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Sunday, September 30, 2007

A little bit of irony

In January of 2004, LSU fans (not all, but a lot) were highly critical of the AP poll for awarding its share of the national championship to USC while LSU won the coaches' poll title as part of the Bowl Championship Series.

Here in 2007, USC is No. 1 in the coaches poll and the Harris poll - the two polls used in the BCS formula - while LSU is No. 1 in the AP poll.

Is this great or what?

Wonder how many LSU fans will complain about the AP poll now? Or will some LSU fans complain about the coaches' poll and the Harris poll? Or will LSU fans just be happy to be No. 1 and enjoy the ride?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Embarrassing first half

Regardless of what happens in the second half - including a 40-point swing by LSU - the Tigers played an embarrassingly bad first half against 40-point underdog Tulane Saturday and led only 10-9 at the break.

The second-ranked (and falling) Tigers wore new uniforms that made them look more like I-AA Northwestern State and play more like one of Curley Hallman's teams. Apparently, Tulane, which barely beat I-AA Southeastern Louisiana last week, though LSU was I-AA Northwestern State.

The Green Wave flooded LSU's once-powerful offensive line and sacked Tigers quarterback Matt Flynn a season-high four times. There would have been a fifth sack, but LSU was called for holding with Flynn in the end zone, which gave the Wave a safety and cut LSU's lead to 7-2 with 5:56 to play in the second period.

The Tigers' running game, which ran up 312 yards last week, couldn't budge the mighty Wave and was held to a pitiful 11 yards on 12 carries.

After Flynn found Brandon LaFell for a 43-yard completion that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Jacob Hester, LSU's offense turned into the Big Sleazy. It was like it was playing against LSU's No. 1 ranked defense.

But even LSU's defense - ranked No. 1 in the nation in four categories - gave up a 58-yard touchdown drive in 11 plays to Tulane, which came into the game ranked 96th in the nation in total offense. Tailback Matt Forte led the Wave with 37 yards on 11 carries. LSU's "top" rusher was Hester with 12 yards on four carries.

Flynn had solid footing this time after the rain in Tiger Stadium last week, but he did not look much better. Constantly pressured, he was 8 of 18 for 138 yards and nearly threw an interception before Cold David's 36-yard field goal put the Tigers up late in the second quarter.

Flynn also badly overthrew wide open tight end Richard Dickson over the middle earlier in the second period. Dickson would have likely scored.

LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell also dropped two passes put right on the money by Flynn to foil LSU's drive right before the half. Flynn appeared tentative and nervous throughout the first half.

No. 2 in the country with a lot of No. 1 votes? Unless LSU lights up the scoreboard in the second half, it will fall. But it better make sure it wins first. And here's another question: Why didn't Ryan Perrilloux play until the second half?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tulane week better than open week

College football schedule makers often schedule an open date going into or coming off a major game. It gives them an extra week to get healthier and take a breath before such a game or to have an extra week to come down and get healthy afterwards.

Auburn, for example, has an open date on Nov. 17 before hosting Alabama.

LSU will host Florida on Oct. 6 in what could be the first top-five pairing in Tiger Stadium since Halloween Night 1959 when No. 1 LSU beat No. 3 Ole Miss 7-3 on Billy Cannon's legendary punt return for a touchdown. The Tigers are No. 2 now in the polls, while Florida is either No. 3 or No. 4. Should LSU get by Tulane and Florida by Auburn this week, it will be the highest pairing in Tiger Stadium in nearly half a century.

LSU does not have an open date this weekend to get ready for Florida. It has something better.

It has Tulane, a 39-point favorite to give LSU nothing but a scrimmage fodder. Open dates can backfire, particularly early in the season like here in the first month. Too much rest at the wrong time can make someone sluggish or flat. LSU's rolling right now. It doesn't need an open date, but it is nice to have a light week.

The Tigers can still get in a good workout Saturday, work up a sweat, possibly put up half a hundred on the Greenies on Saturday morning and call it a week. They can work on some plays and situations, and they can not show some plays that they have been working on. They don't really have to worry about getting beat.

The talent gap between LSU and Tulane is wider than it has been since - well - last year when the Tigers defeated the Wave 49-7. Tulane lost 38-17 to Mississippi State, which lost 45-0 to LSU. So, LSU should beat Tulane 66-0, or at least 62-0, which LSU has somehow managed to do three times in the series from 1958 through 1965, which was one of the best eras in LSU football history like the current one.

This game is also in New Orleans, which will give the Tigers that field trip feel. But it's just an hour away, so it's not like there will be any jet or bus lag. The game is also in the morning, which means it will be done with earlier than any other LSU game this season. So the Tigers will be back home early and able to get some rest.

By Sunday, they will be a refreshed, rested and ready team counting the days for Florida.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Miles handling dual QBs better than Saban

BATON ROUGE - Two quarterbacks can be better than one if you do it right.

Lou Holtz, back when he was functioning better on television, once said the best way to play two quarterbacks is to have one as the clear starter and the other as the clear backup and keep it that way unless things start going significantly south or one quarterback completley outshines the other. That way there is no confusion among the players, the fans, the media and the fans who double as media - all of which can split a team or make you lose games. That way it is not a weekly and sometimes daily competition among the two players, which would fuel the fans and media. The roles are clearly defined.

It's one of the best things Holtz has said in recent years.

LSU coach Les Miles is doing this exactly this way and exactly right. Fifth-year senior Matt Flynn - barring injury - is his starting quarterback, period. Miles has said that several times over the last few weeks as third-year sophomore backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux has blossomed.

Flynn had a poor outing in LSU's 28-16 victory over South Carolina Saturday. Yes, he was coming off an ankly injury that is still bothering him somewhat. It was a wet field, and Jared Mitchell dropped multiple passes right in his hands. But it was still a bad outing. He finished 8 of 19 for 70 yards with an interception that was his fault. But after the game, Miles has referred matter of factly to Miles as his starter. This was smart.

After Perrilloux started in place of Flynn against Middle Tennessee the week before and completed 20 of 25 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns and rushed eight times for 37 yards in a 44-0 victory, Miles said it was great to be able to get his "backup quarterback" some valuable experience. Perrilloux turned in the best first-time start of any LSU quarterback probably in history, and Miles called him his backup. This was smart. Miles is handling this situation much like coach Mike Archer handled Tommy Hodson and Mickey Guidry in 1987 and 1988, which was the best two-quarterback LSU system until now.

Miles could have played games with the media and future opponents by trying to make everyone guess who might start the next week. "We'll see how it goes this week in practice," he could've said, and opened a Pandora's box of conjecture, including among his own players. This would not be smart. This is how former coach Nick Saban mistakenly handled it in 2004.

Now Saban's two quarterbacks - JaMarcus Russell as a redshirt freshman and inconsistent senior Marcus Randall - were not as talented a pair at the time as Matt Perrilloux is now. But Saban still should have made up his mind after Randall won the Florida game and started Randall the rest of the way with Russell coming in as the backup. Instead Saban went back and forth and often no one, including the quarterbacks themselves, knew their role for specific games until sometimes the Friday before the game or game day. A better system could have won the Auburn game that year, and if Russell had played more in the Capital One Bowl, LSU would have won that game.

Now, back to 2007.

Flynn deserves to be the starter and to play most of the time. He also is a leader of the team and has been building his teammates' and coaches' confidence for five years. He's slowed a little at the moment because of the ankle and the rust from missing a game, but he'll be back and will play much better on the dry turf of the Superdome this Saturday against Tulane and the next week against Florida. If not, you've got Perrilloux as a backup plan.

Perrilloux has played great. He is a better pure passer than Flynn and is more fluid running and throwing, but he is not ready to be the starter yet. He has only been building his teammates' and coaches' confidence for about five weeks, but he very much deserves to play every game and will only get better. This bodes well for the future as Perrilloux looks like LSU's starter for 2008 and 2009 if he can keep his act together.

So LSU has the best of both worlds, which is unique in the dual-quarterback world. All the opponents know Flynn will most likely start, but they also know both quarterbacks will play. Both quarterbacks when healthy can run and throw. No opponent can say, "Oh here comes that quarterback, get ready for a run."

Better get ready for a little bit of everything out of these two guys. Look at Perrilloux. He threw 25 times against Middle Tennessee. He threw once against South Carolina. What's a defensive coordinator to think?

This was the plan of Miles and new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton since the end of last season. Crowton said so. This two-QB system didn't just start with Flynn's injury as some reporters have mistakenly thought. It was always the plan. It just had to be put on the back burner as Miles and his team waited for Perrilloux to get over his behavioral problems and get focused. Now, it's working big time.

I'm just waiting for Flynn to line up at quarterback with Perrilloux in the backfield. Maybe at Alabama.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New uniforms

I'm not a big uniform guy.

Some people get all worked up when their "team'' breaks from tradition when it comes to wearing new uniforms. Personally, I prefer the traditional attire but I'm not going to have a heart attack over a uniform.

That being said, I don't really know what to make of LSU's "special uniform'' for Saturday's Tulane game. The white helmets are OK. The purple jersey never looks good. The white pants look more modern. But the traditional piping on the shoulders is missing on the jersey.

All in all, it's not the worst thing Nike has ever done. Check out Oregon some time. But it's good that it will only be for one game.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rivalry week?

Remember when LSU and Tulane were actual rivals?

OK, you'd have to be well over 40 to remember those days. In fact, Tulane last fired a shot at LSU in 1982 when an Orange Bowl season was spoiled for LSU by an upset loss to Tulane that season.

But for LSU and Tulane to be a rivalry, several things have to happen.

1) They have to play every year. That hasn't happened with any regularity in recent years.
2) Tulane would actually have to be competitive. That's not likely on Saturday.

If anything, this is more of a rivalry that was than the LSU-Ole Miss rivalry.

For whatever reason, LSU doesn't have a mutual rival. And maybe that's a good thing for the program and its fans.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

LSU-South Carolina live blog -- Sept. 22

This was an example of another game where if you looked at the score, you would think South Carolina had a chance. The Tigers could have won this game by twice the margin they did. Things continue to look good for the Baton Rouge brigade.
Headed home ... did I mention the Chicago Cubs now have a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central. Go Cubbies!!!

Tigers in control, up 28-10 with 4:56 left.

Spurrier has thrown in the towel. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 6 and down 21 points, the ole' ball coach decided to kick a field goal. Huh? There is still 7:44 left and the ball is slick. A touchdown would have at least made a miracle possible. Now the Gamecocks are no closer to anything.
Heck, even the spread was 17.5, so that 3-pointer wasnt for the alumni either.

I can hear the purple and gold faithful now. Perrilloux! Perrilloux! Matt Flynn has had a very disappointing day. His stats are bad, but not as bad as it looks in person.
Flynn has been highly inaccurate today and just threw an interception on an ugly looking flea-flicker. Of course, Les Miles should be running that ball ... but that request is getting old.
If the passing game clicked today, the Tigers could have hung half-a-hundred on the ole' ball coach.

LSU leads 28-7 with 10:37 left. The fake field goal just before half -- and LSU's score on its first possession of the second half -- clearly put this game out of reach.

At the start of the fourth quarter, a rather disappointing chant evolved from the LSU student section. F... YOU SPURRIER belted throughout Tiger Stadium.
Not cool.
Course they won't be saying that when Miles heads to Michigan and they need a coach again.

South Carolina will face a fourth-and-3 at LSU's 34 as the fourth quarter begins. Obviously, the Gamecocks need to convert here to put any scare into Tigers faithful this afternoon.

Another strong possession thanks to a devastating running game led the Tigers to a score on their first try in the second half.
Shreveport's Jacob Hester finished things off with a 9-yard TD run up the gut.

The second half could get ugly. LSU just needs to run the ball and South Carolina will attempt to play catchup against one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the country.

Colt David took a behind-the-back pitch from Matt Flynn on a fake field goal attempt and ran 15 yards untouched for a touchdown to give LSU a 21-7 lead with 1:10 left in the half.
Steve Spurrier, one of the master of the trick play, had to admire this one.
Flynn is obviously more accurate throwing behind his back with a no-look effort than a straightforward pass.

Danny McCray picks off a pass just before it hits the turf, and after it was tipped in the air twice. LSU takes possession at Carolina's 32.

For some reason, the LSU Tigers are forcing the passing game when the running game would carve the Gamecocks to pieces. Flynn is inconsistent (that's being nice). If the Tigers just stick to smashmouth football in the rain, this game could be done by the third quarter. But nooooooo.
Colt David missed a 42-yard field goal and the Tigers waste the turnover.

South Carolina 10 carries, minus-3 yards
LSU 7 carries, 77 yards

South Carolina fumbles in the rain and Al Woods recovers to give LSU the ball at its own 46.

Now LSU is getting the hang of it. The Tigers score again as they run the ball down the Gamecocks' throats. Nine of the Tigers' first 11 running plays have gained at least 6 yards -- five went for 11 or more.
From the 1, Matt Flynn hit Richard Dickson in the back of the end zone to help the Tigers take a 14-7 lead.

The Tigers hit the ground and responded with a quick touchdown drive to tie South Carolina. Trindon Holliday capped a 4-play drive (three rushes, 1 pass) with a 33-yard touchdown on a sweep to the right. He went hit the corner relatively untouched and sped down the sidelight to pay dirt.

South Carolina moved the ball down the field with relative ease this time and cashed in with a 1-yard run from Mike Davis.
The Gamecocks are finding much more success with their passing game as opposed to the run. Don't think this game has started like many believed. I have a feeling Les Miles will have his team focus on running the ball as Flynn continues to be inaccurate in his return.
Remember, South Carolina gives up more than 192 yards a game on the ground.

Shreveport's Jacob Hester collected a pair of first downs on the ground on the Tigers' second chance on offense. However, the Tigers seem to be forcing the passing game early and Flynn continues to overthrown his targets.
South Carolina nearly struck first as Jared Mitchell fumbled the ball amidst a host of Gamecocks, who each would have had a free run into the end zone. But the ball bounced right back into his hands. LSU collects first break of game.

South Carolina garnered on first down on its second possession of the day and look as if it had a huge gainer down the middle of the field. But strong safety Craig Steltz pummeled USC's Jared Cook, who had his hands on a Blake Mitchell pass inside the Tigers' 20 yard line. The ball came free and South Carolina was forced to punt.
After a few minutes on the Tiger Stadium turf, Cook gingerly made his way to the sideline.

Matt Flynn is back under center and the Tigers begin Saturday with a three-and-out. The Tigers chose to pass on every down. Flynn completed the first, but then overthrew a pair of receivers over the middle.

South Carolina's first three plays: No gain rush, incomplete pass, sack (-10 yards). Hmmm.

LSU will make its fans happy. Another blowout, sorry fans, bleauxout.

The Tigers will play defense first this afternoon. South Carolina will get a look at one of the best defensive unit LSU has ever produced.

Immediately following the deluge at Tiger Stadium (it's over now), a huge chuck of turn was replaced in the South Endzone. Groundskeepers worked feverishly to replace the sod with a piece from the sidelines. When all was said and done, the purple topping was even applied.
It's hard for me to believe a 5-foot piece of sod can be replaced and be safe minutes before kickoff, but we'll see.


The rain -- at least the rough stuff -- appears to have stayed away and kickoff is just 90 minutes away. The LSU Tigers will host the South Carolina Gamecocks in a pivotal SEC contest this afternoon.

Just got back from tailgaiting Stadium-side. Adam Young, an LSU alum and former LSU golfer David Toms' manager, was gracious with the invitation. His triplets, all decked out in different LSU cheerleading outfits, appeared to enjoy themselves.

Coming in a few ... predictions.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This whole USC thing

I get my copy of The Sporting News this week and there's a big story on USC beating Nebraska. That's understandable. It was the biggest game of the week last week.

But then there's a pullout breaking down USC and LSU.

The magazine gives USC the edge in offensive line, offensive backfield, linebackers, the secondary and coaching. LSU gets the edge in receiver, defensive line and special teams.The bottome line: USC wins.

And of course, one week after LSU was No. 1, USC jumps back to No. 1.

Why LSU fans hate USC is pretty well documented. Not so well-documented is the media fascination with USC.

So here goes:

1) USC plays in a major media market that is void of pro football. The Trojans are the big story in L.A.

2) USC has a great tradition. It's a tradition that those of us over 40 grew up with and one that rivals any in the country.

3) USC plays an attractive schedule. Let's face it, games like the one at Nebraska make you sit up and take notice. Even though Notre Dame is terrible this season, it's still a game with Notre Dame.

4) USC has enjoyed great success in recent years and it's always easier to predict on what someone has done as opposed to what someone is going to do.

So there are the reasons for the ESPN/National media fascination with the Trojans.

LSU fans need not get up in arms. It's just the way it is. If LSU has a five or six-year run in the top five the same national media love will come its way.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Revisionist history

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops apparently can't get over losing to LSU in the title game for the 2003 season.

Check out what Stoops is saying now at ESPN's web site.

And give Nick Saban credit for disputing Stoops' assertions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Les talk

So we couldn't go a whole week without mentioning one of Louisiana's all-time favorite pastimes -- LSU coach searching.

It seems that the folks at The Sporting News think Les Miles could be leaving for Michigan. And if Les leaves, then the magazine throws out a name that will likely make most LSU fans cringe.

In all seriousness, this doesn't appear to be a good year to be in the market for a head coach. Because, as the above story points out, there could be a lot of change in the SEC. And there are some coaches on the hot seat at other stops around the country as well.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Miles' injury philosophy hurting

BATON ROUGE - In the overall scheme of things during what looks very much like a national championship year, this does not matter very much.

But what's stupid is stupid. And here is another example of Lying State University.

LSU coach Les Miles' philosophy toward relaying injury information is very stupid. It's not completely his fault, though, because he is a football coach, and football coaches tend to see things in a very narrow way, which is one reason why many of them are very successful. But they often view changing their mind on something as a weakness instead of what it can often be as time goes by, which is smart.

This is where coaches need a little assistance or advice from their sports information staff or athletic department staff, which at major colleges like LSU are tremendously overstaffed but do have some very talented people.

These talented people at LSU are not doing their jobs in this area. Someone needs to tell Miles that his injury information policy is stupid and needs to be altered. If they have already tried, they need to try again.

For example, one of LSU's best football players - wide receiver Early Doucet - has a groin injury.

We know that because some of his teammates told us. We also talked to some other people outside of LSU that would know. Miles has talked at length about how Doucet got hurt freakishly in a non-contact drill on Friday. Yet he won't say or confirm what part of Doucet was injured.

I purposefully did not include Miles not confirming Doucet's groin injury in a story in Monday papers because I know it's a groin because players told me it was. Players are young and the young usually tell the truth more than people over 30. In addition, Miles is on record as saying he will be "evasive" with the truth concerning injuries for strategic purposes. (While a Michigan assistant, the Wolverines won a game because they knew a lot of injury information about the opponent. They probably would've won the game anyway, but he doesn't realize that.)

Miles is also on record as lying or being mistaken about his own players' injuries. He and the sports information staff have also changed injuries while that player was not practicing. In other words, I understand coaches and athletic department people have to lie at times, but at least lie with some efficiency. Get your stories straight. I understand coaches not wanting to be specific about an injury, because opponents may try to zero in on the injured area and hurt the player more. But I don't think that happens as much as coaches say. And players are trying to hurt all parts of players anyway.

Coaches mainly lie about injuries because they can and they like playing little games. Now they're trying to use HIPAA (Heatlth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) as a reason not to divulge injury information. HIPAA came about for the privacy of individuals concerning their health care and insurance, not for football coaches who think they're military leaders.

Therefore, Miles or his handlers confirming or not confirming an injury doesn't really matter because they've lost their credibility on injuries because of their stated "evasive" policy. That's why Miles' non-confirmation didn't make my story.

Coaches need to realize that most of the time - like this time - the injury news is going to get out anyway. So they need to realize that they need to get out at the front of the information. That way they can control it, and coaches like control almost as much as winning. This is what the media savvy coaches do. This is what Miles needs to start doing. Now, Miles is leaving so many questions unanswered about injuries that he leaves his players and his players' contacts vulnerable to questions that he could have at least partly answered.

Miles' handling of Doucet's injury has caused more questions and rumors than if he had just said what it is. In this example, he has thus caused more pain for his player.

He did the same thing with quarterback Matt Flynn's ankle injury two weeks ago. Miles never said it was an ankle, which was ridiculous because any human with eyes could tell how Flynn was limping that it was his ankle. Trainers also were seen working on his ankle. Tape on his ankle was also seen, but Miles will not say it's his ankle. Unbelievable.

If Miles had been more forthright about Flynn's injury and playing status as most other coaches are, another reporter would not have called Flynn's father. This got Miles and his handlers very upset at the reporter. But Flynn's father didn't have to speak to the reporter. And he would never have been called if the football coach had a better injury policy.

If the football coach had a better injury policy, Early Doucet would not be under a cloud of mystery and rumor right now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two backs better than one

BATON ROUGE - LSU has been using multiple tailbacks so far in this young season with outstanding results, yet some fans are unhappy. Some media members are miffed. They want one dominant back and most want talented sophomore Keiland Williams of Lafayette to be the guy.

And they have a point. Williams is very good. The way he hurdled over players on his way to a 67-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech, then switched directions made one think of O.J. Simpson and airports (as opposed to murders ... allegedly).

Williams is fluid and fast. He looked like one of the great runners on that one because his body motion seemed so effortless. That run seemed to make fans almost forget about Joe McKnight going to USC over LSU. Williams (5-11, 223 pounds) may not be as fast as McKnight (5-11, 200), but he is thicker and bigger than him. It would be nice to have McKnight, too, but LSU is in very good shape at tailback. Williams probably is LSU's most talented back and will likely eventually get more carries than any other back for the Tigers. (McKnight, by the way, gained 26 yards on six carries in his first game.)

But for right now, LSU coach Les Miles likes the way he has it and that's with senior Jacob Hester as the starter. Hester leads the Tigers with 149 yards rushing on 26 carries. Williams has gained 144 yards on 14 carries, while Trindon Holliday has gained 58 yards on 10 carries. Don't forget Charles Scott, either. He has 28 yards on seven carries and has caught two passes for 22 yards with a touchdown. And Richard Murphy has 37 yards on eight carries. The way new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton moves player groupings in and out, he may keep nearly all of these guys happy.

Hester is not as fast as Williams, not as fluid and not quite as athletic. Hester is fast. His legs just don't take as long a stride. Hester also doesn't look as scary to opponents running down the field as does Williams. Miles knows all this, but Miles knows Hester is very good, too. I used to be a bit of an anti-Hester, but he proved me wrong last season. Hester runs extremely hard. He'll get that extra yard. He doesn't fumble. He's dependable. He's like Walt Garrison, the former Dallas Cowboy, with more speed and minus the Cowboy hat. In fact, Hester looks a little like Garrison.

Hester is also very good at catching passes.

Williams has not had a fumbling problem in games, but Miles just feels better with Hester handling most of the responsibility right now. Williams is just a sophomore. Hester is one of the team's strongest leaders.

If this is a problem, it's a good problem to have. But it's not a problem. You need to look at it like this. Hester is the steady starting pitcher without a 90 mph fastball. He's Greg Maddux. He just beats you. After a few series as the defenders are getting used to Hester, you throw the faster, more dynamic Williams in there.

This combination, regardless of who gets the most carries, could continue to be deadly for opponents.

Bad news for basketball

I got my first basketball preseason magzine in the mail today - Athlon's college basketball.

It doesn't look too good for the basketball Tigers. LSU is picked to finish fifth in the SEC West.

Afer last season's wipeout, I guess no one should be surprised. The Tigers' recruiting class was ranked fourth in the SEC. But apparently it will be OK to ignore basketball until after the bowl games if you're an LSU fan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where does Va. Tech victory rank?

It has been a long time since LSU has had a victory that slapped a nation in the face quite as sharply as the Tigers' 48-7 scrimmage Saturday that made No. 9 Virginia Tech look like scrum.

Was it the most impressive regular season win ever? It has an argument. It is by point differential against top 10 teams. But we have to wait and see how good or bad the Hokies end up being this season. If Tech ends up being a 5-7 team, that would take some of the luster off the victory. I don't see that happening, though. Frank Beamer is too good of a coach. Tech will gather itself and have a decent season. That defense is talented and will play better. It also probably cannot play any worse.

LSU has never defeated a top-10 opponent by 41 points, but it had a similar victory on Oct. 14, 1972, against Auburn in Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers, like this year, went into the 1972 season with serious national championship aspirations as Sports Illustrated put its preseason No. 1 label on LSU, which would be led by senior quarterback Bert Jones of Ruston and junior linebacker Warren Capone of Baton Rouge.

"Their chances for a national title have seldom seemed better," is said in the magazine.

The Tigers started the season ranked No. 9 by the Associated Press and moved up to No. 8 after easy wins over non-ranked Pacific, Texas A&M and Wisconsin and a 12-6 struggle at Rice.

Auburn, like Virginia Tech, was No. 9 in the nation entering Baton Rouge. It came in with a 4-0 record after beating Mississippi State an Tennessee-Chattanooga in close games, upsetting No. 4 Tennessee 10-6 in Birmingham and edging No. 18 Ole Miss 19-13. Tennessee and Ole Miss had the longest winning streaks in the nation at the time before running into Auburn coach Shug Jordan's forces.

Auburn would try to make it three in a row as LSU now had the nation's No. 1 winning streak at eight. Amazingly, the game was not on television, but these were the days when usually only one game was televised on a Saturday. I listened to it with my father in the patio and we both came away amazed at how easily the Tigers won, 35-7, behind three touchdowns passes by Jones.

LSU coach Charles McClendon won his 84th game, which made him No. 1 in school history in victories with 84. He finished with 137, which present coach Les Miles could break if he doesn't go to Michigan and stays here for about 15 years. He's 53 now with 24 victories. He'd still be in his 60s. He could do it.

LSU moved up just one spot, though, to No. 7 after the win. After wins over Kentucky and Ole Miss (17-16 in the infamous slow clock game), the Tigers went to 7-0 and to No. 6 going into a date at No. 2 and 8-0 Alabama. The Tide ruined LSU's national championship hopes with a 35-21 victory, and LSU finished 9-3-1 with a 3-3 tie at Florida and 24-17 loss to Tennesee in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.

Auburn never lost again after leaving Baton Rouge, finishing 10-1 with a 24-3 win over Colorado in the Gator Bowl.

Here's a prediction. Virginia Tech won't end up as well as the 1972 Auburn team, but LSU will win more than 10 and do better than a Houston bowl.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Flynn needs to play

BATON ROUGE - Quarterback Matt Flynn has a bad right ankle this week. He was noticeably limping during the second half of the Tigers' 48-7 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday. He missed practice Monday to give the ankle a day off. He probably wore that protective and supportive boot the players wear now for foot and ankle injuries. He is expected to practice today and meet with reporters tonight.

LSU coach Les Miles has said the injury is not of any significant concern, but Miles has often lied about injuries as coaches often do. Miles is a little more evasive with the truth about injuries than most coaches, though.

There is a school of thought that says Miles should sit Flynn this week against Middle Tennessee, which did lose to Florida Atlantic, so he will not aggravate the injury more and thus be closer to 100 percent for the Sept. 22 home game against South Carolina and Steve Spurrier.

This makes sense, but moreso for a seasoned veteran quarterback.

As good as Flynn has looked in his two starts this season, he is still very much a work in progress. He needs this Middle Tennessee game to sharpen himself for South Carolina. He doesn't need anything but the minimum amount of time on his feet between now and then.

Flynn also knows he needs to play. He saw what Ryan Perrilloux can do.

Suddenly the people calling for Perrilloux to be kicked off the team are quiet in recent months are quiet. It was mop-up duty, but Perrilloux looks very good, natural and fluid. He knows how to fake like he's running, then throw, very well, too. It would be fun to watch Perrilloux start and play the whole game Saturday.

But Flynn is on a one-year mission, and he needs, wants and craves every snap available. This is why he kept playing against Virginia Tech. His ankle may not be great Saturday and he may sit out some of the second half, but you can count on him starting.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Oh by the way

Lost in the euphoria of a beatdown of Virginia Tech and anxiousness of possibly losing a coach, LSU fans might want to remember -- there is a game this week.

Middle Tennessee sounds like a pushover. Anytime you have a direction in front of your name it's not a good thing.

But Middle Tennessee gave Louisville a much better game last week than many people thought.

Now, that being said, no one in the 504, 225, 318 or 337 area codes thinks LSU could lose Saturday. But it's Les Miles' job to keep his players focused on Middle Tennessee and not all of the outside stuff.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Unlikely support

A year ago, Urban Meyer successfully campaigned for his Florida Gators to play in the national title game, which the Gators won easily over Ohio State.

Today, Meyer gives his seal of approval to the LSU Tigers in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pass the crow


Double oops.

I am truly sorry for picking Virginia Tech to beat LSU Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. I have eaten crow before. I thought Aaron Brooks was good. I have learned with a little Tabasco, it's not bad.

I picked LSU to lose one game this season, and I thought this one would be it. I was wrong big time. I did not do it to be different. I really thought it would be a close game. If it's a close game, anything can happen.

Oh, well.

Not to make up for this indiscretion, but because it is deserving I will vote LSU No. 1 in the nation in the Associated Press poll on Sunday. I had the Tigers fifth.

We do not know how good Virginia Tech is. It might end up being a bad team, but that doesn't matter. LSU has clearly been the most impressive team in the nation so far. And the rest of the nation's voters should realize that as well.

The Tigers beat the dog out of a top 10 team. Look out, it's going to be that kind of year.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Point spread way too large

BATON ROUGE - LSU is a 12-point favorite to beat Virginia Tech on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. I'm thinking about changing my original pick, which was a 13-9 LSU loss two weeks ago. But that's too many points.

The oddsmakers are overreacting to what LSU and Virginia Tech did last week. LSU rolled to a 45-0 win over a bad Mississippi State team that might not win three games this season. Virginia Tech, fighting a lot of emotion in its first game back from the massacre that took place last spring on its campus, struggled at times in a 17-7 win over East Carolina.

East Carolina, which went 7-6 last season, is a much better team than State. Virginia Tech will have a much lighter mental load going into this game, having its first, post-tragedy game in the books. It will likely be looser outside of its stadium as well. It will have less to lose as well as the No. 9 team playing the No. 2 team in Tiger Stadium.

LSU quarterback Matt Flynn was sacked three times at State, which does not have nearly the defense Tech does. This will be a low scoring game. This will be a close game.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Board talk from Blacksburg

Maybe Virginia Tech sophomore right guard Sergio Render is tired of hearing so much about LSU All-American Glenn Dorsey. When asked about meeting Dorsey in Saturday's 8:20 p.m. game in Tiger Stadium, Render had this to say:

"I'm not going to back down," the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Render told the Roanoke Times. "Both of us put on pants the same way. I feel like if I can get my hands on him, I can put him on the ground. Anybody can be pancaked. And I'm going to try my best to make sure that happens this Saturday."

Render may have to put his pants on at another position, however, for such a meeting. Dorsey played right defensive tackle against Mississippi State last week with Charles Alexander moving to left tackle, where Dorsey played last season. They do at times switch off, though.

Render, a product of Newnan High in Georgia, started last season at right guard as a true freshman and was named a first team freshman All-American by Scout.com. He also made The Sporting News' all-freshmen Atlantic Coast Conference team. He will have Dorsey outweighed as Dorsey weighs just 299 pounds. Render recored 37 knockdown blocks last season. Dorsey made 64 tackles last season with 8.5 behind the line.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Miles should look at Michigan

BATON ROUGE - Mere moments after Appalachian State's upset of Michigan on Saturday, there was talk on radio shows about LSU coach Les Miles possibly replacing Lloyd Carr as Michigan's coach after this season.

It is very early, but it could happen. Carr's popularity was not the greatest at Michigan even before what some are calling the biggest upset in college football history.

Carr is 62. He is in his 13th year at Michigan. He could be getting tired of it. He certainly didn't appear to have a lot of fire about him following the game. He also said his team was not "prepared," which is a synonym for "coached."

There has been talk for some time that Carr was about to step down anyway, and he would likely land a cush job in the athletic department or with the university like former Auburn coach Pat Dye did.

There are only two current Division I-A coaches who played at Michigan - Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and Miles. There is only one Division I-A coach who played at Michigan and coached at Michigan twice. That is Miles, who played under Schembechler in the mid-1970s, coached under Schembechler in the 1980s and coached under Gary Moeller, who followed Schembechler, in the 1990s.

Harbaugh, 43, is a well-known former Michigan quarterback for coach Bo Schembechler and a former NFL quarterback who looks the part of a rising, young coach. He's already in his second head coaching job, though he is only his sixth year as a full-time coach. He was previously the head coach at the University of San Diego and an assistant for the Oakland Raiders.

But Harbaugh made some disparaging remarks over the summer about Michigan and how its able to get questionable recruits in school and keep them there via easier majors. These comments were true, and they would be accurate in describing most major schools, including LSU. But that's not the point. Harbaugh drew the ire of Michigan faithful. Angry fans don't care what the facts are. Just ask Nick Saban.

Miles, 53, also played for Schembechler and is in much better graces with the Michigan faithful. He stayed relatively close to Schembechler, frequently calling him during recent seasons. He went to Schembechler's funeral during the game week of the Arkansas game last season. He derives a lot of his coaching philosophy from Schembechler, particularly his team discipline.

It would mean a lot to Miles to be the coach at Michigan. He still keeps close to the program. His secondary coach, Doug Mallory, played at Michigan. Miles always speaks fondly of Michigan.

Miles would be a natural interview for the job should it open. He won relatively big at a suffering program at Oklahoma State and he's kept a great program at LSU winning. He should be coming off a great season this year. He should be a hot candidate, even though he is not thought of nationally as a great coach yet.

An interview doesn't mean Miles would definitely leave LSU for Michigan. Miles has it pretty good at LSU. He is immensely popular. People no longer focus on how much Miles inherited from former coach Nick Saban because they're so focused on hating Nick Saban. Miles doesn't have to worry about the shadow because the shadow is the devil in these parts. Fans and media like Miles so much they lie for him and apologize for him when he messes up, such as in the "f-ing Alabama," episode.

Miles has shown the ability to hire coaches and recruit players that could keep LSU at the top. He could win the national championship here this season and still have a very good team next season. That's a lot to walk away from.

Miles should definitely look at the Michigan job should it open, and fans shouldn't persecute him for that. He also should be allowed to interview. It is a free country. Anyone can leave any job for another one. It's still very early, but be prepared. It could happen.

Monday, September 03, 2007

LSU doesn't need this game

BATON ROUGE - Games like this one on Saturday night between No. 2 LSU and current No. 9 Virginia Tech on ESPN is why college football is so great. Both are top 10 teams. It will be the first top-10 matchup in Tiger Stadium not involving two SEC teams since 1987 when No. 4 LSU and No. 7 Ohio State tied 13-13 on CBS. It is a matchup of two teams that rarely play.

The Tigers and the Hokies have played only once before with Virginia Tech ripping LSU 26-8 on Sept. 1, 2002. The nation will be watching as this will be the first top 10 pairing of the season and will kick off in prime time at about 8:20 p.m., which serves as a throwback to the old Tiger Stadium kickoff time of 8.

It is one of the most attractive games on the national schedule all season.

LSU needs to win it, but it doesn't need the game. LSU is already No. 2. If the Tigers were playing LSU-Shreveport Saturday and won out against the likes of Florida on Oct. 6 and Auburn on Oct. 20 and all the others, it would still be No. 2 and playing for the BCS national championship.

Now, Virginia Tech needs it. Because a win at LSU would propel it into the national championship hunt. LSU's already in the blind. This is one year in which LSU doesn't need a game like this. LSU coach Les Miles didn't want to get into that conversation on Monday, but earlier this summer he said this is not a game he would schedule because he's already playing Florida, which is No. 6, and Auburn, which is No. 18.

Miles did not schedule this game by the way. Former LSU coach Nick Saban did. Saban lost the first one 26-8 to open his season in 2002. Virginia Tech was supposed to return the game in 2004, but it got out of it because of a late scheduling of USC. So the game was moved to 2007.

LSU could lose Saturday and still have enough time over a season to get back in the BCS title game if it wins out. That has happened before, but other teams have to lose. LSU controls its destiny as the No. 2 team - win out and play in New Orleans.

But just think if LSU loses to Virginia Tech and wins out but doesn't make the BCS title game in New Orleans because two other teams are undefeated. I guess you could blame Nick Saban.