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Friday, September 11, 2009

MAIL CALL! Answering Your Blog Commentary

BATON ROUGE - It's Friday and time to answer the week's comments from previous blogs.

TO "LAEXPAT," who suggested I dropped LSU in my Associated Press rankings because coach Les Miles closed practice this season. Nothing could be more wrong. I and other reporters were actually happy that Miles closed practices because we never got much out of those anyway, and it was a waste of time. Now, I have more time to write and blog and chat and tweet with you wonderful folks.

Even when I went to or short window of practice when it was open, I would talk to some of the people with the program who were at practice for the duration to find out what was really going on, and I still do that. So little has changed. There is less injury information, but we reporters tend to write too much about injuries anyway. Not because we want to help the other team, but because an injury update is an easy, ready-made notebook item, which is what we are always looking for.

I did keep LSU below two teams that lost - Virginia Tech and Oklahoma - because those teams lost to highly ranked teams but still played well. It's not always if you win or lose in rankings, it's the team you beat or lose to and how you won or lost.

LSU looked average against what I feel will be a bad team this season. Washington, 0-12 last season, will not be better than 4-8. Don't believe all the spin you're hearing. UW is not that good. Iowa did struggle with Northern Iowa as well but it still won, and I dropped Iowa five spots to 24. I dropped LSU only one spot to 14.

TO "KATSUMOTO," who did not like my assertion that LSU has been complaining too much about the travel. It was not nearly as difficult a trip as the LSU spin surgeons - particularly Miles - would have you believe. The players are all very young and such a trip does not affect them.

They got there on Thursday for cryinig out loud. What WAS a tough trip was what LSU made Tennessee do in 2005. The Vols had to fly in, play and fly out on the same day because of a lack of hotel space in the wake of the hurricanes. Meanwhile, LSU didn't give up its hotel rooms even though its players could have stayed in dorms.

Also, I do not want to cover Alabama. Just because I think Nick Saban is a great coach does not mean I want to cover him. He can be tough to cover. You never know his mood. But half the time he's yelling at reporters, he's just making a point. And Saban answers questions much better than most coaches, particularly Miles, who speaks in riddles and says crazy things half the time.

But Miles is very easy to cover because he basically has no temper and is not moody. He's also fun to talk to. It's trying to figure out what he's saying that is tough. Sometimes he's being silly on purpose. Sometimes he doesn't know what he's saying. Sometimes nobody knows, including him.

As far as Saban's "loyalty," the only time he has been disloyal in his career is when and how he left Miami. Every other move has been normal, coaching upward mobility. Saban has moved around no more than many, many coaches. He was at Michigan State for five years, LSU for five years and will be at Alabama many, many years.

TO "CALVINIST," who still thinks Michigan is an elite program. Dude, you're like Notre Dame fans. It's over. Your program is nothing like it used to be, and coaches who are not tied to that place no longer see it as a destination job. It's just another very good major program. LSU is a much better job. Miles would only go to Michigan because he has strong ties there, and if it pays him and his staff more money.

TO "WHYDAHATIN," who said Miles doesn't care about the money. He does. He's smart. He has an economics degree, not a P.E. degree like most coaches. Had Michigan offered more money for his staff in 2007, Miles may have thought about it a second longer.

TO "ANONYMOUS," who said LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton needs to mix it up more. First of all, why don't you sign your name or code? And secondly, Crowton mixed it up expertly and called a superb game at UW. But you are not alone. Fans and media alike have been criticizing LSU's offense this week. None of you get it.

It was passing like a Big 12 team last year that got LSU in so much trouble with Jarrett Lee and all his interceptions. If he throws it 19 times (which is how many times Jordan Jefferson threw it against Washington) in the Alabama game last season instead of 34 times, LSU wins. Because LSU played good defense that day, ran the ball well and didn't get behind early. Yet Crowton and Miles kept passing Lee like he was in the Big 12 even though he entered that game with obvious interception issues.

Crowton and Miles were conservative against Washington because they want to bring Jefferson around slowly and not just plug him in as they did with Lee, thinking he'd automatically be as good as JaMarcus Russell. And it's OK to be conservative when it's working and when it lulls the opponent to sleep so you can strike. This is precisely what Crowton did.

LSU ran 29 times and passed just 19 times against Washington, but it averaged 5.1 yards a rush.

IT WAS WORKING. Jefferson's 11 completions averaged 15.6 yards. This is mixing it up expertly, which is better than evenly. Yes, LSU ran a lot on first down - 16 times to be exact. But it gained 116 yards on those carries for a 7.2-yard average. You don't get away from that because it's not cool. These runs also set up excellent passing opportunities on first and second down. The 45-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Terrance Toliver happened on a second-and-10 play, not a typical passing situation. The 39-yard touchdown pass to Toliver happened on first-and-five play, which would be a running play for a conservative play caller. Crowton is not a conservative play caller.

On LSU's last and best drive of the night, Crowton was a magician. A 7-yard run by Keiland Williams set up a second-and-3 play. Did Crowton choose to run some more clock to finish off the game? No, on a sure running situation, particularly seeing the time of the game, Crowton called a pass and caught Washington off guard. Jefferson hit Toliver for 25 yards to set up the clinching touchdown, which was also on a pass to Brandon LaFell.

Considering LSU had only 48 plays (lowest since 1965) because its defense played so poorly, the offense was very good. It scored 24 offensive points, which comes out to a point every other play. It averaged 6.6 yards a play. Crowton called a great game. He set the tempo.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott up the middle is not mixing it up, but you're right, it may set up the passing game. Subtract his 21 yard run, and Scott rushed 11 times for 31 yards, less than 3 yards/ carry. That ain't stellar, Glenbeau. Neither is 52 yards in a game for a 1,000 yard rusher.

The point is - Sarkisian had LSU's defense guessing by mixing it up.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, you don't get it. Yes, the run sets up the pass, but the pass sets up the run. Jefferson is not Lee, thank goodness! He has big horses at WR. Let him throw to them. Be positive, not negative, man. He's not going to make the same mistake Lee did, i.e. pick 6s.

7:01 PM  

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