LSU started its final trip inside the red zone against Auburn with 58 seconds left on the clock. It was second down and there was plenty of time to score a game-winning touchdown.
Two plays later, the Tigers made a first down at the 14. But that trip consumed 30 seconds of clock time.
Quarterback Danny Etling was then sacked by Carl Lawson and LSU was forced to take its final timeout. One play later, Etling completed a 10-yard pass to Malachi Dupre to advance LSU to the 10-yard line.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
But 15 seconds ran off the clock by the time Etling completed a pass short of the end zone. Fortunately, LSU was flagged for an illegal shift, giving the Tigers one second to launch a pass for the end zone.
It was caught. LSU seemed to have the most improbable of victories. But after further review, the play was overturned because the ball was not snapped before time expired.
After this latest clock management blunder, Les Miles’ clock might have finally run out, too.
I know it was chaotic, but LSU wasted way too much time. Should've been sitting in formation, waiting to snap it… pic.twitter.com/GyDB1csDqk
— Alex Martin Smith (@asmiff) September 25, 2016
Miles is one of the most beloved people in the state of Louisiana — just see the end of last season as proof. Miles was almost fired, but the fans protested and even Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lobbied to keep him around. Miles won’t be so lucky this season. For starters, Jindal is no longer the state’s governor.
For years, he has made the same mistakes. Among his annual lowlights: poor clock management, uncreative offenses and an inability to develop a quarterback who consistently wins.
LSU recruits better talent than almost any team in the nation, except for Alabama. Miles has burned through several quarterbacks, failed to get his receivers involved and continued to mismanage basic coaching decisions. Saturday provided another smorgasbord of shortcomings.
Travin Dural and Dupre are two of the best wide receivers in the nation, but they combined for only 68 receiving yards against Auburn. Leonard Fournette was his usual dynamic self, but he overexerted himself as he continued to deal with an ankle injury. Etling struggled in his first road start, throwing for just 118 yards.
LSU’s defense did everything it could to keep the team in the game, but it wasn’t quite enough. Auburn turned favorable field position to start many of its drives into 6 field goals.
Miles is beloved by his players. At what point isn’t that enough?
It’s now been five years since LSU has won the SEC championship. The Tigers haven’t finished top 2 in the division since 2012. Losing to Nick Saban’s Alabama squad is one thing, but finishing behind Mississippi State and Ole Miss continuously isn’t acceptable for one of the highest-paid coaches in the SEC.
Sometimes, the same old thing doesn’t work anymore, and that has been the story for Miles this season. The lack of creativity combined with the game mismanagement has slowly become too much to overcome. The foundation slowly cracks as LSU turns from a clear top-2 team in the SEC to a middle-of-the-pack outfit.
The talent is there for LSU to become a national title contender. The Tigers were even picked to win the SEC by ESPN’s Football Power Index.
But now off to a 2-2 start, with losses to unranked Wisconsin and Auburn, Miles is all out of excuses.