Thursday, January 12, 2012

Les Miles let LSU down by not playing Jarrett Lee @ Alabama


Looking back at the 2011-2012, LSU Fighting Tigers football season, there is a great sense of pride and joy at the accomplishments. The top team in the land for most of the season, 13-0 at one point. Undisputed No. 1 and much feared for much of the year. But alas a final test failed.

Alabama is a great team -- and they showed it in the BCS Championship Game. But who would have thought they were 21 points better than an LSU team that had been averaging more than 38 points a game?

We all know what happened throughout the season and even before it. Starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson was having an awesome spring camp and people said he would likely start the season. Then came the bar fight. Then Jarrett Lee stepped in and led the Tigers to 8 straight victories in convincing fashion.

When the team traveled to Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, Lee was shaky. He threw two bad interceptions, one which leading to 3 points. Then that was it. He was benched.

"I just felt we could get something going with Lee," coach Les Miles said. It was a plausible excuse. Jefferson was the more mobile of the quarterback and took vicious hits that he surprisingly got up from each and every play.

The next game and so on, Jefferson would start. The Tigers continued to roll. But then things got weird. The Tigers would be up big in the third quarter and then the fourth, yet Jefferson wouldn't see any playing time.

At first it was proper to dismiss this as "feeling Jefferson out" for the long haul. Lee had started in eight straight games. It was time to let Jefferson get off a little bit.
But then what was once construed as weird, seemed more and more just down right mean. The end of the Arkansas game with the Tigers up by 30-some points, Lee stayed in until the final seconds. It didn't feel right to the Tiger faithful. That game was Senior Day, the last time Lee or Jefferson would play in Tiger Stadium.

 Same thing against Georgia. Tigers were up big and Lee came in only to shake hands as the final seconds ticked.
By then it was clear that either Lee had did something wrong, or Miles had simply lost faith in a young man that had given his all to the school and program.

Even now, the Tiger faithful still don't know what really happened as to why Lee didn't see the field late in the season. Miles had always challenged both quarterbacks to compete against each other, only this time he had clearly picked a winner.

Still, as any coach, he had the right to play whoever he deemed best suited to provide a spark.

So in the Alabama game, the LSU faithful, the Alabama faithful, the TV folks, the whole world, knew that Jefferson was struggling so bad that he would'nt be able to run or throw his way out of this one.

The Bama defense had bore down on him and had knew his every move. It was clearly time for  a change. Everyone knew it. But Miles. Even former NFL quarterback and current TV analyst Shawn King knew it was time for a change. Not Miles.

His excuses, this time, don't fly. The Tigers didn't cross midfield til midway through the fourth quarter. Lee should have been in midway through the third.

No good reason exists as to why Miles didn't play Lee. And the damage goes beyond one blemish on a football record. Recruits and players already on the squad can't help but think, 'Wow, this man has shown that if you mess up one time, in one game, you could be benched for the reason of the season.'

LSU lost more than a game when it lost to Alabama. In alot of ways, it lost respect for itself.

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