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Friday, November 26, 2010

Arkansas' Petrino braces to face Wild Hog of a coach in Miracle Miles

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – There is an often used baseball term that may best describe LSU football coach Les Miles. It is “effectively wild” with Miles being the pitcher and the opposing coach the hitter.

Imagine yourself coaching against the Mad Hatter. You have studied film. You have prepared your team in the conventional way with practice and repetition. You've gone against the best. You've been an NFL coach for crying out loud. But today you’re going against a coach who makes the unconventional conventional in more ways than head-hat placement. You're going against Les Miles - college football's Don Quixote with a flip card.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino steps into the box today at 2:30 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium for a CBS game with a BCS bowl on the line and possibly – if you believe in the Miracle Miles – a continuation of a windmill-like quest for an unlikely BCS title game by LSU. But then, these things have happened before.

Petrino has been the hot offensive coordinator at Auburn and the hot head coach at Louisville with NFL ties. He was a head coach briefly at Atlanta before escaping to Arkansas, leaving little but a note. He is considered an offensive genius. But none of that matters today. Because when he looks across the field, he will see Les Miles, who is not a genius and often out of control.

Miles eats grass before huge plays. That’s what Alabama’s Nick Saban – the defensive version of Petrino with more skins on the wall - saw if he glanced across the field before that fourth-and-one play in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 6. Then he saw a double-pitch reverse to the tight end probably for the first time in his life, and it beat him.

“Gotcha,” Miles may have said as he may have said after beating Steve Spurrier, another genius who revolutionized the SEC with passing in the 1990s before failing in the NFL, with a holder-to-kicker flip fake field goal in 2007. Three years later, Miles called the same play against spread mastermind Urban Meyer, in The Swamp. Only this time he mixed it up a bit with a confused timeout and a bounce pass, and Meyer is still shaking his brainiac head.

Miles also is known to take a big chug of water before big plays. If Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, a disciple of Saban and son of Vince, looked straight ahead before the last play of his game (or the first of two "last" plays) with LSU last month, this is what he saw - Miles kicking his head back and squirting a big swallow into his pie hole. It was only fourth-and-goal from the 1 with no time left after one of the worst conceived last-second plays in LSU history. And LSU scored for the win. Your dad told you there’d be days like that, Derek, but not coaches like that.

Needless to say, Petrino has been holding his own Miles Marathon this week. Call it the Field Whisperer Film Festival.

“Yeah, we always have to spend time with their trick plays and special teams, the fakes and everything they do,” Petrino said. “We keep a file on it, and we have to bring it out.”

The temptation is for opposing coaches to try this stuff at home. This is a dangerous game. That’s the thing about Miles. What fits the Mad Hatter does not necessarily fit anyone else. It’s an acquired taste – like grass. Brainiacs need not apply.

“We used one (the fake field goal), and it didn’t work at all against Texas A&M,” Petrino said. “Maybe we should have kept that file in the closet.”

Careful in that batter’s box today, Bobby. Miles outs himself just about every Saturday. You never know what’s coming.

Here are five things to look for in today’s LSU-Arkansas game.

1.BLITZING – LSU’s defense loves to play a pocket quarterback like Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. LSU got three sacks against Alabama’s traditional Greg McElroy. Look for that many or more today.

2.SCORING – Arkansas is No. 2 in the SEC in points scored with 37.9 a game and No. 7 in points allowed with 22.7. LSU has scored 84 in its last two games. Sure, one of those opponents was Louisiana-Monroe, but still LSU has not put up that many in back-to-back games since 2007 with 89 in a 41-24 win at Ole Miss and a 50-48 loss in triple overtime to Arkansas.

3.FIRST DOWN PASSES – Since the second half against Alabama, LSU has thrown on first down more than at any point under quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Look for the aggression to continue today as the Tigers continue to climb the offensive charts - 11th in the SEC and 108th in the nation in passing.

4.RUNNING HOGS – Mallett is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, but tailback Knile Davis is third in the SEC with 1,031 yards on 148 carries.

5.JOSH JASPER – This one could come down to a field goal like it did last year with the LSU kicker making a 41-yarder with four seconds to play to send it to overtime and a 36-yarder to win it. No one in the country has more field goals than Jasper, who is 23 of 27 on the season. He is also one of the best pooch punters in the game and runs like a tailback. After a ridiculous snub by the Groza Award people, Jasper may be ready to kick some Hog.

PREDICTION: Jasper kicks LSU into the Sugar Bowl with a 50-yard field goal with :02 remaining for a 31-28 win. Miles goes Hog wild.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I see your point...Les Miles is a different kind, of college football coach..Not a precise coach, at all...Nothing from a book,How can you get ready, for someone like Les Miles...Answer,"you can't".
Anything can happen...And guess what:
It does.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guilbeau was drinking the kool-aid like other LSU fans, thinking LSU was going to finish 11-1 and go to the Sugar Bowl. Some fool even said last week that Arkansas was overrated. Has he watched them play? What does he think now?

Guilbeau was right - it came down to FGs ... but it was LSU making FGs instead of TDs. And why didn't LSU play a prevent defense at the end of the 1st half? Did they think Mallett was going to take a knee?

This was a winnable game, and LSU gave it away.

4:39 PM  

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