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Mike Norvell beats LSU with Les Miles clock management skills

Two teams tried to give a game away, and one finally did.

Florida State v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In case you missed it, last night’s LSU vs FSU game was quite entertaining. To be clear, I didn’t say that it was good football. In fact, it was more a comedy of errors than anything else, but entertaining it was.

Florida State opened the game with a blown assignment on edge contain to let LSU QB Jaeden Daniels scamper free 25 yards down the sideline, then added 15 yards with a stupid personal foul penalty. The Bayou Bengals would kick a field goal there...and then wouldn’t score another point until the last play of the third quarter. That offense looked about as dysfunctional as a college offense can look.

To make matters worse, LSU freshman Malik Nabers muffed two punts deep in his own territory, one with a couple minutes left in the first half and the other with a couple minutes left in the game. Florida State simply couldn’t allow LSU to hand them a win, however.

On the first one Mike Norvell, the FSU head coach who doesn’t let his offensive coordinator call plays, opted for a fade on 4th and 2 from the 7 yard line with a minute left in the half. It failed and he was roasted at halftime for not kicking the field goal. I actually liked the decision to go for it, but the goal line fade is just about the lowest percentage play you can call in that situation. Plus they only needed two yards!

In any case, Florida State led 7-3 after a hilariously inept half of football by both teams. Brian Kelly said it best.

Kelly looked befuddled for much of the game, almost like a fish out of water.

Florida State mostly controlled the second half, but LSU made a game of it late. With the ‘Noles leading 24-17, LSU forced a punt and Nabers muffed his second. This one should have been a backbreaker.

Shortly after this, I commented that FSU should merely take a knee and kick the field goal from point blank range to ice the game. Nope. Mike Norvell had to get six ways of stupid for a second time.

Why, Mike? Why would you pitch the ball when you have the game won? FSU then went into prevent mode, which is the correct play, and LSU managed to drive the field while burning most of the clock. With just a few seconds left, this catch by freshman TE Mason Taylor got the Tigers down close. Pay attention to Taylor’s left knee just before he hits the sideline.

Yep, he failed to get out of bounds. It was immediately obvious from the TV angle, but somehow the official standing five yards away didn’t see that knee hit. Had he called it correctly, LSU would have had to scramble to the line with no timeouts and get off a snap to run a play, not clock the ball, in one second’s time after the official put the ball in play.

Fortunately for LSU, he made the wrong call. It was overturned on replay, though for some strange reason it required FSU to challenge which one can only assume means that the replay official had dozed off. To Brian Kelly’s credit, he had his offense lined up over the ball and ready to snap it in a rush.

Norvell looked at the situation and realized the plight of his opponent. In what can only be deemed an act of sportsmanship he called time out, which took all of the pressure off of LSU to get the snap off. LSU subsequently scored a touchdown to pull within one. Then this happened:

The kid on the left side of the line who whiffed on the rusher? Yep, that’s Taylor, the same poor kid who failed to get out of bounds. Two true freshmen combined for four critical mistakes that should have had the game out of reach, but Mike Norvell’s utter incompetence nearly overcame them all.

It was an entertaining football game for sure, but it wasn’t pretty.