Mad Hatter’s 4th quarter calls indefensible

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I love Les Miles. He’s good for college football; he’s good for the SEC. His persona is unique and different than any one coach in the rest of the country, but Miles’ transformed into the Mad Hatter at the absolute worst time late in the fourth quarter to ultimately cost the Tigers a Chick-fil-A Bowl victory.

I was one of the few who backed Miles after his questionably aggressive style in the loss against Alabama. His onside kick; his fourth-down call or fake field goal didn’t go the Tigers’ way against the Tide. But I was okay with it, because his loose style of coaching translated into a loose style of play that ultimately helped LSU get back into the football game against Bama.

But tonight’s late fourth-quarter play calls are indefensible.

LSU is an ultra-conservative offense.  It’s Old Man Football; they run much more than they throw, and rightfully so, because Zach Mettenberger hasn’t developed into the quarterback everyone thought, yet. So, if it isn’t broke, why fix it?  That’s a question Les will be asking himself all off-season.

With 2:47 left and up 24-22 in the fourth, LSU completed an eight-yard pass to Kadron Boone. Throwing on first down was the right call, because Clemson had eight in the box and was daring the Tigers to throw it. So, then Les had 2nd and 2 and threw two straight passes – both incompletions, only to put the ball back to Clemson for a shot to win it.  And they did just that.

The running game was picking up in the second half, but LSU refused to rely on the very nature of the Tigers’ offense and game plan – the power running game – when they needed it the most.

Clemson did have three timeouts and would have had to start burning them, but you milk another minute to minute and a half off the clock. It would have left little to no time for a heroic Clemson drive.

I’m pinning this directly on the LSU coaching staff. Did Greg Studrawa and Miles really think that Mettenberger had turned the corner so much that they could totally avoid going to their bread and butter with the game on the line? Apparently so, and LSU blew a shot to win 11 games.

That’s two bowl games in a row in which Les Miles has been outcoached, and the latest he fell victim to Dabo Swinney.

I’m taking nothing away from Clemson and Tajh Boyd, because they made the plays down the stretch and got the job done.

I’ve been a huge Miles fan and apologetic, but the Mad Hatter returned at the absolute worst time against Clemson.

Photo Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

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