The Voice Speaks


First things first. Welcome to Death Valley Voice. This will be a place that LSU fans can come to blow off steam discussing all things LSU Football, and to be a part of a digital community that bleeds purple and gold. The name Death Valley voice is referring to me, a Baton Rouge transplant now living in Los Angeles, but I like to think of it as a collective. One voice emanating from the bowels of a stadium that I grew up ten minutes away from. We have a big season ahead of us, a defining season of sorts, so now that that introduction is out of the way I feel the need to do something. I need to talk directly to the man, directly to Coach Les Miles. Excuse me for a second.

Dear Coach Miles,

Let me start off by saying I’ve never coached one down of College Football. It’s important that I say that, because I want to always make sure that you feel like you’re getting the respect you deserve here. I don’t want to start this new blog venture on the wrong side of the head man, so it’s important that you know I wish to bury the hatchet with you. I’ve written in the past about my dislike for the state of the program and the listless brand of football we seem to be playing, but I’m just letting you know that I’m ready to go into the season with a clean slate. Also, I’d like to apologize for all the things I’ve said about you personally. This column in particular might have been a little too harsh and short sighted. You’re the coach we have, the leader of our current pack of Tigers, and I support you 100%.
I just want to say a couple, itsy bitsy teenie weenie things really quick. Is that cool? Okay, I mentioned earlier that I’ve never coached any College Football. While that’s true, another truth is that I’ve watched it my whole life. That’s just kinda how things are growing up in Baton Rouge; you eat crawfish, keep an extra umbrella in the car, and watch college football. In all my years of watching, I have the game broken down into basically three areas. I call it the “DDI formula”. That stands for Development, Discipline and Identity. I believe these are the three cogs to having a successful program. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you where I feel like we stand on all three facets.

Development –

Let me tell you what I mean here. This means how quickly and efficiently those blue chippers get turned into real players. It’s a very subtle art. And in my opinion it’s what separates schools that reload from schools that rebuild. The more talented the guys are, normally the less amount of time it’ll take them to become quality players. This is when your freshman and sophomores make an impact, so while teams with lesser talent are waiting every three years to field a decent team full of upperclassmen, you’re are doing it every season. Coaching is a very big part of that. It’s how you get the most out of those dynamic talents. With all due respect coach, we’re not doing a very good job in the development arena. The team is stacked full of four and five star recruits, and yet no one seems to ever get any better. Case in point, Jared Lee and Jordan Jefferson. Now neither guy was super highly recruited, so I’d expect there maturation to come slower. But I can go out on a limb right now and say that their collective growth has been nil. Lee is a particular travesty. The ugly fact is that LSU fans don’t wanna hear is that he’s talented. Strong arm, quick release. Does he have it between the ears? Maybe not. But at this point there should be SOMETHING that he can do well. It’s like he started off decent, then just continued to get worse to the point that now he’s not even a football player anymore, he’s a punch line. Same thing with Jefferson. It’s so hard to watch him at times. It’s as if no one is telling him anything. He’ll hold the ball, he’ll take a drive killing sack, he’ll check out of a play and into the wrong one. The same stuff every game. I can’t tell you how hard it is to watch other players on other teams come into their own while our guys seem stuck in ever hardening developmental concrete. This happens in other areas of the team besides quarterback as well, but we have to move on.

Discipline –

I’m not talking about bloodthirsty psychopaths with arrest records being on the team. You actually do a pretty good job with that. Although I got to say, that part’s easier then they make it seem. If you’re recruiting a guy who has 3 kids at eighteen and a tattoo that says “3rd street killas” on him, maybe he’s more trouble then he’s worth to the program. I’m talking about on the field discipline. This actually wins and loses games in college football. As you know, you’re dealing with teenagers. They need structure. This starts from the top with an understanding of what’s expected of them. Now our guys are all good kids that play with a lot of enthusiasm, but it seems like sometimes they play recklessly. We may not lead the SEC in total penalties, but in STUPID penalties, we’d have to be number one. It seems as if every play over 30 yards has an illegal shift or too many men on the field. We sack the quarterback, then kick the ball after the play for a cool 15 (still haven’t forgiven you Alem). Things like this seem to happen to us in bunches. They’re the mark of a team that’s fragmented from the top, where the HC doesn’t have a good hold on his troops. To make things worse at every infraction there’s you, hugging someone and patting them on the butt. This past NFL season, I watched Sean Payton mouth the words “That’s on you,” to Reggie Bush after one of his patented fumbles cost the Saints six. That’s in pro ball, where the guys are playing for green and any criticism of a star can lead to a coaches seat getting a little hotter. The fact is whether it’s pro or college, accountability and discipline lead to championship football.

And lastly, Identity –

Okay, so we have ZERO of this and there’s an easy way to tell. I’ll say a team name and you say the first thing that comes to mind. Alabama. You said defense. Florida. You said the spread offense. USC . You said sanctions. LOL, I had to get that one in. Anyway, you get what I mean. What are we? What do WE do? Is it still defense? Not really, with a smallish D-line and a team that doesn’t seem to fly to the ball anymore, we just don’t get after it like we used to. Maybe Chavis will fix this, but for now, we’re a good defensive team, not a great one. Offense? Get out of here. I love LSU to the depth of my soul but it’s the most painful offensive group to watch in since Necessary Roughness. On that side of the ball, no one seems to have any clue what they are doing or how to succeed. But overall, as a team, I don’t think there’s any identity, because I don’ think there’s any trust. Coach, you seem to be great with parents. You can go in there and get in their ears and get their boys into Baton Rouge. But I’m beginning to wonder just how good you are with the boys themselves. Do they believe in what they’re doing? Do they believe in you and your staff? With such high profile mess ups like the Ole Miss debacle looming, do you even have the clout with them to tell them what they are anymore?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know that come September 4th, in front of the whole nation we’ll get some answers. I hope for a great season, and I have faith in my squad, but I have to admit, I’m protecting myself. I’m guarding against being overly optimistic. Prove me wrong, Mr. Miles.