This week was dominated by talk and speculation about Les Miles' job. Even before the game, a member of the Board of Directors openly speculated about his job security even if Les won out. With all of the noise and distractions, this was the perfect time for the team to rally and regroup as a team.
Not so much.
The defense allowed a huge pass play on the first play from scrimmage. With a chance to come out of the gates and make a statement, the statement they choose was "Oops." Hey, but at least the defense stiffened up and held Ole Miss to a field goal. Big mistake, but no major damage done.
Then the offense took the field. A penalty wiped out a pretty decent return by Derrius Guice. Another penalty wiped out a 59-yard by Leonard Fournette on LSU's first play from scrimmage. And after the dust had cleared, LSU punted the ball having committed five penalties on just seven offensive snaps (one was declined).
This team had a chance to silence the chatter and show that this is a good football team or at the very least, everything is on the right course. They instead dug themselves a 24-0 hole, primarily through a series of self-inflicted wounds.
This was one of the most dispiriting losses in LSU history.*
*Snide aside: Hey, we outgained ‘em, so this was all a fluke, right? LSU deserved to win this game because it gained more yards!
More than anything, it felt like the end of an era. As the Ole Miss lead kept climbing, LSU just kept feeding the ball to Fournette, as if they had no other idea of what to do. However, a patchwork offensive line couldn't open a hole. Still, doggedly ad persistently, this coaching staff kept trying to jam the round peg into the square hole, thinking that if they just hit it a bit harder, maybe the peg would finally fit.
LSU did manage to show some life early in the second half, scoring a quick 10 points keyed by a fumble on the kickoff return by Ole Miss. This hope was short-lived, as Ole Miss responded by driving the full length of the field in seven plays. Chad Kelly went 5/5 on the drive, and rushed the other two plays, so he was responsible for every yard on that drive. In a big moment, Ole Miss' best player stepped up.
LSU merely got more diminished with every passing second of the game until the team had dug itself yet another huge hole. This time, LSU wouldn't come close to digging out of it.
Before today, Les Miles had never lost three consecutive games at LSU. Now, not only did this team lose three consecutive games, they lost each of these games by blowout. Not one of these games this month have been remotely competitive. LSU has shown brief signs of life right around halftime, only for the game to return to its state of blowout.
Five to ten minutes of effort do not cut it. Games are sixty minutes long.
This isn't a team that has given up. They kept fighting both literally and figuratively, driving down the field in the fourth quarter to try and make the score look not quite as bad on the scoreboard. Of course, it ended with a fumble on the one-yard line due to a confused pitch. It's not about effort, and it's not about talent. There is talent across the board at every position.
It's just a team without a plan, and all of that emotion is terribly unfocused right now. The team tried to go out there and rally for Miles, but all they managed to do was mistake after mistake after mistake. And the staff seemed to have no answers. When they've run out of answers, maybe it's time to find someone who does.
I see no way Les Miles survives this. This felt like the end. After performances like this over the past month, maybe I'm ready for it to end as well.