Commentary -

As is the case with almost any game, there were good points to the loss to LSU and there were bad aspects. The 'debate' over the game will linger until Friday, but here are some random thoughts to chew on while the Egg Bowl battle with MSU creeps up on us.

It can be difficult to gather your thoughts after watching a game like the 41-24 loss to the nation's top team. So much happens and there is only so much the brain can absorb.

As this is being written, fans are debating - mostly - why QB Brent Schaeffer was pulled right before halftime after a delay of game penalty on the Rebs. To some, the explanation that he was "rattled" - which he also said postgame - is satisfactory. To some, the move was indefensible after watching a rejuventated Schaeffer cut through LSU's vaunted defense like a knife through room temp butter.

To be honest, at the time, I guess I was in the minority of not thinking much about the switch because, frankly, I have more faith in Seth Adams not to make a mistake and to protect the ball than I do Brent, but in hindsight I was wrong as Seth threw an ill-advised pick in the back of the end zone on a play he called "stupid."

There were many big plays in the game, but that would have to go down as the biggest. Instead of being tied at halftime at 14, and having the number one team in America in their locker room with some doubt in their minds, LSU went into intermission on a high from having turned the Rebs back.

The way that drive played out and the way the Rebel defense allowed the Tigers to march down the field to open the second half, for all intents and purposes, sealed the victory for the visiting Tigers. The rest was window dressing.

While I felt the Rebels could still make a game of it, which they did, they never got the game to a one score scenario again. They never put enough pressure on LSU to make them sweat, make them worry, make them doubt, make them wriggle a little.

As long as the Rebs were two scores down, LSU stayed in a comfort zone, one they are familiar with and one they could handle. You don't get to be the number one team in America by collapsing.

While BenJarvus Green-Ellis' early fumble at the LSU 2 and Trindon Holliday's 98-yard kickoff return immediately after Marshay Green's punt return for a TD will be the focal point of many pundits, I think the game boiled down to the last few ticks of the first half and the first 4:50 of the third quarter.

That series, when the Rebs couldn't punch it in before half, and when LSU came out of intermission and marched effortlessly to a two-TD lead, left the rest of the contest an uphill battle.

And, to me, that has been a microcosm of the whole season. Not being effective in the Red Zone on offense and lapses defensively to start each half in several big games. (LSU scored on their first possession of each half, in case you have forgottten.)

Those factors left both Rebel coordinators chewing their bottom lips - figuratively - at the end of the game.

"It's been a habit, a bad habit," John Thompson said. "Maybe I preach too much to them about the start of the third quarter. I don't know. It's frustrating."

You want to know the difference in number one and 3-8? On this day, it wasn't being more physical. It wasn't having a better plan. It wasn't having glaringly superior talent - although LSU was deeper. It was execution and being more efficient. Methodical. Yes, talent and coaching are part of that equation, but our Rebels have yet to figure out how to stop beating themselves.

It would be one thing if it was coming from one player or in one area, then you could correct it, but things pop up seemingly every game in big situations. How many times is BenJarvus going to fumble in a year? You can count them on two or three fingers. But he had a most uncharacteristic and untimely cough-up deep in Tiger territory.

On the other hand, LSU got where they are by not making as many mistakes as the next guy. They were 4-4 in the Red Zone and didn't even sniff making a turnover. There was never even a close-and-almost of the Rebs picking a pass off or jarring the ball loose. The Rebels, meanwhile, threw three interceptions and lost the aforementioned fumble.

Sorry, folks, but against a team of LSU's caliber, that is game, set, match.

On the good side of the equation, there was plenty, for those who want to see the positive.

One, great atmosphere. Sure, there were too many LSU fans in OUR stadium, but full is full and our fans were ready to rumble.

Two, LSU did not run over us like a bean truck, which some anticipated. I thought our offensive line held their own against reportedly the best DL and defensive player in Glenn Dorsey in the country. We did, after all, rush for over 200 yards against the number one rush defense - allowing only 66 yards a game - in the land.

Three, people talk all the time about coaching. The finger of blame is usually pointed at them in some form or fashion after every loss. And that's probably a valid approach, but I thought our coaches put together an excellent plan on both sides of the ball against the Tigers. Hey, LSU never saw the spread offense coming and they were relegated to chasing rather than attacking. You could see LSU DC Bo Pellini with a dazed look in his eyes. He had no answers. It's a shame the Rebs didn't produce in the Red Zone because it was there for the taking.

Four, it had to be a great day for recruits - which there were many - coming to watch the Rebels. If they could not see this is something they would want to be a part of, I don't know what else would convince them.

Five, I am proud of the effort our kids gave. It would have been real easy, the way this year has gone, for them to give a halfhearted effort, but they showed their pride. They played hard for their coaches and they played hard for us. Sunday mornings are always a little easier to swallow when I know in my heart our team gave us every ounce they had to give.

Two weeks ago, i was dreading going to Starkville. I thought our season was basically over and there was a possibility of our guys mailing it in.

Now, even in the wake of another loss, I'm looking forward to it.

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