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Wednesday Wayback: Monday Night In Death Valley

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The only time LSU fans openly accepted a loss.

Welcome once again the Wednesday Wayback. When we last left you, Billy wrote a touching article about the 2005 Arizona State “home game.” This summer we pick it back up with the game next game on the schedule, Tennessee. This game was of course scheduled for a Saturday, but the effects of Hurricane Rita pushed it back to a Monday night. So if you’re keeping score, Les Miles’ first game at LSU was a “home” game in Tempe against Arizona State, and his first game actually played in Tiger Stadium was on a Monday night.

But Miles isn’t the main story here. Where as the Arizona State game was a three hour respite from the utter destruction and chaos created by Katrina and Rita, the Tennessee game felt like the first step in establishing normalcy to our lives. But that’s one thing for me to say, the worst thing that happened to my family was that we were without power for a week after Katrina, we were largely unaffected by Rita. But I’ve heard countless stories of people who watched the game in far off cities not knowing if they had a home to go back to after the water had receded.

But ultimately for a state that was hurting in the worst way, getting something as trivial as college football back was a step in the rebuilding process for a lot of people. LSU playing in Baton Rouge did solve everything. The football team did not remove mold from walls or pick up trees from on top of houses, they did not bring back the dead or push back the water. But they did establish a sense of normalcy and give us a sense of belonging, even if we were in a place where we didn’t belong.

The Game

-Touching tribute from ESPN. For as much flack as they take for...literally everything else, they nail videos like this. Also, Ron Franklin is the best.

-Also, HELLO FOOTBAWL BAWB.

-This was week three of the season, and after narrowly slipping past UAB 17-10 Tennessee had lost to rivals Florida coached by some guy named Urban Meyer by a score of 16-7, the first loss in their 11-game skid to the Gators. So although the Volunteers were 1-1 going into this game, the seat wasn’t exactly cozy for Phil Fulmer.

-LONG LIVE THE BRITTNEY SPEARS HEADSET

-Kyle Williams jumps offside twice in the first offensive series, giving Tennessee a first down despite bad field position.

-Overload blitz to the strong side forces Ainge to roll out. Jesse Daniels makes the hit to jar the football loose, Kenneth Hollis makes the recovery. LSU ball at the Tennessee 20.

-Addai INSTANTLY makes Tennessee pay. LSU gets into a really awkward power formation where Craig Steltz is between the tackle and tight end but isn’t in a down position. He’s motioned to the backside, but the play is a bust. Despite the overload to the playside pre-snap, Tennessee’s secondary backs are sucked in to the middle of the play. Addai stutters and goes around the congestion and sprints for six. 7-0 LSU.

-Two blitzes from Daniels, two plays behind the line.

-A 37 yard punt and 11 yard return by Green gives LSU the ball at the Tennessee 41.

-This game took place before Les perfected the “toss dive.” Despite the field position, LSU will punt. Chris Jackson and Ronnie Prude keep the ball out the endzone and inside the Tennessee 10. Chevis Jackson personal foul bails Tennessee out though.

-Highsmith plugs the hole perfectly and sticks the runner for a 3rd and 15 try, which Ainge overthrows again, this time to a guy named Robert Meachem.

-Unnecessary block in the back wipes out a terrific return by Green.

-JaMarcus Russell with the great read and Dwayne Bowe with the slip for those precious, precious YACA. On a 3rd and 13, Russell makes a crazy accurate throw to Craig Davis. And then Russell fumbles the exchange and Tennessee takes over. Football is cruel.

-After getting off to a rocky start to the game, Eric Ainge makes two timed throws that shimmies LSU a bit. But LSU slides down the field to snuff out a toss, setting up a 3rd and 4, which Ainge puts a little too much mustard on.

-Just as Tennessee starts to establish a rhythm, LSU hits a blitz perfectly to force a throwaway and snuffs out a screen to set up 3rd and 17, which Tennessee cannot convert.

-An OPI takes away an LSU first down, and Tennessee flat can’t get anything moving on their end.

-Addai gets the toss and finds a seam for 21 yards before running over Craig Davis who was trying block for him. That wasn’t very nice, Joe!

-Flea flickers are awkward by design, but that was the most awkward I’ve ever seen. Doesn’t matter, Russell hits a wide open Davis on the under for 47 yards. Addai gets robbed of a touchdown, but Russell converts. 14-0 LSU.

-Jackson and Prude once again nail Tennessee deep, this time on the one.

-FOOTBAWL BAWB is talking about the Fulmer Cup for no reason at all.

-To avoid a sack in the endzone, Ainge daintily flips the ball up in the air which Hollis receives and makes the long haul (four yards) into the endzone. 21-0 LSU.

-Because Ainge suffered an injury on the pick six, Rick Clausen, former LSU QB and brother of Jimmy, comes into the game for the Vols.

-LaRon Landry forces a fumble, which LSU recovers. Despite a personal foul to push LSU into Tennessee territory, LSU can’t do anything as Addai makes a rare fumble to give Tennessee the Vols the ball back. Looking back, that might have been the difference in the game.

-Chase Pittman gets a freebie for a 15 yard sack.

-Actually, not being able to get a field goal team on the field before half probably was the difference in the game. Something something Les Miles clock management.

-At half, LSU had more than double the total amount of total yards Tennessee had, 200 to 90. Credit Fulmer for making adjustments at the half to get back into the game.

-On a drive that saw LaRon Landry and Craig Steltz leave the field with cramps, Tennessee made the most of the weakened LSU secondary, climbing down the field culminating on a 8 yard pass from Clausen to Bret Smith. 21-7 LSU.

-Random observation, but this is the first game with the “new” LSU logo in the endzones instead of the unfortunate mess that we had before.

-Clausen starts to get in a rhythm just as LSU starts having lapses in the secondary. So to remedy this, Bo Pelini blitzes safeties off both edges on third down to trap Clausen.

-On the ensuing punt, Green picks up 26 on the return plus a Tennessee facemask. Addai rips off an 11 yard run up the middle with help of Brian Johnson. Then he does it again, just to the opposite side with Andrew Whitworth. But then he gets tripped up on back to back plays, forcing a third down where LSU opted to throw a screen pass that doesn’t convert. Chris Jackson converts a field goal though. 24-7 LSU.

-Remember when players wore visors?

-Man, Jesse Daniels was all over the place in this game.

-LSU keeps on committing snap infractions on defense, giving Tennessee too many yards.

-Ahahahahah they’re talking about how good Jimmy Clausen is. Why were the 2000’s a thing? What exactly were we thinking?

-Some third stringer named Glenn Dorsey just made an athletic sack.

-Robert Meachem crosses up Jonathon Zenon on a comeback route and takes it all the way to the LSU 10 before doing it again against Ronnie Prude on a comeback at the one yard line. LSU holds the line until fourth down where Clausen dives in. 24-14 LSU.

-Before he became everybody’s favorite LSU Tiger because of his heroics against Florida, Jacob Hester was a receiver out of the backfield.

-Oh hey John Chavis. Gig Em!

-Tennessee interception returned to the LSU 2. Jonathon Hefney read the pass and waited on it and it didn’t help that Russell sailed it a bit. Riggs punches it in, 24-21 LSU.

-With 7:15 on the clock when they started the drive, LSU went three and out with the help of a false start. Tennessee gets the ball at their 37 with 5:24 left.

-On the first play from scrimmage, Gerald Riggs busts off a 22 yard run, with LaRon saving a touchdown. Corey Anderson drops a gimme gimme touchdown for Tennessee’s sixth drop on the night.

-Tennessee is just spamming Robert Meachem comeback routes at this point.

-The Volunteers take two shots at the endzone before settling on a screen on third down. Phil takes the easy three to tie the game at 24 all.

-With the ball squarely at two minutes, LSU goes three and out after Addai gets three yards on two carries and Russell misses Bowe. Never settle for overtime. If you have a shot, take it.

-BUT LO! LaRon Landry intercepts Clausen The Middle! LSU has the ball at their 46!

-lol nvm, jamarcus was just sacked for a 10 yard loss. Overtime.

-On the first play of OT, Addai takes it for 10 yards. Hester dives for one and then drops a reverse screen. On third and nine, Russell misses the often forgotten David Jones in the paint. Colt David skins the crossbar. 27-24 LSU.

-Tennessee also gets 10 on their first play from scrimmage off of a pass to Riggs in the flat. Riggs then takes a draw play to the outside for six or seven yards with the help of a holding. Riggs takes it into the three to move the chains and then again to the one. Clausen gets stuffed, but Riggs finds the paydirt. 30-27 Tennessee, final.

-There are some things that LSU fans can point to that lead to Tennessee winning the game, despite a poor performance in the first half. LSU’s touchdowns were largely fluky. Les Miles, Jimbo Fisher, and Bo Pelini called a good game but the execution on the field just wasn’t enough, which is what happens when your players have spent the last month sheltering loved ones, searching for loved ones, or just generally helping in natural disaster relief. This would be LSU’s only regular season loss in 2005 and it came in one of the most frustrating ways possible, but this was really the last time this season that we would see the Tigers play at such a low level.