REPORT CARD: LSU 41, Alabama 34

For the fourth game in a row, LSU needed a late comeback to come away with a win.

For the third time in four games, they got it. But they also lost a double-digit lead again and didn't make it easy on themselves. In all honesty, the Tigers haven't put together a complete game since dismantling Virginia Tech back in September and shutting out Middle Tennessee State one week later.

Against Alabama, LSU looked heads-and-shoulders above its competition, and then things went wrong. Turnovers, penalties, and big plays all snowballed and led to 24 unanswered points by the Crimson Tide; led to another deficit; led to the need for more late-game heroics in a season where many wins have been defined by them.

After seeing the Tigers take an early 17-3 lead and then letting it slip away, after watching LSU battle back to win its eighth game of the season, one has to wonder if head coach Les Miles is working on a future endorsement deal with the American Heart Association.

The public service announcement would go something like this: "Hi, I'm Les Miles, head coach for the LSU Fighting Tigers. If you're like our team's fans, you never know when life is going to have you on the edge of your seat. So, eat healthy, get plenty of exercise, and have your heart checked regularly."

Do you have a cardiologist picked out yet?

OFFENSE

A great start turned into a nightmare that Matt Flynn eventually woke up from in the second half. After starting out on fire in the first quarter, Flynn made three extremely huge blunders in the second quarter, but then rebounded to finish the day completing 24-of-44 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

With LSU's ground game somewhat stymied, the receiving corps stepped up for the Tigers and combined for 19 catches with two drops. Demetrius Byrd and Early Doucet made plays, and it was good to see Brandon LaFell get a chance to restore some confidence.

There was definitely a bit of flare to LSU's offense, including Doucet throwing and completing the first pass of his LSU career. The only thing that really caused concern was Flynn running the option and calling his own number up the middle and lowering his shoulder without a proven backup to step in, just in case something would've gone wrong.

LSU, with three turnovers, three sacks and only 87 yards on the ground, still managed 475 yards on the offensive side of the ball. But the turnovers were costly, and there were too many motion and procedure penalties.

GRADE: C+

DEFENSE

Fans saw what they wanted – aggressive, attacking, blitzing defense. It translated into seven sacks, an interception, a forced fumble that all but set up the winning score, and just 20 yards rushing on 33 attempts. Unfortunately, it also meant some big plays.

LSU allowed John Parker Wilson to complete just 14-of-40 passes, but each completion went for nearly 17 yards. Passes that went for gains of 67, 32, and 29 yards were thrown in, and three of the 14 passes went for touchdowns.

The Tigers gave up 14 points in the second half, but their tenacity in allowing just 10 points on three Flynn interceptions was commendable. Additionally, LSU surrendered just one first down to the Crimson Tide on their last three possessions of the game, forced a turnover with a fumble, and a turnover on downs.

GRADE: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS

Colt David nailed 2-of-3 field goals from 43 yards or longer. Fisher averaged 46 yards through his six punts. Josh Jasper and Andrew Crutchfield averaged 61 and 61.8 yards per kickoff, respectively.

Negatively, David had a field goal attempt blocked, and somehow Javier Arenas slipped through a plethora of white jerseys before returning a punt 61 yards to give Alabama a 10-point lead. He also averaged 21 yards each time he took the ball on a kickoff. Fisher seemed to be hurried on a few of his six punts. Arenas' punt return for a touchdown was the first LSU has given up since 1999.

Has anyone checked Chad Jones' arms to see if he can raise them above his head? If he is capable of doing so, someone please let him know how to call a fair catch and that it is okay to do so. That is one brave true freshman, and he did catch all three punts he fielded.

GRADE: B-

COACHING

With a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter, LSU had just gotten the ball back after forcing a three-and-out.

They had all the momentum on their side, and another score would have been the nail in the coffin. But the Tigers were forced to punt. Then came a roughing the passer call that led to a 67-yard touchdown for Alabama, then the first of three second quarter interceptions for Flynn.

In all, LSU committed 14 penalties for 130 yards. They allowed a team they had dead-to-rights to creep back into the game and take the lead with 24 unanswered points. They made boneheaded, undisciplined mistakes that allowed an inferior opponent to nearly take away any shot of any championship, conference or otherwise. To be sure, errors in judgment from players were a huge factor in this game being close.

"That's as many mistakes as I've seen in a football game…in my life," Les Miles said. "Maybe in a couple of seasons that I've coached. And I promise you this, that'll never happen again. I promise you that. Our football team will be coached very aggressively from this point forward."

Nine games into the season, players shouldn't be making the undisciplined choices they were making last Saturday and should know how to line up at the start of plays.

GRADE: C


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