It. Still. Hurts.
A loss that will take some time to forget
By Carter BryantPosted Nov 7, 2012
The Alabama Crimson Tide silenced the roar of Tiger Stadium last Saturday night. Tailback T.J. Yeldon might as well have punched the teeth out of every fan in the student section when he scored the game-winning touchdown.
We love to point fingers and place blame on somebody, but no one is at fault for LSU’s loss. Les Miles’ failed tricks and gutsy calls were not the reason LSU lost.
There was collective groan across Tiger Stadium when a fake field goal was called in the first quarter. The play was awful. A Brad Wing pass to kicker Drew Alleman to gain 12 yards was more idiotic than texting Snooki for life advice. But it would have been a 47-yard field goal, and Alleman had been shaky from longer distances. A punt would have been fine, but it was still early enough to take a chance.
The third quarter onside kick also was a gutsy call considering LSU had just cut the score to four points. But the play was open. The front line of the Alabama kickoff team was 15 yards away from the ball when it had to travel only 10 yards. Unfortunately, kickoff specialist James Hairston touched the ball a hair too early.
The fourth-and-1 sneak with Spencer Ware at quarterback wasn’t horrible either. LSU was up 17-14 and had the football at the Alabama 24 in the fourth quarter. A field goal would have been from 41 yards, which is no sure thing.
The formation with Ware at quarterback had worked this season, but the play was predictable. Maybe next time Ware should fake the run and throw it, much like former Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden did in Tiger Stadium in 2007. Ware is a former quarterback and threw a touchdown pass his freshman year.
There is no excuse for Alleman missing the field goal before Alabama’s final drive. The faked field goal and fourth-down call could have hurt his confidence. Some slack must be given to Alleman because he was the only one to score on the Crimson Tide last year.
LSU’s vaunted defense had its chance to save Alleman’s mistake. But the Tigers allowed the Crimson Tide to go 75 yards in 49 seconds to score the game-winning touchdown.
Elite defenses should be judged not by how many stops they make, but if they make stops when it matters the most. LSU’s defense failed to do so on the most important drive of the season.
But the drive had as much to do with Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier as anybody. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis had his “Mustang” package on the field for the final drive, and Nussmeier attacked all its weaknesses.
On the second play of the drive, Nussmeier called a corner route for receiver Kevin Norwood that was complete for 15 yards. Micah Eugene was defending him in the slot. Last year, Tyrann Mathieu played the position Eugene now plays in “Mustang.” Mathieu was attacked on the same route by the same receiver in the BCS National Championship Game.
The game-winning touchdown was a perfect call as well. Alabama threw a screen into the direction of the blitz to their talented freshman running back. Texas A&M ran the same screen to junior Ben Malena three weeks ago versus a blitzing LSU defense for a touchdown that was voided by a bad penalty.
Nussmeier made all the right calls, particularly on those two plays. Chavis might have been a little conservative early on the drive, but he had his best formation and playmakers on the field. It just didn’t work.
LSU had its opportunities, and the Tigers made mistakes all over the field. In a battle between two elite teams, though, it sometimes comes down to a special player making clutch plays. A.J. McCarron was that guy for the Tide.
The Tigers had plenty of good fortune. Zach Mettenberger would have topped every headline if LSU had won. He shredded the nation’s top defense with 298 yards passing. His receivers finally held on to the ball, and his pass protection was amazing.
LSU also capitalized on some Alabama mistakes. McCarron missed a wide-open Amari Cooper for an early touchdown in the first quarter. LSU fullback J.C. Copeland lost a fumble, but the play was called back for illegal procedure against Tigers.
As painful as it may be, LSU fans must swallow their tongue and remember this as a special night in Tiger Stadium. This was no one’s fault. Last year, the Tigers made the clutch plays to win in Tuscaloosa. This year, the Crimson Tide flipped the script in Baton Rouge.
The real blame falls on the college football gods because there will be no part two in Miami.