Just some bullets to end the week. It's been a long, productive week here at ATVS, and it's time to settle down the chatter and wait for the game to be played. In the meantime, here are my thoughts:
- Talk radio here in Alabama is all over the map. Some Auburn fans think their team stinks. Some Auburn fans think their team is on the verge of greatness if they can just get a few kinks worked out. Some are hanging their hats on the undisputed facts that a) the game is being played at Auburn, and b) we haven't played anyone yet.
- For what it's worth, the "LSU is completely untested" argument is perfectly valid. It's the one I keep using, personally. We don't know how this team will respond to a team that will fight back. We don't know if our offensive line can consistently open running lanes against a defense as good as Auburn's. We don't know if our QB play can be productive against a team like that. We don't know how our young defensive backs will respond to the pressure the spread will put on them, even if it isn't run very effectively.
- One of the most overused phrases is "game manager." I'm not really sure what it means, but if it means anything, I think it has to mean a) getting the play called and the team to the line quickly, b) getting audibles called to the right play, c) calling blocking assignments, d) avoiding pre-snap penalties, and e) finding the open receiver and passing to him. If those are the factors to consider, Matt Flynn was not a particularly good "game manager." We had no end of wasted timeouts and pre-snap penalties last year. If that's the work of the "game manager", then whoever that was didn't do a very good job.
- This year, Andrew Hatch is the "game manager." It remains to be seen if he can do the above things effectively, but a lot of people credit Flynn with being a "game manager" when LSU was plagued with the sorts of mistakes that great game managers would not allow to happen. To me the term "game manager" has come to mean "quarterback without a great deal of natural talent."
- One thing you are hearing on talk radio here in Alabama is the great consternation over the Auburn quarterback situation. I don't pretend to know the truth about what Tommy Tuberville is thinking or doing, but the rampant speculation about doghouses, broken promises, pre-determined winners of camp battles, team division, staff division, etc. isn't a good thing for a program, even if none of it is true.
- I think cgisclair is correct when he writes:
I do not know the outcome of Saturday’s game, obviously, but I can tell you Miles and co. will do everything in their power to make sure LSU is as prepared as ever.
While yes, this may seem like a usual ‘LSU/Auburn’ matchup, this game is more for Miles.
Because in his career at LSU, he has done everything. He’s won the Western Division. He’s won the SEC. He’s won the National Championship. But the one thing he has not done is conquer some of the SEC powerhouses on the road.
Miles has made it a personal challenge of his this season to achieve victory in major road venues like the Swamp or like Jordan-Hare Stadium, because he knows if he can turn LSU into a dominant road team that he will be able to compete for national championships every season, not just every ‘odd-year’ season like LSU seems to be doing now.
I think Miles takes this game, and this season, very personally. I think he knows that a lot of outsiders don't give him a lot of credit for winning the BCS championship last year, or for the success he's had in the years before that at LSU. He knows now, though, more than ever, this is his team. This is the kind of team Les Miles puts together. Only a handful of the players left on the team are guys he did not bring in himself, and he knows that for the first time in his tenure at LSU the bulk of the team's best players are his own guys.*
He's already accomplished things no other LSU coach has ever done. No coach has had 3 consecutive seasons of 2 losses or fewer. No coach has had 3 consecutive double-digit win seasons. No LSU coach has ever had a 3-year run of success like Les Miles has had, but there are still things left to accomplish that haven't been accomplished yet. Such as,
- He hasn't won at Auburn
- He hasn't beaten Mark Richt (he only had one try at it, to be fair)
- He hasn't won at Florida
- He hasn't had a season with less than two losses (honestly, I think that goal will realistically have to wait)
*Really, the "he won with Saban's players" meme is as asinine as it gets. If there's one thing that Les Miles has absolutely been the equal of Saban at, it's recruiting. Our recruiting was strong under Saban and it remains strong today. If anything, it's actually improved under Miles. If the argument is, "He can only win with great players," well, you win. He can't win the SEC without outstanding talent. But please show me the coach who can.