From the coach's demeanor in Saturday's postgame press conference, unfortunately he does now.
The Tigers, defending national champions and owner of the most feared defensive unit in college football just a year ago, were at the mercy of the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday as the nation's third-ranked team had their way with the preseason SEC Western Division favorite.
Favorites no more as LSU dropped
its second game in three outings and are all but out of the race to return to
While coaches, players and most
especially fans are downtrodden after the thrashing between the hedges last
Saturday, this marks the dawn of a new chapter in the Nick Saban era at LSU – in
a number of ways. While the national championship buzz was officially pronounced
over in the wake of a 10-9 loss to
Being in the midst of players
immediately following the game, the looks on the faces of the Tigers as they
left the field told it all. Disappointment, embarrassment and regret clouded the
minds of the players as they field off the field single file up a tunnel as
The most distressed look of all was the one painted across the face of Saban, who was as somber (not angry) as many had ever seen him, granted it was the most points ever allowed by a Saban-coached team. A late, fourth quarter touchdown saved these Tigers from enduring the worst loss of the Saban era. That honor belongs to the 2001 Tigers, who were beaten 44-15 by the Florida Gators, granted that team went on to win the SEC title.
At any rate, Saban's eerily calm demeanor left a press room near speechless as the head coach compared Saturday's loss to an unexpected curveball. He said he was disappointed in the way his team played, but most of all shocked. He explained the fact the Tigers had had the best week of practice, in his opinion, of the season leading up to Saturday's debacle.
While Saban and his team were
tormented by the horror of what transpired for 60 minutes on a Saturday
afternoon in rural southern
In what was a ritual thrashing of the head coach in the wake of lopsided losses, most especially under Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo, the mood on this night was one of (surprisingly) patience and maturity on the part of the fans. Maybe a cool customer of the likes of Saban and a national title under its collective belt has helped transform the mob into a reasonable group.
Unlike in the past, even in the
Saban era (memories of Ole Miss 2001), callers were not asking for the coaches
job nor were they trashing players or assistant coaches. The mood seemed to turn
toward one much similar to that of
They were outplayed in every phase of the game – PERIOD.
LSU's offense was downright anemic
and the defense, which the Tigers pride themselves under Saban, was as porous as
ever. Defensively, Saturday's game brought back memories of that 2001 loss to
The Tiger running game was a far
cry from the last meeting with
While these numbers reflect badly on the Tiger runners, the blame of these failures should be contributed largely on the poor play of the offensive line. The front five failed to open up holes, hold blocks long enough nor did they offer even average protection for LSU quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell, who were sacked a combined six times in the game.
And that's just the offense.
Defensively, the front four got
little to no pass rush and David Greene had all day to pick apart an
underachieving secondary. Cornerbacks Corey Webster and Travis Daniels were hung
out to dry time and again as Greene set a
And adding insult to injury, when LSU did score late in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Randall to Xavier Carter, Chris Jackson (a.k.a. Captain Hook) missed the extra point. LSU has now missed at least one extra point in each of the last four games.
What this all boils down to, the Tigers are not nearly as good as everyone thought going into this season. However, they are not as bad as some people are saying right now. This is still a very talented, inexperienced, but talented football team that needs more time to find the continuity and consistency, most especially on offense.
Defensively, Saban will continue to
tweak the equation until he gets it right. But the offensive woes can only come
with time. Unfortunately, a road date at
After watching the play of Chris Leak, who is undoubtedly the best quarterback in the league, and watching how Greene torched the Tiger defense, LSU will likely endure much of the same in The Swamp.
But after that, the schedule
lightens up considerably and the Tigers will be able to cure what ails them.
Lesser opponents come into Tiger Stadium for four consecutive games and in that
time, LSU should be able to work out the kinks before the last test of the
season comes on the day after Thanksgiving in
While Tiger Rag predicted LSU would
go 10-1, not win the SEC title, but still be a BCS at-large team, that
prognostication is being altered a bit. The Tigers should go 8-3 and end up,
most probably back in
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag. He can be reached by e-mail at