I bought the shirt, but not the hype. Yet, here I was in the fourth quarter...
It was about to happen. Hype was about to meet reality. All of Dan Mullen's talk was beginning to come true. We had all heard the,"I'll see you in Atlanta" speeches during halftime at the basketball games. We all knew that the guy could coach talent. We just questioned if he could coach what we perceived to be, well, "not Florida" talent. Because only a team like Florida could hang with LSU. But we had a real chance. We were in this game! We just needed 4 inches.
The 4th quarter had not started well for us Bulldog fans. We watched Tiger safety Chad Jones return a punt for 93 yards. Yet somehow, our offense came back and answered. Largely in part to a 46-yard completion from QB Chris Relf to WR O'Neal Wilder. It was pretty. Unfortunately, it was followed by a trick play that never should've happened (involving Bumphis) and we settled for a Field Goal.
On the next drive, Zack Smith (I'm surprised too) came up with a big sack on LSU QB Jordan Jefferson that was the defensive catalyst to stalling that particular Tiger drive. The fans went nuts. We all knew that we had a real shot of beating LSU. That Dan Mullen might start 1-0 against overrated teams, and teams in the top-10 in general.
With 8:11 left in the game, we took the ball. Senior QB, and former walk-on, Tyson Lee went 2/6 and RB Anthony Dixon had 2 rush for 6 yards. Heath Hutchins punted 52 yards and as I watched the ball go through the air and land in Chad Jones' hands, a feeling that can only be described as the death of hope washed over me. Thankfully, Jones was tackled for a loss of one yard on the Tiger 3 yard line. Long story short, they found themselves with 4th and 13 from the 12. Yeah.
Then the drive that would have a name if we would've won happened. This is from ESPN.
|Mississippi State at 3:53||LSU||MSST|
|1st and 10 at MSST 50||Tyson Lee rush for 6 yards to the LSU 44.||30||24|
|2nd and 4 at LSU 44||Christian Ducre rush for 11 yards to the LSU 33 for a 1ST down.|
|1st and 10 at LSU 33||Christian Ducre rush for 13 yards to the LSU 20 for a 1ST down.|
|1st and 10 at LSU 20||Christian Ducre rush for no gain to the LSU 20.|
|2nd and 10 at LSU 20||Tyson Lee pass incomplete to Chad Bumphis.|
|3rd and 10 at LSU 20||Anthony Dixon rush for 18 yards to the LSU 2 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.|
|1st and Goal at LSU 2||Anthony Dixon rush for 1 yard to the LSU 1.|
|2nd and Goal at LSU 1||Timeout LSU, clock 01:22.|
|2nd and Goal at LSU 1||Anthony Dixon rush for no gain to the LSU 1.|
|3rd and Goal at LSU 1||Timeout LSU, clock 01:14.|
|3rd and Goal at LSU 1||Tyson Lee pass incomplete, broken up by Chad Jones.|
|4th and Goal at LSU 1||Tyson Lee rush for no gain to the LSU 1.|
|DRIVE TOTALS: MisSt drive: 10 plays 49 yards, 02:45 MisSt DOWNS|
When you read "... and goal at LSU 1". It really means "... and goal at LSU 4-inch mark". It was hard to watch. How many times does a team make it inside the other teams one and not get in after 3 tries. We only need those 4 inches and we win.
I remember it. Anthony Dixon from the 2 to the 1. Obviously they're going to give it to him again, right? Play action fake to Dixon as Lee rolls out to the right. He's got a man open, he throws... OH NO!!! It was tipped by that guy that ran the punt back. WOW! Yes, Chad Jones (Tiger safety) is clutch.
Just a little note, a TD would have been scored if Lee would've have pump-faked or stepped to the right one step or run way out to the right and scored by the pylon with his feet. Or if they would've have given it to Dixon who, on the fake, jumped straight through the pile and successfully landed in the end zone, just without the ball because it was a fake.
Final play. 4th and goal from the LSU "1". After watching the replay, I feel comfortable saying this was a run-option to the left. Lee had two men out wide open in the flat to his left. He did the Tebow. I don't mean run up the middle and overpower LBers and score. I mean the fake run. The tuck the ball, dip the shoulders and then take a step backwards to throw. Except it was getting a little crowded. Lee saw a small opening in front of him and decided to go. As he went forward people fell on his ankles and Lee tucked the ball into his chest as he leaned forward. A TD woud've been scored if he stretched his hands out of if he threw it left to Dixon and whoever else was in the flat. It's really just too bad.
Then LSU got the ball. They ended their drive with their punter running out of bounds to give us a safety, making the game 30-26 Tigers. They then punted deep and we looked like the Miss State of old with 4 incompletions that started with a dump-off pass. We were on our 32 and needed a TD. A dump pass was not the best of ideas.
The Good News
LSU had 30 yards rushing to our 151.
Anthony Dixon had 27 carries for 106 yards and 2 TD's. (3.9 avg)
The Bad News
We still can't stop the big play. This was evident against Auburn. If we could, I feel that the Auburn game would've come down to the wire.
LSU WR Brandon LaFell (#1) had 6 receptions for 102 yards and 2 TD's.
Starting QB Tyson Lee had 3 interceptions in the first half. Backup HB Arnil Stallworth fumbled in the first half. That's 4 first half turnovers and we lost by 6. (really 4, but had we scored then the safety wouldn't have happened.)
Stallworth is not credited with a fumble on ESPN, but I'm about 99% sure it was him. I have only seen the game once and I have not read anything except the stats.
Edit: I want to add one more thing....
Tyson Lee: 15/38, 172 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT (the pick 6 was not his fault)
Chris Relf: 1/1, 46 yards
Jordan Jefferson: 15/28, 233 yards, 2 TD's
The QB really is the most important position in sports, and as the stats show, the most important factor in this game.
Dear Bulldog Faithful,
We may have lost but I want to remind you that we hung in there with the number 7 team in the country. I want to remind you that we were competitive with LSU for the first time in what feels like a decade. I want to remind you that Dan Mullen needs Tyler Russel to be very good next year and that if he is, I'll see you in Atlanta.