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5 Thoughts - Ryan Perri-Who?
LSU QB Jarrett Lee
Why USC has to win and win big, in praise of the LSU coaching staff, dogging the Florida State situation, and the new SEC quarterback star in this week's 5 Thoughts.
5 Thoughts ... Sept. 22
But the team gets
extra style points for the cheerleaders
I don’t mean to pile on the poor Pac 10, but it's
becoming more important than ever to realize just how
much this league has clunked after Arizona State got run
over by Georgia and with Oregon losing at home to Boise
State. I know that Oregon was down to throwing the No. 2
sousaphone player at quarterback, but that doesn’t
excuse a lousy day from the secondary.
The bad play of the Pac 10 really wouldn't matter all
that much except for one thing: the No. 1 team in the
land plays in the league.
Now, every Pac 10 team but USC has a non-conference
loss. The Big Ten still has four unbeaten teams, and
before you scoff, Wisconsin won at Fresno State, when
Oregon couldn’t beat a WAC team at home, and Penn State
throttled Oregon State. The Big 12 has seven unbeaten
teams. The Big East has two, and the Mountain West,
a.k.a. the Pac 10 Max, has five who have gotten through
non-conference play so far without a loss.
USC had better win every game, and win big.
I’m not saying USC isn’t the best team in America, and
I’m certainly not saying an unbeaten Trojan team can’t
win the national championship, but would USC win the SEC
or Big 12 title? .... Ehhhhhh, maybe, but it wouldn't be
Thanks to its conference, USC can’t take a week off.
It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s the reality after
the way this season has started. If Georgia can drop
from No. 1 for doing nothing more than survive a nasty
road battle at South Carolina, then the same logic will
have to be applied to the Trojans if they don't blow up
against this mediocre schedule.
Yeah, this season, style points count.
LSU won a big game on
Saturday night. Maybe more important, it might have
found a quarterback to build around for the next four
years. It’s not as if the program didn’t know what it
had in redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. He was one of the
nation’s top recruits, when the Tigers plucked him out
of Brenham (Tex.) High School two years ago. However, no
coaching staff really knows what it has until the
lights are on and the road crowd is trying to intimidate
from every corner of the stadium.
For reasons that extend well beyond the numbers, Lee was
remarkable in the first big test of his college career.
He bounced back from a terrible pick six in the second
quarter to lead LSU to a monumental win over rival
Auburn. Freshmen just don’t do that in SEC games of this
magnitude. He hung tough in the pocket on a beautiful
touchdown pass to Chris Mitchell that cut the lead to
four points in the third quarter. On the game-winning
touchdown pass in the final minute, he put the ball
where only Brandon LaFell could make the grab. Lee
always had the physical ability to play the position at
this level, but on Saturday night, he proved to everyone
in attendance that he also has the make-up, moxie, and
maturity inherent to all great quarterbacks. LSU is
going to win titles with Jarrett Lee under center.
Because of the way the redshirt freshman performed on
the Plains Saturday night after starter Andrew Hatch had
his bell rung, those titles could come to Baton Rouge as
early as this fall.
And Jimbo had better be really, really
It's over. The Bobby Bowden era needs to come to a polite close.
We’ve all got reverence for what Bowden has accomplished at Florida
State. It goes without saying that he’s a legend regardless of what
the Seminoles have been mired in over the past few seasons. However,
the program shows no signs of breaking through with Bowden at the
controls. In fact, it might be getting worse. Witness Saturday
night’s miserable loss to Wake Forest, the ‘Noles third straight to
the Demon Deacons. Florida State was out played and out coached by a
very solid program, but one that doesn’t have as much talent as the
team in garnet and gold. If you’re keeping score at home, Florida
State has registered exactly three points in the last two games with
Wake Forest at Doak Campbell Stadium. That is wholly unacceptable
for this program, and unlikely to change as long as it’s business as
usual on the sidelines.
On the other hand, Bowden’s best measuring stick, fellow AARP member
Joe Paterno, is enjoying a rebirth of sorts at Penn State. These
days, both are tower coaches, delegating more than they get their
hands dirty, but the Nittany Lions are flourishing where the
Seminoles are floundering. While Paterno has found the right formula
and pushed the right buttons to get Penn State up to No. 12 in the
latest polls, Florida State appears lost once again. Maybe the
‘Noles regroup after Saturday’s feeble loss. More likely, however,
they’re going to lose a handful of games and move another year
further from the glory days when ACC championships were as perennial
as the change of seasons. It’s time for a change at the top in
Tallahassee, but let's hope it all ends on a high note for one of
the game's greats. This team isn't a representative of one of the
all-time great careers.
That's not just a hat rack
4. After last year's roller-coaster ride, on and off the field,
who knew what Les Miles would bring to the table this season for LSU?
After watching Saturday's game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, one can only tip
one's hat to the Hat, who--in tandem with a very safe-in-his-skin
coordinator, Gary Crowton--had his untested quarterbacks ready to
perform under pressure.
He's received his share of knocks--and deservedly so--after some
baffling bouts with brain cramps over the years (then again, this writer
has had his own personal share of them; the human condition demands that
the species will experience the agony of a misfiring synapse every now
and then), but on a larger overall level, it's clear that Miles
has maintained the trust and confidence of his players. That says
something very significant about a man who was THISCLOSE to Ann Arbor
Mr. Miles has to be marveling--with a little bit of quiet awe,
I'd imagine--at the ways in which life's long and winding road has
turned in his favor. While Rich Rodriguez has a long-term reclamation
project on his hands at Michigan, the Hat has LSU atop the SEC West
along with a certain soul named Saban. Four weeks into the 2008
campaign, Les Miles has to be very satisfied with the way his team has
begun to defend its national championship.
Yeah, and I bought those .com stocks in 2001, too.
I may be a little late to the party, but they can really play
football down in the SEC.
After years of defending the Big Ten in print and over the air
waves, I submit fully to the SEC. All you have to do is look at the
events of Saturday and in particular Saturday night. Start off with
Georgia going out to Arizona State and giving the Sun Devils a
thorough 27-10 spanking. It’s not only that they went out to Pac-10
country and won, it’s the way they did it. Mark Richt’s squad was
not particularly impressive in the first half, but the second half
was a different story. All the Sun Devils could get was one
third-quarter touchdown in the first five minutes of the second
half. Arizona State could muster nothing after that. Georgia looked
every bit as dominating as they could possibly have hoped for prior
to this visit to Tempe.
That was an
excellent performance, but LSU and Auburn produced oohs and ahhs
throughout the game. Auburn builds the double-digit lead at home and
LSU keeps fighting. LSU takes the lead, Auburn comes back and then
Les Miles’ team gets the win on Jarrett Lee’s 18-yard TD pass to
Brandon LeFell with 1:03 left. Of course, LSU closes the deal with
That’s what SEC
football is about and even Big Ten dinosaurs have come around.