DEVILLE: Miles goes "all-in" in Auburn win

It's pretty safe to say, shocking would be an understatement.

Most of the 92,630 in Tiger Stadium Saturday night never saw it coming. It was likely the game was going to be decided by the right foot of Colt David.


Les Miles had other plans.


Trailing 24-23 to Auburn with under 20 seconds left in the game, Miles went for it all.


Expecting a running play to set up what would have been a 40-something-yard field goal, quarterback Matt Flynn dropped back to pass. As the ball descended on the back of the end zone, you could feel the stadium gasp, holding its collective breath.


The ball went between the arms of Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers and into the hands of Demetrius Byrd. Miles raced down the LSU sideline pumping his fist. Tiger fans sat shocked while Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville removed his glasses, rubbed his face in disgust, and walked toward the locker room.


"I just threw it to the back of the end zone and was going to trust Demetrius," Flynn said afterwards.


Well, it worked.


LSU tailback Jacob Hester said he was blocking a linebacker and was on the ground when Byrd made the catch. Center Brett Helms came over and grabbed Hester saying, "Look at the clock!"


There was only one second left.


In the ensuing melee, Miles fielded questions from ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe saying that was "what they had hoped to do on that play." He added that they "had the one timeout left and were ready to call it."


While fans celebrated, there was plenty of head scratching going on as to why Miles would take such a gamble. The third-year LSU coach gambled five times against Florida and it paid off every time as the Tigers won 28-24. Again Miles rolled the dice against Auburn – and won.


But just barely.


As LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini headed toward the locker room he said, "What if that pass had been incomplete. Time would have run out."


Miles said he was surprised at how long the play took to develop, but that it was what they intended to do all along.


"In the back end of the game, I had a timeout that I could call but I did not expect it to come down to one second," Miles said. "I didn't have it timed out that far. Certainly it worked right."


The media questioned Miles about his decision and the coach stuck with his story. And after further review, it shows the coach was right on.


Again, just barely.


Watching the film again Sunday morning, it was evident Miles' decision was well-calculated. Not to say it was the best call in light of the circumstances, but the replay showed there was time to spare.


The chain of events took place like this…


Flynn completed a pass to tight end Richard Dickson for a one-yard gain to the 23. At that time, there was roughly 42 seconds remaining in the game.


Flynn did not step under center until there were 13 ticks left on the clock. He took the snap from Helms with 10 seconds remaining and heaved the pass toward the end zone with eight seconds left on the clock. Byrd snared the pass with six seconds left and landed in the end zone with four ticks left on the clock. The clock continued to run as Byrd celebrated and was finally stopped with one second left.


Had he dropped the pass or it fallen incomplete, there was time to call a timeout.  An officials' replay might even have added two seconds back to the clock. In the end, none of it was necessary as Flynn and Byrd executed the play flawlessly.


Miles has been and will continue to be criticized for the bold decision to go for the end zone, considering the situation. LSU's possible shot at a national title rode on the right arm of Flynn and he delivered when it counted most.


Now, LSU is headed into a much needed open date before the trip to Tuscaloosa. Miles admitted the bye week couldn't come at a better time as eight straight games, including five against ranked opponents, have taken a toll on the Tigers.


"It is not like that was a perfect game in any way," Miles said. "It was sloppy, but played very competitively. The bye week hits us at the right time. We will take some time to rehabilitate and get healthy."


So will LSU fans after watching the last two gut-wrenching victories in Tiger Stadium.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at

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