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Random Thoughts

You know the routine...

  • All in all, a major disappointing loss for the Crimson Tide. Obviously, LSU had a lot more talent and depth that we did, but nevertheless we led most of the game. We weathered the early storm, led at halftime, led by ten with a quarter left to play, and had a seven point lead with the football, near mid-field, with less than five minutes to play. We had this game won and just suffered a complete meltdown late.
  • LSU is a good team, but they are not great. Their talent is great, but the coaching is very suspect, and they consistently beat themselves with penalties, turnovers, and execution breakdowns. It's really hard to believe these guys are 8-1 and currently the favorite to get to New Orleans, considering Alabama, Auburn, and Florida had them beat before giving them the game late. Though highly ranked, these guys haven't played good football since the South Carolina game, and if they hadn't had three games given to them, they'd be 5-4. These guys have to be massive overachievers in Pythagorean Wins.
  • The Alabama running game was absolutely non-existent. We turned to Lowe, and honestly I think the main reason was simply that we tried to use his speed and elusiveness because the coaching staff saw that whoever had the ball was not going to get any openings whatsoever. It was just very, very frustrating. LSU wouldn't even be playing the run and they shut it down easily.
  • Speaking of the running game, or lack thereof, we obviously have a lot of progress to make. We've got to get much better up front, and the backs have to play a lot better. Some of that, arguably, might not happen until we get in some new recruits. We have some decent backs, but none of them are that great -- sorry -- and the offensive line was just manhandled today. The only lineman we had that held his own today was Andre Smith. The rest spent most of the day as little more than glorified blocking dummies for the LSU defensive line.
  • As much as we struggled up front, though, our wide receivers did pretty well against the LSU secondary. They got open and made some very big plays. The problem was that we struggled up front so much that we could not get the ball down the field like we needed to.
  • Not trying to toot my own horn here, but as I expected, Dorsey played and he was essentially 100 per cent. He moved very well and honestly just showed no ill effects from the knee sprain. As I said earlier in the week, that was just all a bunch of hoopla that had no effect on the game. There really was no legitimate doubt about whether or not he was going to play.
  • Speaking of Dorsey, he was one of five players who went down with an "injury." Glenn Dorsey, Darry Beckwith, Herman Johnson, Matt Flynn, and Andre Smith all went down with "injuries." Not a single one missed more than two plays with their "injury." Sorry, but you're either injured or not. You don't blow out a knee / break a leg and suddenly be fine 49 seconds later. If you're truly hurt, fine, but don't just lay on the field holding up the game every time you scratch up your knees. I don't mean to be insensitive to legitimate injuries, but these are obviously nothing serious. This is football, not an overly dramatic soap opera.
  • Our defense, as a whole, played fairly well. They gave up a lot of yards, but they did generate three turnovers, had two more taken away from the Replay Gods, and overall kept us in this game. Those guys were definitely down on talent, but they played pretty well.
  • Simeon Castille was the one who really killed us late on defense. With a ten point lead, he gives up a long touchdown pass where he was easily beaten by Byrd. And that's the last thing in the world you would want there. If they score, that's fine, but at least make them march down the field and take four-to-six minutes off the clock. The last thing you want to do is allow them to make it a three point game in a mere ten seconds. Castille's blown coverage there was really a major changing point in the game.
  • Kareem Jackson is our best defensive back. Oh sure, when Castille graduates after this season many will talk about how much it will hurt to lose our top corner, but our top cornerback is Kareem Jackson, end of story. And you can see it just from watching game film, he's almost always lined up against the opposing team's primary receiver. Oh, and after Castille was burned by Byrd, guess who was over Byrd the following possession? Kareem Jackson.
  • Going back to the offense for a moment, Wilson has eventually got to get the ball out on hot routes. We protected him fairly well for the most part, but he was hanging onto the football entirely too long, and you can't blame the protection. The truth is that LSU was choosing to blitz big-time, and when they do that you must throw the football quickly. If the opposing team brings heavy pressure, you're going to have to throw it quickly and that's even if you have an NFL Hall of Fame line. Wilson, unfortunately, all too often didn't do that, and it resulted in a lot of negative plays for us. We've got great skill players on the outside, and there is simply no excuse not to get them the football when the opposing team brings so much pressure.
  • Wilson's two turnovers really hurt us. The first was just a terrible decision to throw into double coverage, and the second was just him trying to make a schoolyard play. Both combined to give LSU fourteen easy points, and that was really what doomed us. And unfortunately, it's just a sign that Wilson continues to beat us with dumb turnovers. He did the same thing against Florida State, and that was a major problem on several occasions last year. At some point, that must cease. You can't beat teams like LSU when you are beating yourself with turnovers deep in your own end.
  • The officiating was... gah. I don't think any single team has suffered from officiating more in a game against a particular team than we have against LSU the past four years. We all remember the assault on Keith Brown in the end zone in 2004, the bad officiating in 2005, and yesterday we got two turnovers in the second half in LSU territory, and a first and ten inside the LSU 20 reversed. The initial Arenas interception, I think, was the right call, but I'll never be convinced on the "fumble" or the "incompletion." The only overturned play that went our way all day was the LSU incompletion where the ball clearly hit the ground, and honestly it was a joke that thing was called a completion in the first place. The Caddell catch, in particular, happened right in front of us, and he got it. I didn't get very excited though, and explained that they were just going to review it and call it incomplete anyway. Three minutes later, big shock, it was overturned. If we can just get one of those calls upheld, and at least two of them should have been, we win. Considering the officiating crews have given us the shaft in three of the past four years, I think we're just going to have to come to terms with the fact that if we are to beat these guys, we are going to have to beat the refs too.
  • You talk in football about the "hidden" yards, and chief among those come on special teams. And with that said, punting the football was a major problem for us yesterday. Fitzgerald averaged 33 yards per punt, and LSU responded with a 46 yard average. Long story short, they gained 13 yards every time we swapped punts, and in the aggregate, that's huge. And it wasn't a bad day from Fitzgerald, the harsh truth is that he's just not that good. The punting position is one where we desperately need an upgrade, as it just doesn't look like Fitzgerald is ever going to become even an average punter.
  • All in all, heartbreaking as it was, it's hard to complain too much. We played a better team and really had it won after leading almost all afternoon. We're 6-3, and honestly we have a shot at winning out and finishing up 9-3. If we do that, we probably head to the Cotton Bowl, and it's just a bright outlook all the way around. It hurts now that we've lost five straight to a team we've historically dominated -- make that five straight to two teams we've historically dominating -- but there is nothing we can do about it. Hopefully year two will bring a much different result given all that LSU will lose this off-season and all that we will return.