week, I no longer love football; I merely endure it these days.
After watching LSU in that woeful game Saturday, I made a decision: I'm not watching for a while. Don't enjoy it, don't need the stress or aggravation.
So call me a front-runner. But until things improve, I figure the Tigers can win or lose without me. I'll record the games and watch them later because I'm interested. I apologize for this -- but the Les Miles era has become too hard for me to endure.