LSU has experienced sporadic dips in the 11 years under coach Les Miles. This is not the first time the Tigers have fallen short of expectations, disappointed a demanding fan base or failed to play up to the standards their predecessors have set.

But not since the days of Gerry DiNardo has LSU cratered as severely as they have in the past three weeks. An embarrassing 38-17 defeat at the hands of Ole Miss wasn’t just LSU’s third straight loss, it was the third consecutive dismantling of a team that peaked less than a month ago as the No. 2 team in the country.

The Tigers are still 7-3, but they’re at their lowest point in Miles’ tenure, and the coach’s job has never been in the kind of peril it is now.


  • Les Miles is on the hot seat: Whether he should be or not is debatable, but the fact that Miles is coaching for his job no longer appears to be a matter of opinion. Rumors surfaced last week that support was dwindling among LSU power brokers, and what backing Miles has was surely eroded by the Tigers’ ugliest loss of the year.
  • The Tigers are an undisciplined football team: That much was made clear early in Oxford. A busted coverage on the first play of the game set up an Ole Miss field goal. Then LSU’s first play from scrimmage, a 59-yard run by Leonard Fournette, was called back because of a holding penalty. And so it went for most of the game. The Tigers were penalized 13 times in the loss, including 10 flags in the first half. Sloppiness can be excused when it comes in rare blips, but LSU’s problems are ongoing and far too frequent for this stage of the season. They are the most penalized team in the league.
  • This isn’t an Alabama problem: Though players and coaches denied it, speculation after the Arkansas loss was that LSU was suffering from a Bama-induced hangover. The theory makes sense, but the Tigers’ inability to exorcise the Saban-sized demon doesn’t satisfactorily explain their poor play two weeks later. The troubling truth is that the problems run deeper.
  • LSU’s offensive line is a mess: Half the time Leonard Fournette gets the ball, he looks like a man in a firing line trying to dodge bullets. A season’s worth of wear and tear might have slowed the mighty sophomore by half step, but he’s been given little chance to succeed behind the Tigers’ patchwork offensive line. LSU was already struggling upfront, but the problems were exacerbated Saturday by the absence of OL Jerald Hawkins, who missed the game due to an ankle injury. That forced the shift of Vadal Alexander to left tackle and the insertion of true freshman Toby Weathersby into the starting lineup. Compound that with injury issues at tight end and fullback and it becomes clear why LSU’s former Heisman frontrunner has quickly become an afterthought.
  • The Tigers have numerous issues on defense: In losses to Alabama and Arkansas, LSU was gashed by big, powerful offensive lines and highly talented tailbacks. Chad Kelly’s brutal efficiency Saturday proved that the run defense isn’t alone in its struggles. Against Ole Miss, the Tigers failed to generate a meaningful, consistent pass rush, and the secondary too often got lost in coverage.


Offense: (D) — If ever there was a game in which the box score told an inaccurate story, here it was. Fournette went over 100 yards, and Brandon Harris threw for more than 300, and yet the Tigers got embarrassed. Penalties, inconsistent play from Harris and seven Rebels tackles in the LSU backfield kept the Tigers on their heels most of the game.

Defense: (D) — The Tigers simply didn’t do anything well. In need of a stop after the offense clawed to within 24-17, LSU allowed Ole Miss to smoothly drive 82 yards for a score in the third quarter, and the Tigers never threatened again. They’ve surrendered at least 30 points and 400 yards in all three losses during the current skid.

Special Teams: (C) — For one of the few times this year, kick return coverage wasn’t a problem for LSU, but Trent Domingue missed his first field goal of the season.

Coaching: (F) — It’s unfair to pin all of LSU’s woes on the coaching staff. At some point players have to be trusted to execute, and no coach can prevent all mental gaffes. But by and large, LSU’s difficulties fall under the umbrella of focus, discipline and attention to detail, and those are most assuredly the domain of the head coach. The Tigers aren’t playing like a team that’s given up, but they are playing like a team without a plan.

Overall: (F) — LSU finished with impressive yardage totals and held the SEC’s most dynamic offense to nearly 100 yards less than its average output. Yet none of that matters even a little bit, because the Tigers were plainly and thoroughly beaten in all facets of the game. At the most critical point in the season, this is a team searching for answers – and coming up with none.


It’s difficult to know what the game plan was because the Tigers couldn’t get out of their own way long enough to execute it. They appeared determined to return to the power game that had worked so well prior to the Alabama game, but were beset by a toxic cocktail of ineffectiveness and penalties that led to a 24-point first-half deficit.


  • Nobody: We could use this space to give Deion Jones a half-hearted pat on the back for his 14 tackles, or throw Fournette some love out of sympathy, but it would feel disingenuous. No accolades are deserved after what transpired on Saturday.


  • RB Nick Brosette suffered an ACL injury in the third quarter and did not return.
  • WR Travin Dural suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return.
  • LT Jerald Hawkins (ankle) did not play.
  • TE DeSean Smith (undisclosed) did not dress out.
  • FB John David Moore (leg) did not dress out.
  • TE Dillon Gordon (Achilles) did not dress out.