LSU trying to recover after emotionally draining setback

By David Moorman  |   Tuesday, November 11, 2008  |  Comments( 1 )

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Talk about a letdown. If you're LSU, do you prepare for Troy this week after having gone toe-to-toe with top-ranked Alabama and your former coach Nick Saban?

Commentary: LSU’s third loss in nine games counts just as much as the others, but this was far different than the 50-plus points fiasco against Florida and Georgia. The Tigers had opportunities to beat Alabama, but indicative of a No. 1, undefeated team, the Crimson Tide managed to wriggle free in overtime, 27-21, last Saturday.

It wasn’t without a fight, though. LSU’s lines, which received preseason acclaim but have been suspect during the season, exerted their influence. The Tigers rushed for 201 yards against a defense that had ranked second nationally in allowing just 65.6 rushing yards per game.

Junior running back Charles Scott had 92 of those yards and two rushing touchdowns, or double the total Alabama had allowed all season.

Alabama stepped up its second-half run defense and forced redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee to beat it through the air. The inexperienced Lee wasn’t up to the task. In all, he threw four interceptions, including three to safety Rashad Johnson.

Johnson returned one for a 54-yard touchdown that knotted the halftime score at 14-14. Johnson also intercepted a third-down overtime pass in the end zone that gave Alabama possession. The Crimson Tide won the game on John Parker Wilson’s 1-yard quarterback sneak.

Wilson had his troubles, too, against LSU. He threw an interception, but unlike Lee, Wilson rarely put his team in bad situations.

Lee has had six interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, partly because many of the passes are so wildly off the mark that no LSU player is near the defender who intercepts.

Lee’s teammates and head coach, Les Miles, continue to defend Lee. Much to his credit, Lee has maturely handled the public criticism that has come his way. He has patiently dealt with the media, as he did after the emotional loss to Alabama.

Lee basically is all LSU has at quarterback, a situation borne from the offseason dismissal of junior Ryan Perrilloux, whose off-the-field woes forced his departure. Sophomore Andrew Hatch has missed two games with a lower leg injury and should miss a third Saturday. True freshman Jordan Jefferson has minimum experience, and at this point, it’s doubtful he can give LSU anything more than Lee even if Miles said Jefferson will play against Troy.

The situation is similar to what happened in 1994, the year after Saban led LSU to the first of its two BCS national titles. Playing behind quarterback Marcus Randall, who maxed out his talent, and an inexperienced JaMarcus Russell, LSU lost three games.

If LSU can follow its 2007 crown with an equal number of losses, the Tigers will have done well.

Fan Pulse: Homecoming was moved to the Troy game, which was originally scheduled earlier in the year but postponed after the widespread destruction of Hurricane Gustav. It comes at a good time to get everyone’s minds off the disappointment of losing to Alabama.

Injury Update: Hatch remains out with his lower leg injury suffered against Georgia. Center Brett Helm should be back after an undisclosed injury sidelined him against Alabama.
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About David Moorman

Dave Moormann is an award-winning journalist, who has covered LSU athletics since 1980. He began his coverage with the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he was a writer and editor from 1980-98. In 1996, he authored a book on the history of LSU football entitled, "Fighting Tigers Handbook: Stories, Stats...
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