Not Good

September 10, 2006

(at LSU 45, UA 3)

The Stephen F. Austin State University football team is 0-2, having lost to Tulsa and Delta State. SFA prefers to keep the ball on the ground as reflected by a 41/18 run-pass ratio in their last game. The Lumberjacks are from the East Texas town of Nacogdoches, which bills itself as the oldest town in Texas.

Pardon me? What now? You actually want me to discuss the "game" we played this weekend? You people are sick.

It was a beat-down. A whupping. An out and out thrashing. You would've thought our team came into the stadium wearing jerseys that said We Love Hurricane Katrina.

Rebuilding teams like to call these measuring stick games. Well, Louisiana State took the measuring stick and beat us over the head with it for about three hours straight.

On the very first play of the game Willie Tuitama was viciously (and illegally) speared, but not before throwing 12.5% of completions for the night. Add the personal foul and it was a net gain of 27 yards. It's really bad news when your play of the game is accepting a roughing the passer penalty. But the glory was short lived as three plays after that 1st and 10 it was 4th and 31, and it was all downhill from there.

The defense played poorly (again with the assortment of missed tackles) but the offense was unhelpful all night. LSU started its first possession from the 50 but our D stiffened up and held them to a field goal. But then Willie threw a touchdown pass to the Tigers' Jonathan Zenon, BJ Dennard fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the next time the defense took the field it was on our own 18-yard line, already down 10.

LSU's Jacob Hester looks like he should be in a chemistry lab cleaning test tubes yet he shredded our defense for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 14 touches, and the rout was on and on and on.

To add curious insult to injury, the Wildcats received a sideline warning in the second quarter. I can't imagine the players were in a hurry to get into the game. Maybe they were trying to escape.

And what's the deal with the 5-yard-lines being labeled at Tiger Stadium? Do LSU fans get lost between 10 and 20?

(That's right, I'm left with nothing but geographic-stereotype-based intellectual smack.)

As we watched the game, my friends were asking, "Didn't this happen to us once before? Was it this bad when we played them in 2003?" Let's find out:

13 points scored
59 points allowed
(-46 point differential)
10 first downs
28 first downs allowed
(-18 first down differential)
182 yards of total offense
481 yards given up
(-299 yard differential)

3 points scored
45 points allowed
(-42 point differential)
13 first downs
21 first downs allowed
(-8 first down differential)
152 yards of total offense
461 yards given up
(-309 yard differential)

So in 3 years our defense has improved by 14 points, 20 yards and 7 first downs, but our offense has regressed by 10 points and 30 yards. Remember how last week I made fun of Arkansas for agreeing to play USC? Well, 120 minus 31 equals 89. The 104 points LSU scored on us in two games minus the 16 we put on them equals 88. Le yikes.

You can call it quitting, you can call it giving up, but I completely agree with the decision to pull Tuitama half way through the third quarter. I went back and counted a total of ten hits that he took, and most of them were violent enough to make a crash-test dummy squeamish. We gotta keep the kid healthy, and he can work on getting better next week.

A little bit of good news from the weekend: Dick Tomey does it again! Coach Tomey's San Jose State Spartans pitched a shutout in the second half and came from behind to beat Stanford by one. The Cardinal don't even have the excuse of SJSU sneaking up on them, since the Spartans took Washington to the wire the previous week before losing by six. Mr. Livengood, whatever you do, please do not schedule a game with any team coached by Dick Tomey.

Teeny tiny rays of sunshine from Saturday: Freshman H-back Earl Mitchell proved he can catch the ball. His 14-yard catch-and-punish was a thing of manly beauty.

The pitch plays to Chris Henry were nice. Yeah, they only got 3 yards against LSU, but that probably translates to about 6 or 7 against normal teams. Keep them in the offense.

We do however have to keep Chris Jennings in the offense as well. He showed the same solid skills we saw in the fall scrimmage. Let's see if he can do it against another team's first string.

I think it's safe to say no one wearing red and blue expected that. I wasn't expecting a win, but I certainly didn't think our team was going to be thoroughly dominated and outmatched. One thing's for sure, after this game Mike Stoops is going to really be in favor of the new clock rules.

The good news is this only counts as one loss. We didn't suddenly drop to 1-23. We still have ten games remaining, and we only need to win half of them to reach the postseason. Our next three games are at home, and the bowl map says we need to win two of them.

Our 1-AA game could not be coming at a better time. We need to take this very seriously and come out on fire. The O-line needs to get mean and open some running lanes. Willie needs to have time to throw downfield and pump up his confidence and the stat sheet. We need to test drive the wide receiver Ferraris. The offense needs to come out of this game saying, "This is who we are and this is what we do."

If you want to get really optimistic, the nice thing about our schedule is, even though we just got destroyed in an attempt to upset a Top Ten team, we get another chance in just two weeks. And now USC is far more likely to overlook us.

But that's another dream for another day. Beat the Dead Texans.

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