Miles getting reckless with LSU's title hopes
Crazy or courageous? Brilliant or lucky?
LSU's Les Miles has taken an X Games approach to coaching the Tigers this season. Maybe he should be wearing a helmet instead of that ever-present white baseball cap.
Miles hasn't wiped out yet, but LSU fans must be wondering if these high risk-high reward maneuvers are going to cost their team a shot at the national championship.
His latest daring deed came Saturday night with the Tigers trailing Auburn 24-23 in the final minute and needing a victory to stay in the title chase.
LSU had put itself in position to attempt a field goal from about 39 yards to take the lead. Kicker Colt David has been only so-so this season, his longest coming from yards 38 out.
So, on third down from the 22 with about 18 seconds left, the Tigers decided to take a shot at the end zone.
Demetrius Byrd went down the sideline against single coverage and Matt Flynn placed a pass just under the arms of an Auburn defender. Touchdown LSU. Tiger Stadium went wild, at least those who weren't in a state of shock when they looked up at the clock and saw 1 second left.
"I was picking up a linebacker on a blitz," LSU running back Jacob Hester said after the game, "and when I saw there was only 1 second left I almost had a heart attack, but I'm glad he caught it. It was a scary moment, but we won."
If the ball had been tipped away, it very well could've been the last play of the game. LSU would've never gotten a chance to kick that potential winning field goal.
The Tigers practically ran a do-or-die play when they didn't have to.
"They had a shot at a field goal if it was dropped," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. "But that's cutting it pretty close."
Miles said after the game he felt safe going for the end zone because he had still had a timeout and because there was plenty of time left on the clock.
The problem is there wasn't plenty of time left for the play offensive coordinator Gary Crowton called.
Miles said he had 18 seconds, but when the ball was snapped there was only about 12 seconds left. Had LSU called a timeout before the play, then the Tigers would've had 18 seconds and plenty of time.
They ran a five-step drop and had a receiver run about 30 yards into the end zone with 12 seconds left.
"I had a timeout left that I could call but I did not expect it to come down to the 1 second," Miles said. "I didn't have it timed out that far. Certainly, it worked right."
Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, who now works as a radio analyst, said Sunday in a telephone interview he felt Miles probably thought he had more time than he actually did.
"I called plays for 15 years," said Bowden, who works for Westwood One Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio and writes a columns for Yahoo! Sports. "In my mind he had to have gotten wrong information from his assistants. That was not a gutsy call. That was a bad call gone good."
Last week, LSU's play calling in the three-overtime loss against Kentucky came into question when the Tigers ran the ball four straight times -- including on fourth-and-2 -- on their final possession and didn't get a first down.
The game before that against Florida, Miles went for it five times on fourth down and made all five, including a fourth-and-a-long-yard late in the game in Gators territory when a field goal would have tied it and probably sent the game into overtime.
Against Florida, it seemed Miles was trying to prove a point to his team and everybody else. It almost seemed as if he was trying to say, "We have the best players. Come stop us."
It was bold and it had to give his oh-so-talented squad a massive shot of confidence in a game it trailed early and went on to win.
Maybe Miles got a bit drunk with his success? A little too confident in his team?
Running the ball of fourth-and-2, and it was every bit a full 2 yards, with the game on the line against Kentucky was arrogant. What LSU did to beat Auburn was reckless.
The way the SEC is shaping up this season, Miles and LSU can expect to be in at least one or two more of these close games -- maybe at Alabama in two weeks.
LSU can't lose again if it wants to win a national championship.
No one is suggesting Miles needs to go Lloyd Carr conservative and stop taking chances.
It might be time, though, for Miles to at least start working with a net.
AP sports writers John Zenor in Montgomery, Ala., and Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, La., contributed to this report.
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