This has been a fairly eventful Saturday. When I left for Taco Mac for lunch, that noted journalist Kirk Herbstreit was reporting that Les Miles was going to take the Michigan job and bring the highly-capable John Tenuta with him. When I returned, Miles had announced (in vague terms that later became more resolute when he was talking to - irony alert - Michigan grad Tracy Wolfson) that he is staying at LSU. Part of me thinks that this is all some sort of ruse on the part of Miles and LSU to reduce the distraction before their biggest game of the year, with the ancillary benefit being that they can embarrass the Mouse and Herbstreit. (Oh, the emotions of college football!) On the other hand, Michigan (like the rest of the Big Ten) is not in the ballpark of the major SEC powers in terms of paying for coaches and Miles might have decided that he didn't want to come into a situation where the former coach and university president are still pining for a guy who just went 6-6 and thinks that offense is an optional part of football. In other words, Michigan might have f***ed up a situation where it had a perfect candidate who is 32-6 in the SEC and desperately wanted to take the Michigan job.
We're ten minutes into the SECCG and Tennessee is up 7-6. The Vols, feeling that they had been insufficiently committed to creamsicle orange this year, have broken out the Tony Robinson orange pants. They looked excellent on their first drive, picking on an LSU defense that has been a shell of itself as injuries have kicked in in the second half of the year. I'm dreading a Tennessee-Virginia Tech combo of victories today, sending meth heads across Appalachia for celebratory dinners at the local Golden Corral. (My wife the psychologist points out that meth heads don't eat because meth acts as a diet pill. Stupid facts getting in the way of my bitter rant.) LSU's offense has looked good so far with the Perrilloux offense. As a Michigan fan, it's mind-blowing to see a team adapt its offensive approach to the talent available. (Expect a series of pining remarks over the next several hours or years.)
Tennessee just punted on 4th and five from the 37. They gained 23 yards of field position in a game in which their offense is much better than their defense. Lloyd is probably furiously dialling Bill Martin to say that he was going after the wrong coach in the Championship Game. I'm rooting against Tennessee for a variety reasons and their excessively conservative coach is one of them. In case you were wondering, the other reasons are: (1) they were insanely lucky this year; (2) no SEC Champion should have a defense this weak; and (3) they're my least favorite team in the SEC. Why are the Vols my least favorite team in the conference? Prepare for another numbered list: (1) very white fan base; (2) laying down in the 1998 Orange Bowl; (3) school that produced both Albert Haynesworth and Leonard Little (kinda like West Virginia giving the world Chris Henry and Pacman Jones); and (4) Phil Fulmer...ask any Alabama fan.
My 14-month old son just made a orange poop. A good sign for the Vols. Also a good sign for the Vols: LSU running behind the shuffling fullback on 4th and 1.
LSU's defense is playing better this week and they have in the past month.
LSU just faced a third and 35 from their own five-yard line. Did anyone else have a flashback to the '89 Miami-Notre Dame game? No? Just me? I'm a nerd? Can't disagree.
I really like Erik Ainge's playfakes. His pocket sense is also excellent, as evidenced by the fact that he's been sacked only three times all year. If only he was a little better at, you know, throwing the ball.
Is it just me, or does Tennessee have a lot more fans in the Dome than LSU? Were LSU fans reluctant to travel after losing last week and all the rumors that their head coach and defensive coordinator had one foot out the door?
Perrilloux looked very good on the last drive of the first half (with an insane catch from Dominique Byrd thrown in for good measure), but LSU bogged down in the red zone (again) and Colt David missed a short field goal. What is it about kickers becoming incontinent against Tennessee? This should be another reason for me to hate them. Fulmer is clapping on the sideline with that "born on third base and think I hit a triple" grin on his face. 7-6 Vols at the half despite being outgained 273-95 in the first half and not forcing a turnover. Everything sucks right now.
It's interesting that Tennessee has one experienced player in its secondary - Jonathan Hefney - and he was at fault letting Brandon LaFell get open for a long gain on third down. More conventionally, Eric Berry was at fault on the touchdown, underestimating Perrilloux's arm. Perrilloux's performance is driving LSU towards the top five in the poll next August.
Is LSU the only team to fall for the IQSD this year? Come to think of it, Georgia Tech ran that play very well with Tashard Choice and Arkansas obviously did well with Darren McFadden in the Wildcat formation. Maybe the lesson is just that Michigan has no idea how to coach plays with mobile quarterbacks.
Ha! Tennessee can miss field goals as well! And no false starts to save them.
Taking a little break for the little guy to watch Dragontales and Thomas the Train. on Sprout. 13-7 LSU and Trindon Holliday just fumbled.
Der Wife und der grandparents are upstairs putting Junior to bed, so we're back. The Vols are up 14-13 and Perrilloux is either getting medical attention under a tent on the sidelines or he's involved in a Jewish wedding.
Gary Danielson has been on the ball tonight. One insightful comment after the other. He just pointed out that Bo Pelini smartly moved to a three-man line because of Glenn Dorsey's injury and that he probably wishes he would have made the same move last week. Danielson also immediately diagnosed Perrilloux's mistake on the interception to Eric Berry, which initially looked like a dreadful panic throw, but after looking at the replay, it was actually Perrilloux thinking one thing and his receiver thinking another.
As much as I like Les Miles and this LSU team, this game is yet another instance in which they look to be less than the sum of their parts. They're way ahead in terms of yardage (and were at the half before their turnovers and they were still losing), they haven't had any major special teams breakdowns other than one missed field goal, and yet they're losing.
Eric Berry is having a helluva game. If he were a white linebacker in the Big Ten, Brent Musberger would have already soiled himself.
LSU's receivers have trouble getting lined up correctly. After the Tigers lost out on a touchdown last week because of the receivers lining up illegally, I'm surprised to see them make the same mistake again.
Fake punt? From his own territory? Nope, we can't have that guy at Michigan.
Please note that I said that part about not throwing especially well about Ainge before the pick-six. And nice job by Danielson pointing out that there was an open receiver over the middle for a first down. Danielson isn't forgiven for his Gainesville Gary performance in this game last year, but he's sharp as an analyst.
Am I the only one who thinks that this business of coaches reading the defense for their quarterbacks and signalling in play changes after the offense is already lined up is a little girly? I know that everyone does it, but can't we teach quarterbacks to read a defense themselves? Ainge is a four-year starter and yet his coaches emasculate him by doing all of his pre-snap reads for him.
LSU's defensive ends are beating the Tennessee tackles regularly, but Ainge's sense for how long he has to throw is too good. The Vols' tackles did a nice job on fourth down to give Ainge plenty of time, but Ainge threw the ball behind his receiver and the receiver dropped the ball.
Doesn't the referee know that a punter falling over a rusher on the ground near him is running into the kicker in the Georgia Dome?
For all the talk about Perrilloux being a liability for LSU and likely to make mistakes, Erik Ainge made the two big mistakes that decided the game.
LSU killed the game off with a naked bootleg and then an option. Michigan would have run the ball between the tackles three times and put the game in the hands of the defense, regardless of how good the defense is. I warned you that I'd be stuck on the "Carr doesn't do that" note all day.
Danielson just said that LSU would be playing for the national title if not for the chopblock by Auburn. Good for Danielson. That play can't be brought up enough.