There is another game going on besides the inevitable blowout of Notre Dame by USC tomorrow: the Ambiguity Bowl, sponsored by Arthur Andersen Accounting, featuring two teams caught somewhere between fish and fowl this year:LSU and Florida. We break down the matchups in a remarkably civil convo between burly Florida brawler We Are The Boys, an appropriately tipsy Orson Swindle, and LSU bloggers Dave from TigerSmack and Ryan from Death Valley Saturdays. The verdict on both teams? Totally unimpressed and clueless about what mixing two volatile and inconsistent teams like these together might add up to. Among other things, we discuss whether Les Miles really is the soul twin of Ron Zook, and reminisce on the glorious six-game career of former LSU back and felon Cecil Collins. Enjoy.
Cecil Collins: Adept at breaking through defenses and into apartments.
Orson Swindle: Okay, we'll run this McLaughlin style with me at the point. Open question for all: who's experiencing a little bit of overshadowed fever on USC-ND weekend? Ryan?
Death Valley Saturdays: Hey- it doesn't necessarily bother me, less time focused on
LSU's problems nationally is good to me.
Dave: I"m not feeling overshadowed, really. I think ND-USC is by all rights a bigger game and one that people are more interested in. Probably on any other weekend, we get Gameday in baton rouge, but I understand
We Are The Boys: I'm glad we're not in the spotlight. Odds are, one of these two teams is going to come out of this game looking terrible. If it's the Gators, the less people pay attention, the better.
DVS: I agree, one of us is going to look like busts... better if everyone is focused on South Bend.
OS: Agreed. I think both teams are gonna stink like bad ham this weekend, but for different reasons. Which brings us to our next mystery: who is Les Miles, and what is he doing coaching LSU? Tigers first, please.
Dave: He was the best AVAILABLE coach. Due to the timing of Saban's departure, all the better coaches (spurrier, meyer, etc) were already gone. And Butch Davis wanted some time off.
DVS: I'm not exactly sure.... I wanted to wreck his office after UT, I can tell you that. But if we can play like we know we can play... it doesn't matter who the coach is.
Dave: Honestly, Pelini concerns me more than Miles.
OS: Not Jimbo Fisher?
Dave: I guess we're just used to Jimbo by now.
WATB: I see the Miles tenure as a lesser version of the "nobody-wants-to-follow-a-legend" philosophy (see Foley, Jeremy). SOMEBODY'S gotta coach the team, might as well throw a no-name like Miles at the wall and hope he sticks.
DVS: Yeah, I agree with Dave on Pelini. I was much happier with the way our D played against offensive powers VU and MSU though.
LSU hired Pelini with fresh tire tracks on his back from USC's shredding of his Oklahoma D
harumphharumph: Hey, you're coming off Saban, as good of a "cold bastard defense" coach as there is. Does Miles smack of Zookdom to you? Or is that a cheap tag?
Dave: Miles got the easiest gig in the world. He didnt have to recruit or rebuild. His only real mission was "don't break anything". I'm afraid Pelini may be breaking it.
DVS: Miles hasn't looked like the smartest game-day coach... and honestly he didn't have to change anything
Dave: Yes, people on the forums are calling them "les zook" and "Lou Pelini" (after Lou Tepper, worst DC in college football history.)
DVS: Yeah, Tepper is what I first thought of after Tennessee. Read and React, more like read and let the other team gain 15 yards.
Dave: The public outcry seems to have worked though. There were definite changes after ASU and UT.
Dave: Well, when you line up 15 yards off the receiver, I dont care how good you are. and Ronnie Prude and Chevis Jackson aren't that good.
OS: Not to play the part of the Grand Inquisitor, but what changes? Like giving freak Addai more than ten carries a game?
Dave: No, like not lining up 15 yards off the receivers, like blitzing more often.
DVS: They were throwing more screens on offense, which have always worked.
WATB: They weren't bubble screens, were they? Sounds familiar...
Dave: Yeah, the bubble screen was very effective at moo state.
DVS: The Xavier Carter reverse against MSU is something which wasn't done against ASU or UT.
OS: A bubble screen killed my daddy.
Dave: Yeah. If xavier carter could, you know, hold on to the ball or something, he'd be a weapon.
DVS: And JMR has thrown the ball down the field a little more since the UT game, i.e. Dwayne Bowe finally seeing the ball.
Dave: Benny Brazell too
DVS: Track stars playing football.... it hardly ever works.
Dave: Yeah. We had all the preseason hype about the best receiving corps in the nation, but they didn't seem to want to use them. Now I know why--they can't catch.
DVS: to be fair Craig Davis has been banged up
OS: We'll start trading questions up a bit here. First, Tigers: what about UF worries you most? And then, least?
DVS: I have nightmares about Leak and Wynn running that little dump-off play over the middle.
Dave: Most and least: chris leak. If he's on, he can be deadly. If he's off, we'll murderize him.
Probably has more to do with the Florida o-line and LSU defense than Leak, though.
DVS: Least: That vaunted spread offense attack- it doesn't seem to be working well, and if we blitz him we can nail him.
OS: WATB, to you: same questions, just applied to LSU.
WATB: My least worry: The LSU secondary. If the gameplan is more spread, less option, Leak could have a field day. My biggest fear: We keep a banged-up Leak in option situations and he's wheeled off to the morgue in the second quarter.
OS: Ominous tones of "Portis'll be ready" coming from Meyer and Mullen this week. Wouldn't hold your breath on more spread, less option yet.
DVS: Do you think Meyer will make the proper adjustments and recognize the flaw in running the option against LSU?
OS: Nope. The flaw, in Meyer's eyes, is that they can't blow LSU off the ball. Not the system.
WATB: I get the impression they're treating this year as a season-long scrimmage in preparation for a big 2006. Our coaches are just stubborn as hell in sticking to the system.
OS: No fucking shit. Stubborn as hell.
Dave: we were getting the same feeling about Pelini's defense, although they seem to have caved.
DVS: Well, SEC defenses aren't MWC or MAC D's... blowing us off the ball is like like blowing other teams off the field.
WATB: When I read before the MSU game that they were planning on implementing MORE spread-opt principles, I vomited in terror.
OS: They're riding that pole 'til it snaps.
Dave: I think Miles and Meyer both have a bit to learn about the SEC.
OS: I don't know--there's too much made of how special the SEC is as a conference.
DVS: Yeah- its hard to start out fresh in the SEC without coaching/playing experience.
Dave: i'm not saying special, but definitely different
DVS: People forget... Saban had some rough times at LSU i.e. UAB 14 LSU 10
Dave: yeah, and he had some penalty problems the first 2 years too.
OS: That's why you don't see too many people at UF flipping out about Meyer this year. Going in, we though Miles would have the tougher job long haul since any decline would be seen as him screwing up the program.
WATB: Nah, it'll happen after loss 2.
Dave: Really? I've been hearing they're ready to tar and feather the guy.
WATB: We've been conditioned to believe Meyer is the greatest coach in the history of football. The Bama wake-up call was an awakening way beyond rude.
OS: Internet stuff. Don't think it's reflective of the general sentiment.
DVS: Well he (Miles) did blow the lead against UT against a former LSU
Dave: My fear is that miles will be like Dinardo... 2 or 3 winning seaons before the decline.
OS: Ooh, don't say that word in polite company.
Your new coach is...AAGGGGHHHH!!!
DVS: Was the Bama game a fluke or was it a true picture of what's going on at UF?
OS: Something in between.
WATB: Little from column A, little from column B
Dave: Yeah, no way Florida is that bad.
WATB: Along those lines, LSU-Vandy... the real LSU, or the real Vandy?
DVS: I think of it (AU-UF) like LSU's loss to UGA... they kicked our ass but we were nowhere near that godawful.
Dave: Same answer
Dave: I'm not especially impressed by the Vandy win because it's exactly what LSU should have done to Vandy.
DVS: It wasn't the real LSU... put it that way
Dave: In fact, i'm concerned that it was into the 4th before we pulled away, although playing vandy is just weird. They tend to play people close for a while. They've done it to Florida a few times haven't they?
OS: Hey, a pretty good Georgia team two years ago left the half at 2-0. UF always had problems up there in the good ole' days.
DVS: The offense concerned me... I was happy with the defensive adjustments though...JMR still makes some Brooks-esque plays at times.
OS: You are correct, Dave. My wife almost got thrown out of
the 96 game up there.
Dave: Gah. Don't say the B word.
DVS: Remember the 7-6 game in 97? Last game for the Diesel haha
Dave: Yep. Vividly. And the todd kinchen game prior to that.
DVS: Admit it... that fumble against ASU was definitely right out of a Brooks highlight package.
OS: Loved Cecil Collins.
Dave: That whole game was a fluke. Lsu should not have won
that game.I think he's still in jail.
DVS: He should be
OS: Oh, yeah: B and E and violation of a restraining order, I think.
DVS: But was he fuckin' awesome in his four games.
OS: Legendary. Wrap up predictions?
Dave: really too close to call. I cant even give LSU a home advantage, as tiger stadium doesnt seem to bother florida much. Just for fun i'll say LSU 24 Florida 21.
WATB: My homerism is incurable. Despite a complete lack of any reasonable basis, Gators 20-17.
DVS: Tigers... 26-21 LSU pulls ahead early, UF comes back, LSU crowd gets VERY uneasy, Miles wins it because if he doesn't some drunk Coonass is gonna have his ass after the game.
DVS: Agree with WATB... can an LSU student possibly pick
WATB: This isn't a game where I can look at past performance and say with any confidence I know what to expect from either team. This game absolutely terrifies me.
Dave: Indeed. It makes me nervous because it's make or break for both teams.
OS: Tigers, 31-13. This thing ain't fixed yet, and we're hurting all over the place. Another "learning experience."
OS: Oh, and if I pick the Tigers, they lose. Ulterior motives.
WATB: Whatever helps you sleep at night
OS: That and Ambien.
DVS: It's really the most unpredictable game since... well UT or ASU honestly, but its more unpredictable than any game I remember from before this year.
OS: Best of luck to all.