One of the problems with being a fan of one particular team is that you tend to lose perspective on the sport as a whole. Every flaw of your own team is magnified, and every mistake seems to be unique. Part of the hyper-criticism of Les Miles is based upon the mistaken belief that Other Teams Don't Do This.
A lazy Saturday on the couch, watching the best teams in college football compete for conference titles, should have disabused anyone of that notion. This isn't to say that Miles is immune from criticism, mistakes are mistakes and they need to be corrected, but let's not start from the point that Good Teams Don't Do This. This weekend showed that, most definitely, even the best teams make massive mistakes that look like, well, the mistakes we tend to think are so unique to LSU.
Mediocre to terrible quarterback play? Perhaps the biggest charge lobbed at Miles is the stagnation of the passing game. And look, LSU ranked 111th in passing offense, which is plainly unacceptable. But part of that is the fact LSU ranks 116th in pass attempts. LSU ranks a much more reasonable 48th in yards/attempt and 73rd in team passer rating. Still an issue, but not nearly as catastrophic.
It's not exactly like we saw a display of quarterbacking prowess over the weekend. Treon Harris went 9 for 24, and it looked even worse than that. And while he was the standard of terrible QB play, it's not like he was the only example. Connor Cook went 16/32 with a pick... in a winning effort for Michigan St. The Pac-12 title game gave us the superstar Cody Kessler throwing for 22/37 for just 187 yards while Stanford barely threw it all, as Kevin Hogan went 9/12 for 144. Houston capped off its run to Big Six bowl on the back of an 11/21 for 88 yard effort by its QB, Greg Ward.
About the only QB who looked great was Deshaun Watson, and he's up for the Heisman. I'm not saying LSU's passing problems are a good thing, but they are hardly unique, nor are these preventing other teams from winning. Heck, Baylor ran the single wing due to injuries at the position and almost erased a 20-point deficit in the second half.
Letting teams up off the mat? Clemson jumped out to a 35-16 lead with less than five minutes left in the third quarter. The game was, for all intents and purposes, over. Yet UNC came roaring back, even erasing a 42-23 fourth quarter deficit, only to lose on a botched call on the onside kick. Even the #1 team in the country lets teams back in it. Heck, they even have clock management issues to close out the first half.
Blowing games to inferior opponents? Oklahoma is in the playoffs despite a loss to Texas. Texas struck again, stunning Baylor in Waco. Alabama struggled in the first half with a far inferior Florida team, which also doubles as their best win of the season. Bama has a loss to three-loss Ole Miss. Half of the playoff field dropped a game to an "inferior" team.
Special teams breakdowns? Alabama says hi. Florida managed to hang around longer than they probably should have thanks to a punt return for a touchdown. Also, Alabama consistently squandered good field position thanks to repeated blocks in the back. Alabama kept Florida in the game thanks to self-inflicted wounds. Sound familiar?
Failed defensive two-minute drills? One of my pet peeves of the LSU defense the past few years has been the defense's continued failures on the final drives of halves. It has improved, but it is still an issue. UNC gave up a huge touchdown on a short clock at the end of the 1st half to Clemson, which ended up being the difference. And poor Iowa surrendered an epic 22-play drive that ate up most of the fourth quarter to lose its bid to the playoffs.
This was the best college football had to offer, and the games were great and entertaining. The playoff field is full of deserving teams who represent the cream of the college football crop. And even amongst the best of the best, we saw silly mistakes, the failure to execute, and mental errors. This isn't to condemn those teams or claim they are undeserving. This is to point out that the elite teams make the same mistakes we pretend that only LSU makes.
College football is imperfect, which is what makes it beautiful. There are issues with this LSU team, but they are not unique, nor are they prohibitive from building a playoff team. We just sat on our couches and watched four imperfect teams play their way into the playoffs for a shot at the national title.