LSU 33 ... Florida 29
Urban Meyer and his staff coached their tails off.
The game might have been at home, and Florida might still be Florida, with as much talent across the board as anyone in America, but several key parts were hurt, the receivers weren’t scaring anyone, and drive after drive was a piece of artistry, setting up the LSU defense for the big play just when the Gators needed it the most.
And Les Miles and Gary Crowton were better.
Alright, so if the flip goes two inches to the right I’m probably writing about what a bonehead Miles is, but after the nightmare of a week, or at least as much of nightmare as there could be following a win, he had his team execute the time management aspect perfectly. He made the right call on keeping Jarrett Lee in at the goal line, he made the right call to go to Terrence Toliver on two straight plays against a Gator secondary that couldn’t tackle/maul/stop him, and he came up with the ten-pound cajones call of going with the flip-fake on the late field goal attempt. Meyer and the Gator defense should’ve been ready for the fake rather than sell out on a 50+ yard attempt, and they got pantsed by the supposedly goofy, inept Miles.
It was Florida who committed the 11 penalties, while LSU was flagged just six times. It was LSU who converted on both of its fourth down chances, threw for 224 yards after doing absolutely nothing all season long through the air, and came up with the big drive needed late against a defense that didn’t have any issues. You are what your record is, and this year, Miles is 1-0 against Meyer. The genius is in being 6-0 (and 7-0 with McNeese State next week), no matter how you get there.
It’s the SEC. It’s a cliché, but it is. All that matters is to get the win, and then move on, and LSU did that against Tennessee, and it did that against the Gators in The Swamp. Meanwhile, Alabama lost to South Carolina and is now looking up at Miles and the Tigers in the standings.
LSU isn’t going to finish unbeaten, there are still road trips at Auburn and Arkansas along with home dates against Bama and Ole Miss to deal with, but for now, and for this week, all is right in Baton Rouge, because Miles coached a damn strong football game.
Who’s laughing at Les Miles now?
Yeah, he’s a little goofy and a lot haphazard at the tail end of games, but the LSU coach just keeps finding a way to get it done. Although it’s hardly been crisp or a thing of beauty in 2010, the Tigers just continue to persevere, standing alongside Auburn as the last two remaining unbeaten teams in the SEC. The fake field goal toward the end of the fourth quarter? Vintage Miles. What other coach has the guts to approve that call a week after he was vilified nationally for poor clock management at the end of the Tennessee fiasco? The guy obviously doesn’t listen to his detractors or worry much about his job security, a degree of confidence that clearly rubs off on his players. Say what you will about Miles, but don’t ever say that he’s bad for the game. The coach is a walking cliffhanger, who brings a refreshing, sometimes zany, approach to college football. Too bad there weren’t a handful more like him.
As far as Florida goes, has it done anything to impress you this season? I’m still waiting. The offense remains hit-or-miss, and the defense failed to shut the Tigers down when the outcome hung in the balance. Jarrett Lee’s two touchdown passes were LSU’s first two since the opener with North Carolina over a month ago. While Miles has been the butt of so many jokes this season, shouldn’t Urban Meyer be feeling his share of abuse by now? Spare us any chatter about replacing a legendary quarterback. There’s way too much talent in Gainesville for the Gators to be this mediocre, week after week. Meyer and his staff have simply done an awful job preparing their kids for this season.
By Matt Zemek
There are no words. Really, you can’t make this stuff up. Why even try to capture the LSU coaching career of Les Miles with the written word? The English language is inadequate when confronted with the lived-out reality of the Miles years in Baton Rouge. Almost every week (the ones against Vanderbilt or the occasional cupcake excluded) brings a close game, a spectacular game-management gaffe, a misstep by an opponent, and just enough put-it-together gumption by his players to push Miles into the winner’s circle, often despite his impoverished thought process. It’s insane – literally.
Why did Miles let all that time run down before staging his fake field goal? Why didn’t he just go for it the regular way on fourth-and-three? The LSU coach was setting himself up for another Anna Karenina-style disaster. The game-management flunkie is always expected to mess up, and he unceasingly manages to live down to those expectations. However, Miles consistently manages to get help from outside sources who save The Hat from himself. Tonight, that source was the last man you’d have anticipated: the coach who has won two national titles in the past four and a half seasons.
Indeed, Urban Meyer – who should know better and who prides himself on good, alert special-teams play – didn’t have his field-goal defense unit ready to guard against a fake. You let LSU kick a 52-yard field goal with a big, fat smile in such a situation; with 35 seconds still on the clock, there was indeed time and space for LSU to fake the kick. Had the field-goal attempt occurred with three seconds left in the game, it would have been appropriate to try to block the kick, but not so with 35 seconds left; not with Miles willing to put his fate in the hands of a blind over-the-shoulder flip from his holder, instead of a fleet-footed running back or wide receiver on a simple swing pass. Meyer gave Miles an open door to walk through, and the luckiest coach in college football didn’t turn down the invitation. What else is there to say?
What’s going to happen in the weeks to come? Why try to speculate? Just know that you’ll need either a seat belt, a stomach that’s not digesting too much food, a handy yoga pose, or something else you rely on to calm yourself in the midst of pulse-pounding chaos. This is the world of Les Miles. This is what we expect, and this is what we so regularly receive. Just stand back, mouth agape, and shake your head in amazement.