Ah, the good old days of two years ago, when Les Miles coached like a man who already had been fired and had nothing to lose. And LSU flourished.
That was daring, dashing Les. Now we have dull, deliberate Les.
That was throwing in the end zone with seconds to play. This is field position and winning the battle of punters.
That was never hesitating on fourth down with the game on the line. This is get the game to the fourth quarter and hope the other guy screws up.
“If you punt it and go play defense, that’s a good choice,” Miles says. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
There’s nothing wrong with that if you want to spend the holidays in Orlando instead of New Orleans. Or even Pasadena.
There’s very little difference in the talent level of Miles’ 2007 national championship team and this year’s one-loss team, which is more overlooked with each passing week. The only area where LSU hasn’t played as well as the 2007 team – which was 7-1 at this point in the season, too – is quarterback.
And that’s not necessarily Jordan Jefferson’s fault. Jefferson has a better skill set than 2007 starter Matt Flynn, and has started more games in his career (at this point) than Flynn. Jefferson has been protected much of the season by a conservative game plan, with the specific goals of protecting the ball and avoiding game-turning mistakes.
What quarterback – Jefferson, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow – can play well and play with confidence with those constraints? Again, let’s not forget what happened in 2007: Flynn threw 11 interceptions (21 TDs) in 359 attempts and completed 56 percent of his passes. Decent (but certainly not great) numbers.
Jefferson has four interceptions (11 TDs) in 193 attempts (he’ll be lucky to reach 280 attempts this season) – and has completed 63.7 percent of his passes. Turn him loose, Les.
“He just has to play within the scheme of the offense,” Miles says of Jefferson. “If he does that, he’ll do fine.”