Sallee Blog: Trouble in Baton Rouge
LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les Miles
Posted Jan 2, 2010

CFN SEC Blogger Barrett Sallee discusses why LSU's 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl is just another chapter in the story of Les Miles' inability to manage a game.

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All is not well in Baton Rouge. Following LSU's sloppy 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl, it's become apparent that some changes need to be made to the LSU football program.

For the second time this season, the Tigers displayed abysmal clock management in the final two minutes of a football game. With 39 seconds left in the game and no timeouts left, LSU guard Lyle Hitt pulled Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman off a pile when Bowman was obviously squatting to waste time.

The play probably will be viewed as the drive-killer for the Tigers. But it was what happened before and after that play that should have LSU fans very concerned.

The play that caused that pile was a screen pass, just as it was in the late game debacle in Oxford against Ole Miss earlier in the season. Screen plays are slow developing, typically don't gain chunks of yardage at one time and often result in the receiver being tackled in bounds. These are things that the LSU coaching staff should already know. The fact that they apparently don't should be very concerning to LSU fans.

Gary Crowton already has drawn the ire of the LSU fan base with the ineptitude shown by the Tigers on offense this season. That screen pass should exacerbate it. Crowton has said recently that there are "too many weapons," on the LSU roster, and that sometimes it's hard to get guys going. Something tells me that excuse isn't going to fly anymore.

While the initial play call was bad, what happened after the penalty was worse.

Since the tackle on the ill-faded screen pass was made in the field of play, the game clock was wound as soon as the ball was spotted. Apparently nobody told Les Miles and LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

Fifteen seconds ticked off the clock before Jefferson's hail mary to LaFell hit the ground with three seconds left. LSU's apparent lack of preparation to run a coherent two-minute drill is an indictment of its coaching staff and, in particular, Les Miles.

This marks the second time this season that Les Miles' team has imploded late in games. What started out as a vocal minority of fans frustrated with the coaching staff has grown to a dull roar, and it has reached its tipping point. In 2007, the Tigers were celebrating a National Championship. Just two years later, their coach has put himself on the hottest seat in the SEC.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for He can be reached at, or on Twitter at

Off-Season Column Archive:
Trouble In Baton Rouge – January 2, 2010
Meyer Calls A Reverse – December 27, 2009
Urban Meyer's SEC Legacy – December 26, 2009
End Of The Season Accountability – December 26, 2009
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 18, 2009
2009 SEC Superlatives – December 13, 2009

Click here for the 2009 Regular Season Three & Out archive

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