Under career leaders for yards, completions, and touchdowns, the names Tommy Hodson, Jeff Wickersham, and JaMarcus Russell will still be at the top. Jamie Howard, Herb Tyler, Rohan Davey, and even Matt Mauck's names aren't likely to slide from their current positions.
Matt Flynn's name isn't going to
appear in many, if any, of the career-leader categories, but it doesn't really
need to in the grand scheme of things. In an age of ‘what did you do this year'
that has become a permanent fixture of college football for most, Flynn simply
needs to do what Mauck did in 2003 to be remembered forever as a great by the
LSU faithful – win a national championship. His game-winning touchdown pass to
Demetrius Byrd with one second remaining on the clock against
With time running out, LSU down by one, and fans clamoring for him to snap the ball, Flynn did so with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter. As the seconds continued to disappear, he dropped back, looked to his left, launched a perfect pass to the back of the end zone and hit Byrd on a 22-yard strike that kept LSU's 2007 conference and national championship hopes alive.
The touchdown pass – Flynn's career game-high tying third of the night – put him over the 300-yard mark for the first time in his career. He ended up completing 22 of 34 passes for 319 yards and would have had nearly, if not over, 400 yards passing if not for some dropped passes and his lone interception of the contest.
Truthfully, the interception should
in no way be attributed to Flynn, who found Brandon LaFell wide-open for what
should have been a gain of at least 35 yards. Instead, LaFell bobbled the pass
and somehow scooped it right into the hands of
Flynn was also sacked twice, but still managed to add 34 rushing yards to his night's total, which included carries of 10 and seven yards on the game-winning drive.
Just as he was supposed to, Flynn deflected criticism of LaFell, whose drops have cost LSU dearly in the last few weeks. Additionally, as the team's leader, he took it upon his shoulders to explain the situation to his fellow Tigers prior to LSU's final possession of the night.
"Well, we got good field position," Flynn said of the kickoff that signaled the Tigers last chance to eke out a victory. "I just told everyone before we went out onto the field, you know I said, ‘We don't lose here in Tiger Stadium.' I just told them that. There was no doubt in those guys' eyes…ever…ever. They just believed, and we went out, just started moving the ball, run and pass, and it just turned out.
"We made a pretty risky call there at the end, called a go route, and, you know, that's the thing about this coaching staff – they have faith in us. You can't describe that for a coach to have that much confidence in the players. Byrd just made an unbelievable play. I kind of put it out there. It was good coverage and put it in that back pylon, and he made a winning play."
According to Flynn, there was never any question that a pass was going to be thrown. There wasn't going to be another short run and a timeout to set up a game-winning boot.
"I knew we were in field goal range," Flynn said. "That's why we called three verticals. We weren't going to catch it inbounds; we were going to throw it in the endzone, take a shot."
Even had the pass been incomplete,
Flynn is confident there would still have been a second left on the clock to
allow a potential game-winning field goal. Had Byrd dropped the pass straight to
the ground, had the pass been deflected and gone straight to the ground, maybe
so. But if the ball gets tipped up into the air, is bobbled a couple of times
and dropped, or would have been deflected just a few yards out of bounds, the
conversations following the game would have been solely based upon poor clock
management. Some dialogues would have potentially revolved around the real
estate market in
"I'm probably selling my house," LSU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pellini said when asked what would have happened if things hadn't worked out. "Like I said, you're at the mercy of the clock operator. And I don't think when they made the call, I don't think that they anticipated that the clock was going to run down that far. Matt's " Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected," and maybe to a fault. Like I said, it was a gamble that won. We won on it. I had a tremendous amount of confidence that Colt (David) was going to make the field goal anyway, but, you know, I'm glad it didn't come down to that."
As for Flynn, he's just going to continue to shutout the comments – positive and negative – from those outside the program and focus on the task at hand. That focus isn't on being at the top in the record books, it's on continuing to improve and winning.
"I told these guys at halftime, I got in front of the line and all of the guys and told them, ‘Let's make this half define our season," Flynn said. "Let's make this half define who our offense is. Let's come up and play. We've been shooting ourselves in the foot and killing ourselves.' And I told them, I said, ‘Let's end that tonight. Let's end that right here.'"
For the first time in a while, Flynn looked poised, looked confident. He looked like one of those quarterbacks in the record books that all the fans remember.