Is there anyway I can sensibly link Lou Gehrig's memorable, emotional retirement speech to Les Miles' hapless coaching Saturday? Probably not. But I hope by using Gary Cooper's depiction of Gehrig, you'll consider me a little less of an asshole. Okay, I don't really care that much. Honestly, the words of Gehrig have been ringing in my head since Ridley plowed across the goal line for the game-winning score. Is Les Miles the luckiest man in the history of college football? This is the anthem we've heard sung for the entirety of his tenure, after all. "He's winning with Saban's talent." "His great talent bails out all his stupid coaching." "He can't talk so obviously he can't coach."
Perhaps this is true... but perhaps this isn't... more after the jump.
(Feel free to skip to the bolded text "THE GAME" below, if you care not to read about Les Miles."
For all of the above to be true, Les Miles would simply have to be the single luckiest head coach in the history of college football. After all, we fortuitously landed in a National Championship game with two losses. It doesn't get much more lucky than that, does it? So perhaps all the luck-sayers are truly on to something. More realistically, it's somewhere in the middle. I'm not going to turn this post game wrap up into a bash Les piece. There's plenty of that going on already. I was angry earlier today. But I found his press conference rather interesting.
|Les Miles postgame comments following the 16-14 win against Tennessee|
Can anyone else remember a more spirited Les Miles press conference? Besides the "I have a damn strong football team?" I honestly can't. Look, love or hate Les, put aside your petty dissecting of the way he speaks and consider what he's honestly saying here. To me, here are the conclusions I draw:
a) Gary Crowton runs this offense down to the very substitution packages we make.
b) Les trusts his coordinators to do their damn job... coordinate.
c) Les is not happy with the way Crowton is doing is his damn job.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into the comments. The honest truth is, as head coach, Les deserves blame as well. He's the overseer of the entire operation. Shitty oversight typically leads to shitty production. This isn't 100% on Gary Crowton. But this isn't 100% on Les Miles either. I would honestly be a bit surprised if Crowton survived this game. He may not be publicly fired, but I wouldn't be surprised if his duties were reduced/eliminated and Les and Billy take over the team. Les admits he called the last play. Why the last play wasn't the first play we ran from 1st and Goal from the two... I don't know.
The bottom line: the end of the game was mismanaged. Les deserves some of the blame, but he seems equally perplexed by the constantly shifting personnel and formations, which he tried to politely justify as "gaining an advantage." Regardless, it is what it is... let's move on.
Well, it was. I mentioned this last week, and while most of what I've read are people quick to singing Jarrett Lee's praises, the issues were mostly what I feared. A different kind of suck, but a suck nonetheless. Look, everyone has become convinced that "more yards = better football." Sorry, but that's such a simplistic, uninformed view. What does it matter if Lee throws for 900 yards if every drive ends in an interception? I'm obviously exaggerating here.
Yet, there is a reason Lee should be the starting QB going forward with no rotating bullshit. He played inspired. He may not have always played smart. He may not have always played well. But he "fought like hell" to borrow a phrase from Les.
The offense generally "looked" smoother with him out there. He throws a better ball. He gives us a better chance to "win" in the passing game. I can readily admit these things. But he also turns around and does some mind-blowingly putrid things. Taking a delay of game in the final precious moments of the game is entirely on him. Lofting the ball in the air off his back foot must be put to rest. The pick, whilst a horrible play call, was an equally horrible throw. But I won't deny that passing game 100% functioned at a higher level.
Yet, I maintain my theory. The reason JJ remained the starting QB for so long is because they knew while he would struggle to move it through the air, he would also not put the defense in jeopardy. With Lee, I'm not sure they have that same trust. However, the Jefferson we've seen the past few weeks, no longer does that. Thus, putting him on the bench becomes an easier decision. Additionally, I think the coaches very plainly told JJ this week that Lee would get snaps. He seemed to handle the transition much easier this week (whereas last week he looked a bit shell shocked). Next week, I think we'll see Jarrett Lee exclusively.
-Stevan Ridley continues to (somewhat quietly) plow forward and pick up key 1st downs and move our offense up and down the field with consistency. In my book, he's the team MVP five games in... even ahead of Peterson.
-Losing Sam Montgomery hurts. How long will he be out? Why do our players always get screwed by SEC schools chop blocking? That said, it doesn't hurt as bad as losing a player of his quality last week would have. Our DL is so stout right now, with tons of bodies. Hopefully Sam's injury is of the 1-3 week variety, and not the season ending variety.
-Tennessee ran the ball effectively on us. This is a lesser back than Ingram/Richardson. That has me a bit nervous.
-Dooley has the same whiny bitch mentality of Saban. I love how he threw his headset after they lost the game. Why are you throwing a fit? It was your own poor coaching that cost you, and your players, a big win.
-Barkevious Mingo may not be a consistently great DE... yet. But that guy is a terror. I guarantee more than a few OC's are concerned with how to block him up. 5 Tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF.
-I am very favorable to the running back distribution this week. Alfred Blue deservedly found the bench. Ridley carried the load (but should probably STILL get more carries). Michael Ford even touched it.
-After two weeks, it's pretty evident how much the staff was/is counting on DeAngelo Peterson to be a major weapon in this offense. Getting him the ball is a priority.
-Special Teams were a bit lackluster today. KO coverage wasn't great. Punt coverage wasn't great. Jasper had a blocked FG that he simply didn't get up enough. The return units didn't block as well as they have been. The punting itself was good though.
-Janzen Jackson just HAD to get a pick didn't he?
-Justin Hunter just HAD to come up with a huge catch, didn't he?
-Other than Alabama, there isn't a single team on our schedule that looks "unbeatable."
-This team is going to be fired up to play Florida next week. I'm not sure Florida is going to be up for that game after getting completely destroyed. Losses like that tend to ebb at your season.
-All credit to Jarrett Lee for sticking through a whole bunch of bullshit, working his ass off and doing his best.
-Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good... right?