Alright folks, now that the regular season has ended, and we know who will be coaching this team in 2016, what are your thoughts on LSU's 8-3 mark this year?
Going into the season, I predicted it would play out like 2010, a two loss season from a team that has all the right pieces to compete for a title next year, but for now there are some kinks to iron out. Which is exactly what happened, only I was one (or two, depending if you count McNeese) wins off of that mark.
I think it went pretty good. People will focus on November, and it was a god awful month that saw the Leonard Fournette's Heisman die at the hands of the worse offensive line performance I can recall with Harris regressing and the defense lapsing, validating the Steele critics.
However, there's also September and October to digest, it's completely unfair to the team to gloss over that. Sure the best win was against a Florida team that's probably the worst two loss team in the country, but I felt that was the closest look at next year's team we got of of this season. Yes the team allowed 28 points to a Florida team that was making due with the bread crumbs left by Muschamp, but take away a muffed punt and a punt coverage gaff and the final is 35-14, which is a much more sexy scoreline. Hell, take away all special teams scores and it's still 28-14, and I will gladly take a 14 point win over Florida any year.
Harris will get better, and by proxy so will the offense. By no means will he take Fournette's Heisman, but next year I firmly believe that Brandon will kill the LSU Black Hole At QB Narrative.
The biggest question mark for me has yet to be decided, and that's recruiting. Losing Franks to Florida was huge, but it's my understanding that's what would have happened anyway, regardless of any skid or coaching changes. Now they need to flip him back or try to outmuscle everybody for a guy like Jacob Eason, who at this time is committed to Georgia, but outing a head coach tends to install trepidation in recruits. There's no time for "projects", Harris will probably leave in two year, but Miles is feeling the heat to plug and play quarterbacks without holding back parts of the playbook. LSU has probably done the best job of anybody in the nation with keeping pace with Alabama in the recruiting war, it's the translating the talent to production that's been the issue and nearly cost Les his job. LSU needs to find an answer and end this season on a high note.
LSU will play their last game by the first week of January, but the season won't end until February 3rd.
Is it bad to say this was expected? Fournette was expected to be the offense. That happened. There were expectations of moderately better quarterback play and some kind of downgrade on defense. The regular season narrative everyone had in the pre-season sort of played out as expected.
On the flip side, that losing streak was unexpected. Not just in how many games but how it happened. You maybe could have seen loosing two games over this November stretch. Maybe the third would come earlier in the season. Even if this team did lose three, it didn't seem likely they would be blown out in all three losses.
Our coach almost got fired, we lost to Alabama, our QB can't play a lick and we still won 8* games. All told, pretty normal year in the Miles era.
It's weird to call a season that started 7-0 this, but it was an expected disappointment. I thought Brandon Harris would've played better but I've learned over the years to take the preseason hype with a huge grain of salt and was able to see through it.
I did think the Arkansas game would be a win after they lost Jonathan Williams and that the other loss would come to Auburn (who maybe had a higher failure of QB expectations with Johnson than we did with Harris) or A&M (who could almost say the same thing with Kyle Allen and the brief appearances by their "savior" Kyler). Taking shots at other teams helps me cope with the disappointment, just leave me be.
The way the season ended last year with the loss in the Music City Bowl left a bad taste in my mouth. I wasn't really excited about this season until I went to Fan Day. Hearing the music, interacting with the defensive players as I got their autographs, and meeting Jim Hawthorne made it all fun again. And then the team started winning games including wins against Auburn and Florida. I thought to myself this team is pretty good. I also was thinking this team might rival the 2011 team for best all time. Ok maybe I was believing all the social media hype. However everything changed when we played Alabama. All my hopes and dreams were dashed. It was like the Cubs lost the NLCS to the Mets again. My only reaction was at least basketball was starting the next Friday. A sense of apathy set in after I offered the loss up, and it continued over the next couple of weeks with losses to Arkansas and Ole Miss. This apathy didn't subside until about half way through the Texas A&M game. For me the first highlight of the night was seeing the Golden Band from Tigerland play alongside 3 Doors Down. Then LSU started exploiting the Aggie defense in the second half, and it was fun watching the Aggie fans sitting near me squirm. It wasn't a particularly good game, but it was a fun game to watch. LSU got the W and carried its coach off the field in a heroic fashion. They say wins cure all ills, and it did Saturday Night in Death Valley at least until the bowl game.
Well, with a bowl win this will virtually be a 10 win season, the 8th in 11 years under Miles. That's good. The team was better than last year. That's also good. Leonard Fournette was the best football player in America. That's good. The team actually rushed the passer. That's good too. We beat Auburn and A&M. That's good.
We got blown out in 3 straight weeks in November. That's bad. We hit a peak of #2 in the country and then went 1-3 to finish. That's bad. We lost to Ole Miss. That's bad. QB play was iffy and suspect. That's not bad, it was both good and bad over the course of the year. The defense was not good.
Overall, it was sort of what we expected, just with a few more highs and a few more lows. Win the bowl game, and I can chalk this season down as a success.
Bad results mixed with reasons to be optimistic.
Offense: The first seven games of the season, we saw Brandon Harris take good care of the football, make good decisions, and play efficiently if not effectively most of the time. The back half of the season, we saw what happens to a first year starter when he gets rattled and his offensive line falls apart in spectacular fashion. I'm hopeful Brandon makes a leap similar to Mett did in his second year of starting, the O-line gets back on track, and the receivers improve over the off season. If not, we are stuck in the same place we've been since 2013.
Defense: Still trying to figure out what the hell happened to the secondary. The unit that was supposed to be the linchpin of the defense had a bad year. Several busted coverages and a general look of confusion seemed to permeate all season. I thought the D-line took some strides in the right direction this year. Much better QB pressure and stronger play throughout the season. Overall, I'm not confident in Kevin Steele going forward. If the secondary can figure it out, maybe it all works out, but I'm just not sure about it at all.
Well, at least it's basketball season.
Why would you bring that up, man?
The monkey said the grapes were probably sour anyway.
Of course this season is a disappointment. I'm not going to retroactively lower my expectations to make a failure seem like a success. LSU had eight upperclassmen starting on defense, returned nearly all of its offensive production, and oh yeah, has one of the greatest players on the planet in the backfield. On top of all that, this has turned out to be the weakest the SEC has been in over a decade. Even before we knew that, it looked like this was the easiest LSU schedule in the entire Miles era.
Then, the team jumped out to an undefeated record and the #2 ranking in the playoff poll. Expectations were, and should have been, sky high. No one is slitting their wrists over losing to Bama, but that kicked off a three game stretch in which LSU lost three games by double digits. None of those games were even remotely competitive in the second half. When Harris threw that pick to start the third quarter against Bama, it's like the whole season went to down the drain. LSU had not lost three consecutive games ever under Miles, and not by double digits since 1966. If you've achieved a negative milestone not even Curley reached, you've done something.
5-3 is a nice conference record, and we're lucky to follow a program at which 5-3 is a disappointing year. However, let's not pretend it wasn't disappointing. It was. This team still could have made the Sugar Bowl after back-to-back blowouts, and couldn't even salvage that. This team worked hard in November to squander two months of good vibes. I'm thrilled Miles survived the palace coup, but I'm also not going to pretend this season fell short of expectations.
It has to be one of the weirder years on record, in terms of the highs and the lows, to say nothing of all the BS at the end.
If you'd told me 8/9-3 before the season, I wouldn't have thought that was crazy, but I wouldn't have guessed all three losses would come by double-digits in November. Not after a start like that against LSU's early schedule. Of course, I also didn't think Auburn or South Carolina would be that awful, either (even if I thought they'd under-perform their expectations, not THAT bad).
But the peaks and the valleys were SO steep. People can say what they want, but LSU had earned that No. 2 ranking in October, and the offense damn sure looked like it was on the upswing. I mean we had Alabama fans here trying to talk up a 150-yard game from Fournette as being "contained." Even they didn't think they could do what they did. After that, I think to some degree we saw what a lot of us have been talking about for some time now -- the domination of Alabama in everything LSU tries to do. You can't be so focused on one team that they break you, especially when that team has their thumb on every aspect of college football right now the way Alabama does. LSU needs to stop worrying about other teams and just worry about themselves.
On that note, what are everybody's hopes for the bowl season?
Come on, we're overdue. We haven't been to Texas in a minute and it's a recruiting hot bed for us. Houston would be awesome regionally, awesome for recruiting and an easy way to sell tickets, even to disappointed fans.
I honestly don't care where we go bowling, just win the damned game.
No kidding. Just give us a good matchup because if they lose, well. A long offseason is already long with a bowl loss, but in this environment? It'll be miserable.
And if it's LSU-FSU in the Taxslayer Bowl? Holy hell will that be awkward.
As a Houston resident, well, my bowl game desire is fairly obvious. I echo all of Dan, err, Paul's sentiments.
Michigan. Michigan. Michigan.
A win is all that matters. For viewing purposes, hopefully it's a bowl game which does not take place during the workday.
I spend every bowl season hoping we will get matched up with Michigan, and every year I end up on my back like Charlie Brown, having missed the football again. I expect more of that. The bowls are run by Peppermint Patty.
I really don't care if we win. I mean, I'd like to, but I'm not going to get emotionally invested in an exhibition. I don't watch pro wrestling, either.
I'll share the same sentiment as Eric. Just give me a win and a game that's not during the work week. I can only imagine what the fanbase will be like if Miles loses his bowl game right after keeping his job by the skin on his teeth.