Thomas' Take: Grading Ole Miss

LSU ran out of time in Oxford and after reviewing the film Scouting Analyst Jason Thomas hands out his grades on the Tigers.

In all my years of watching college football, I’ve never seen anything remotely similar to what transpired Saturday afternoon at Ole Miss. The funny thing about football is that it’s so repetitive most of the time. Yet, there was nothing common about Saturday’s game.


Coaches don’t normally get grades in this column, but after yesterday’s showing it’s only fair. The game plan was bad. The time management was beyond bad. The coaches did not even attempt to do what everyone felt they needed to do to win this game and yet they still had a chance to steal one from the Rebels but blew it.


LSU was supposed to run the football. LSU was supposed to control the clock and try and keep Dexter McCluster and company off of the field. They did not.


It’s time for the LSU coaching staff to swallow some pride, and start breaking some tendencies.


Finally, let me dispel this notion suggested that the failure of this game somehow falls on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Jefferson came out and played clearly hurt. He led the Tigers on a final drive that could’ve culminated in the tying score. When the on-side kick was recovered, he got the Tigers in field goal position. He threw one bad pass Saturday.


Two of the sacks he took were his fault, but the last one that people are focused on was a foolish call by the coaching staff. The young quarterback should’ve never been in that position. Don’t slander the kid for trying to make a play.


The bottom line is that with 27 seconds left yesterday Stevan Ridley was tackled on a screen play out in the flat. LSU should’ve called a timeout immediately.


Instead, the timeout was not called until only nine seconds remained in the game. Les Miles says that he called timeout but was unaware that the clock was still rolling. What about the other 10-plus coaches who have a headset on? Did not one of them realize that the clock was still ticking? The Hail Mary pass was completed, but there was so much confusion on the sideline that the field goal unit wasn’t ready, and no one had a clue as to what play to run.


That is the fault of the coaching staff.


Coaching Grade F



Jordan Jefferson played hurt, and started poorly. The interception early in the first quarter was a poorly thrown ball. He did recover and managed the game well enough to win. Again it’s difficult to manage a game when there are numerous packages being called, and the plays are being sent on to the field with about 10 seconds to go before the play clock expires.


He was extremely limited with his mobility which again begs the question why anyone would have him running an option play. As you can imagine, the option plays were worse than normal.


Jefferson finished the game with 19 completions on 37 attempts. I counted five dropped ball by Brandon LaFell. One of those drops was a first down on a third and long. Another one probably would’ve been a touchdown.


Jefferson did throw two touchdowns and one interception, and he threw for a total of 250 yards. For a hurt quarterback with little mobility and no players to dump the ball to, he played a hell of a game. There was a costly sack he took at the end of the game. I still think that he should’ve never been in a passing situation, but he did take the sack so he must man up.


He did throw the one interception. People that think that LSU needs another quarterback just don’t get it. If he’s healthy, they may beat Alabama. If LSU runs the ball late yesterday afternoon, then Josh Jasper either wins or loses the game for the Tigers.


Grade B


Running Backs

Keiland Williams finished the game with 11 carries for 40 yards. His numbers went down as the game went on though. Regardless, he was running with good power and good vision until he got hurt.


Again the experts that said that Williams couldn’t be a factor back, and couldn’t find the holes were wrong. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt. He did fumble the ball before his ankle got twisted, and it was costly.


Russell Shepard had six carries for 20 yards and Stevan Ridley had one carry for 12 yards. Can’t grade the backs, because despite what was said by the coaching staff, they didn’t get nearly enough touches.


Grade  Incomplete


Wide Receivers

It was a solid outing for the receivers as a whole, but one of Brandon LaFell’s worst games in quite some time. Terrance Tolliver led the way with five catches for 107 yards.

Rueben Randle grabbed a pair of touchdowns against the Rebels

Rueben Randle had two catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns. It was a glimpse of what the future holds for this young man if LSU can get their offense straightened out.


LaFell finished the game with five grabs for 75 yards. As stated previously, he did drop five balls, and one looked to be a sure touchdown. However, the story should’ve ended well for LaFell. After all, he recovered the on-side kick, and caught the screen pass that put LSU in field goal range.


It would’ve been a great story had LSU kicked the field goal.


Grade C+


Offensive Line

It’s hard to grade the offensive line objectively. There were so many plays where the blitzes were so intense that there were not enough linemen to block defenders.


The line did a good job throughout the game of opening up running lanes for the LSU tailbacks. Then again, Ole Miss might’ve been keying so much on the pass that those lanes may have just appeared.


It was clear that LSU was intent on throwing the football, and Ole Miss was happy to send blitzers on almost every play.


Ole Miss recorded four sacks and two of them were Jordan Jefferson’s fault. The line played alright, but they took a step back from the improvement they had made up to this point in the season.


Grade C


Defensive Line

No sacks for LSU. The defensive line was getting a decent push early in the game, but by the second half there was nothing. They weren’t clogging up the running lanes, and they weren’t rushing the passer.


They may have been tired. They were on the field an awful long time. Dexter McCluster had his way Saturday against all levels of the LSU defense.


Grade C-



This is another group that was dominated by the Ole Miss offense. Naturally, you have to give McCluster credit. He is a great athlete and Houston Nutt did a good job of getting him a variety of touches. Nevertheless, the Ole Miss offense marched the ball up and down the field at will on Saturday.


Were it not for an inability to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns, there would be no discussion about poor time management or shady play calling.


Give the LSU defense some credit. They did keep Ole Miss from scoring touchdowns. The linebackers seemed to be on their heels for most of the game.


Grade C-


Defensive Backs

This is the strength of the LSU football team. These guys are bad to the bone, and have played that way much of the season.

Ole Miss celebrates its second straight win over LSU

Saturday, however, they were just as confused and inept as every other level of the LSU defense. Patrick Peterson struggled. Chad Jones was not making big hits, but rather grasping for shoelaces. Brandon Taylor was not allowed to play much. Chris Hawkins was beaten several times. Again everyone seemed to be reacting rather than attacking.


What’s really weird about the defensive effort is that Ole Miss did exactly what they’ve been doing all year. They threw the ball primarily to Shay Hodge, but no one on the LSU defense paid him much attention.


They ran with Dexter McCluster and Brandon Bolden and when Hodge wasn’t open on a pass play, they dumped the ball off to the tailbacks. They did exactly what I, and many others thought they would do.


LSU didn’t seem to have a game plan to stop any of the playmakers on the Ole Miss offense.


Grade D+


Special Teams

Josh Jasper kicked a 50 yard field goal. Derek Helton punted well. LSU blocked an Ole Miss field goal and returned it for a touchdown.


Patrick Peterson was the one who grabbed the loose ball and ran it in. It was definitely the highlight of his day.


Special teams would have gotten a slam dunk A+ were it not for a poorly played punt by Trindon Holliday and another by Chad Jones.


Grade B+

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