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Q&A w ND bloggers, more tricks left in LSU's offense, etc

The Notre Dame blog Her Loyal Sons, with whom we did a Q&A in the lead up to the Sugar Bowl, asked me to answer a few questions about the Tigers, so I obliged 'em. I'll repost it here:

1) The entire football world seems a little shocked in the way LSU man-handled Virginia Tech. Did you guys think that LSU would be this good all along? Are you buying the hype, or is there more to this? Is VaTech overrated?

Very few rational folks expected the offense to perform the way it did against the Hokies; losing a QB and the top two wideouts AND installing a new offense made it seem like a relatively straightforward bet that it would take the offense awhile to gel. On the other hand, most everyone expected the defense to be stout. This was solidified not long after the Sugar Bowl when Tiger fans learned that both Glenn Dorsey and Bo Pelini would be back this year. While LaRon Landry was a key loss on that side of the ball, our 8 returning starters had pretty much everyone confident that we wouldn't drop off much, if at all.

Who knows on the overrated-Va-Tech question. I get annoyed when a good team beats another good team and the world emphatically declares the losing team to be "overrated." Perhaps the losing team was fairly rated and just got their asses beat? By that logic, the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers made every single team that year look overrated. Ergo, no team was deserving of the #2 ranking. Not that we're the `95 Huskers, or even close, but just using that to illustrate a point. We'll find out over the next few weeks if Virginia Tech really is as bad as we made them look last Saturday. It's tough to argue against a defense that compiled the #1 ranking in the country for two consecutive seasons entering this one. But clearly they've got some previously overlooked problems at QB that are being addressed.

2) Les Miles seems to be the alpha-candidate in the hearts and minds of Michigan (sucks!) fans everywhere for the position of Head Lloydd Carr Replacer. Are you concerned at this point? Les hasn't been very committal one way or the other when asked about the potential opportunity. Or has he, but the media is burying it for a story?

I'm not that concerned. I like Les Miles plenty enough, and if you scroll through my blog posts throughout last football season you can see that, but I have to say I'm surprised by the amount his star has risen in the last week. I guess the stars really aligned on that front for Les, with our huge win (now clearly the signature win of his 2+ year tenure) coming in conjunction with the world realizing in stunning fashion that Lloyd Carr is done.

If you'd have polled a group of Tiger fans prior to the season, I guarantee you at least half - and likely far more - would have been indifferent if Les left. I don't think a single person in the blogosphere considered Miles to be aything more than a complete boob. Everyone's LSU ranking came with the caveat "would be higher if not for the dude on the sidelines wearing the headset." Yadda yadda yadda. There is plenty truth to the assertion that we've turned in subpar performances in pivotal early season games (Tennessee `05, Auburn and Florida `06). So that little nagging tidbit left most folks unconvinced on Miles' true acumen as a head coach.

I personally think Les absolutely leaves LSU for Michigan (assuming the season unfolds such that they still want him by the end of it), and I wouldn't blame him at all. Michigan is his alma mater. He's a Bo Schembechler guy, and who WOULDN'T take the opportunity to pay tribute to his hero by following in his footsteps? And how often has that Michigan head spot actually been open during our lifetimes? If he passes on it now, he may never again get the same opportunity. Of course he'll be noncommittal all season, but that's out of pure respect to his team and Mr. Carr (who hasn't officially been axed yet, let's remember).

The disruption to LSU will be a bummer, but probably an overrated issue when it's all said and done. Having to name the third head coach since 2004 may seem like a big problem, but LSU would clearly exhibit a polar opposite set of circumstances to the typical program in the midst of such turmoil. Hopefully we'll be coming off a national title and third-straight 11-win season.

3) Clearly if the LSU offense keeps going the way it's going, a Heisman candidate must emerge. It's some sort of mathematical certainty or something. So who will we see in Manhattan later this year?

I would disagree with that though I certainly hope you're right. Here's why: first, it won't be one of our running backs, that's for sure. We spread the ball around WAY too much to the RBs to get a real head of steam for any one individual that way. Were Keiland Williams getting the ball 25 times a game, he'd be out in front.

Secondly, it won't be QB Matt Flynn, who hasn't put up the type of stats yet that you'd see from the typical Heisman winners. Through two games, most guys who win the Heisman seem to typically have already rolled up a couple 300 yard passing games with 4 TDs in each. On top of that, he'll be splitting at least a couple snaps a game with Ryan Perrilloux.

Third, WR Early Doucet would be the clear favorite at this point but it's going to be tough for him to really stand out the way a Calvin Johnson did, given that we have so many options on offense. And Early won't put up near Calvin Johnson-type stats. And Calvin didn't even win after all that. It's been 15 years since a WR won the Heisman (Desmond Howard in `91), and only two have ever won (adding Tim Brown in `87, as you know) so I wouldn't bet on this at all.

4) Any good Athletic Director is prepared for any worst-case scenario at any time. So, hypothetically speaking, who's on your AD's short list for the head coaching job? You know, not that it would ever happen, but just in case...

Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini. See also Pelini, Bo. Butch Davis' name will get thrown in there (come on, who wouldn't leave UNC for LSU, given the current state of the two programs, even if it means ditching NC after a year?), but that won't happen. And some will speculate that Steve Spurrier may want to move, and I think he's enough of a douchebag that he'd do that to the Carolina faithful.

I kid, I kid.

Well no, not really. I don't like Steve. But anyway, the answer is Bo Pelini. If he wants it. Hopefully that's why he decided to stay the extra year, thinking that Carr's reign at Michigan would be close to complete, and Bo's superior would be first in line to move up there, thus opening up the head LSU spot.

5) As outside observers, we at HLS think that, at best, moving from LSU to Michigan would be a horizontal career move. And, really, given the state of the 2 programs, probably a step back. Does the LSU fanbase feel a bit slighted by the media in all of this discussion?

Not at all. LSU has been getting a BOATLOAD of respect in the last couple weeks. We're #2 in the country for Chrissakes, and just picked up a ton of #1 votes from SC on their bye week. Anyone who says there's any sort of anti-LSU bias in the media is a complete and utter moron. You'll find an ample supply of those on the various Tiger message boards. Lately, though, those types have been silenced a lot more quickly as more and more of the fan base gets over the Rodney Dangerfield syndrome.

Given Miles' deep ties to Michigan, I don't think many Tiger fans really feel like the world is portraying it as a potential move up for Les, just a move closer to where his own heart lies. Even the Michigan media recently had some pieces suggesting that Miles would be better off staying in Baton Rouge, both from the perspective of the respective programs' current state and the talent base from which they can recruit (given that Louisiana is generally pretty loaded with athletes). Some will say that Michigan can overcome that by recruiting across the country given the name's cachet, and there's some truth to that. But read Sunday Morning QB after Michigan's loss to Oregon last week - a number of highly touted UM recruits were on the sidelines for that one and were openly expressing their desire to attend Oregon instead. Rash on their part? Shortsighted? Probably. But I guess them's the breaks when you're dealing with the minds of 17-year old BMOCs; UM has clearly lost a lot of pull with the high school types over the past couple weeks.

Gary Crowton, aka "The Wizard," evidently still has a couple tricks up his sleeve that we've yet to see. Helps to get out to a quick 24-0 lead. From Early Doucet:

"We did some different things, but we still haven't showed some of the stuff we can do," Doucet said. "We still kept it a little simple because we got on them and kept getting on them. They never got a chance to fight back, so we didn't have to do too much."

We're #1 in weather staffing too, bitches!

Miles cited an accurate weather report from staffers as the reason LSU was able to switch from its outdoor practice fields to its indoor facility Wednesday before heavy rain hit the campus. "Not a drop was spilled on an LSU uniform," Miles said