Sunday, December 1, 2013

It Rained in Tiger Stadium, 34-10

I left my house to pick up Sean at 4:30am on Saturday morning.  We didn't have a clue what to expect in terms of traffic and I had read reports that I-10 was a parking lot almost all evening on Friday and the last thing I wanted to do was to drive all the way there and miss kickoff.  With the 2:30p kickoff we were going to try and make it a single day road trip. 

Fortunately, we didn't hit any traffic the entire way there and by 9:15 we were driving past Tiger Stadium.  We were early enough that we were able to park in a free parking lot back behind their softball complex so all we needed to figure out was what we were going to do for the next five hours.

It was supposed to be a high in the mid-50s so we brought some gear to try and combat the cold.  Ha.

On our way out of the parking lot we were "Tiger bait"-ed for the first time.  By a 10 year old kid whose mother had a YOLO sticker on the back of her car and whose father had more ink on his arms than member of Hells Angels.  We just kept walking.
A classroom of higher education
We walked up to the stadium and then took a walk around campus to get a feel for what it was like.  I thought the campus looked quite similar to ours except the buildings all had clay tile roofs.

We got hungry so we figured out where there was some food near by, in a neighborhood called Northgate, so we walked over there and were one of the first ones in the door at BW3s.

I had read that one thing we wouldn't want to miss was the band marching down the hill about 2 hours before kickoff so we walked back and actually ran across the band, who proceeded to "Tiger bait" us.

It's really hard to be intimidated by a bunch of people wearing matching purple outfits, velcro shoes, a purse on their shoulder and a big fluffy feather on their hat.

We found ourselves a seat on a wall down by the two hills, which are affectionately referred to as "The Cleavage" and waited for the band.

Honestly, we weren't really all that impressed with the band marching - there wasn't anything fancy.  But what probably capped the afternoon off was a stout, serious looking guy who was walking by.  The reason for his serious disposition was his high level of inebriation and the need to spend every ounce of his focus to walk forward (at a very slow rate of speed).  He showed absolutely ZERO emotion with his face the entire time we were watching him.

My only regret from the trip was not taking a picture of this guy - or better yet, a video.

He decided to sit down on the wall a little ways down from us, almost missed the wall, and then attempted to do something on his phone, which he dropped.  I cringed as he pulled it closer to himself because the screen was face down - but that wouldn't matter because a few moments after he picked it up he stood up and hurled it towards the ground and it shattered.  With ZERO emotion.

Then he picked it up again and tried to use it (as if it would even turn on) but got distracted and started picking out the pieces of broken screen.  When he got bored with that he decided to try and find his friends by walking back the way he came, except he suddenly got angry with the phone again and threw it again, this time splitting it into two pieces.  Again, his facial expression never changed during the entire ordeal. 

On a scale of 1-10 on the people watching scale he was a 9.5.

We decided that we had seen enough at that point, so we started walking towards the stadium and out of no where we ran into one of Sean's elementary school buddies.  We chatted for a while as we walked but it started to rain a little bit so he headed off to a tailgate and we decided to go into the stadium.

There is a great book by John Ed Bradley, a former LSU football player, titled "It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium" that I read a couple of years ago about him looking back on his athletic career through his eyes from later in life.

He was wrong about the title.

The skies opened up at about 1pm and it poured for about an hour and then continued to sprinkle/mist until about 1/2 way through the second quarter.  It was miserable weather.  We got drenched before we could get into the stadium or get our rain gear on and ended up taking shelter under the stadium until about 20 minutes before kickoff.
The team came out in special uniforms, which I LOVED.  It was a dark grey with maroon trim and socks and the helmets faded from maroon at the crown to black at the neck.

We had to punt on our first possession, which we never do.  On the drive Ben Malena had broken into open field but didn't get to complete the TD run because of a whistle for someone not coming completely set prior to the snap.

On the second drive we had a 3rd & 4 and Johnny's 1st down pass was dropped.

It was on the third drive when I first thought that Johnny was off.  He sailed one to Evans down the right sidelines - it would have been a HUGE gain and probably a TD.

On our fourth possession, Johnny scrambled and at the end of the run collided with Malcome Kennedy's knee - he left the game.  Walker dropped a TD on 3rd & G and we couldn't score on 4th TD.  The game should have been 14-7 at this point.

One thing that LSU did a great job on  was playing Johnny's reverse spin move where he typically gets all of his scramble passing yards.

LSU took over in the shadow of their own goal post and were forced to punt and it only went 13 yards - but we had to settle for a FG.

We did score just before the half on a super quick strike to make it 21-10, which was more manageable

We had four - FOUR - rushing attempts by our talented backfield in the first half (three by Malena and one by Trey Williams).  Tra Carson was cleared to play after a head injury a few weeks ago but didn't lineup in the backfield (he did play on special teams so it wasn't an injury situation).  They literally put the entire offense on Johnny in a cold, wet environment - with what we found out later was in injured hand.

I will also say that if I never see them run with Johnny up the middle again I will be a happy man.  That said, I thought that when he scrambled he did look as quick and fast as I've seen this season - it's almost like he has been a half a step slower this year.

Speaking of scrambling, he had to do it a lot because their defense ate up our OL and were on Johnny quick all night long.
I went into Tiger Stadium expecting to be completely overwhelmed but the LSU fans weren't as loud or intimidating as I expected.  I'm sure the weather played into that but there were A LOT of empty seats (the student section in particular was quite disappointing) and then after the half there were even more empty seats.

They did get loud at certain times but it was not a sustained loud.  They also had some pretty vulgar songs that they would sing, asking to "Suck that Tiger #^@&, &*$(#"  We were sitting in the visitor's section completely surrounded by Ags so we were insulated from the full Tiger treatment that we heard about going into the game.

LSU came out of the half and extended the lead with a FG and then we turned the ball over on an incredible INT by the LSU defender.  The Tigers scored another TD and we punted.  They picked up another FG and I stopped tracking the score.

With right at 6 minutes remaining, Mike Evans fended off a pass interference and caught a TD (but there was no flag thrown).  They reviewed the play and claimed that Evans did not have complete possession of the ball when it touched the ground.  They couldn't go back and retrospectively thrown the flag for the PI so we got kinda hosed on that.  The next snap was picked.  That essentially ended the ballgame.

Trey had two second half carries and that was it for our RBs on the ground.  Shocking.

Johnny finished with 278 yards and one TD (with two INTs). It was his least impressive performance of the season.

Terrence McGee had a career high 149 yards on the ground as the Tigers lit us up for 324 rushing yards.

A couple other thoughts.....
  • I thought that Davante Harris played out of his mind - especially since he was covering Odell Beckham Jr. all night
  • Once again we got NO PASS RUSH.  It was pathetic.
  • Getting no pass rush allows our opponent to simply pick us appart on 3rd down - they converted on 3rd & 6, 3rd & 6, 3rd & 9, 3rd & 10 (overall 11-of-17 on 3rd down, including 3 TDs on 3rd down)
We finish up the regular season next weekend on the road at #5 Missouri.  Hopefully, we can turn things around.

After the game we solemnly walked back to the car, hoping to find all four tires still inflated and nothing scratched into the paint.  We were able to get out to town really quickly, safely made it over the creepy bridge just before Lafayette, and got home around 12:30am.

Overall, it was a bad game and horrible weather - but I'll never regret going on the road to see my Ags.  Man, the SEC is tough.

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