A back-and-forth game found the LSU Tigers on the losing end of a 25-24 final in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against the Clemson Tigers.
Two plays into the game, LSU forced a turnover. Two plays after that, the purple and gold scored with relative ease. LSU and company appeared on their way to another Chick-fil-A blowout. However, when the final gun sounded, somehow, it was the other Tigers who were celebrating.
"This one is a painful one," said head coach Les Miles. "To lose this way," said Jarvis Landry, sophomore wide receiver. "It didn't seem real," said Kevin Minter, junior linebacker. "It stings right now," said John Chavis, defensive coordinator. "It sucks for the night," said Zach Mettenberger, junior quarterback. "I just want to apologize to Tiger nation for letting them down," said Eric Reid, junior safety.
Miles couldn't blame the defense for allowing the game-winning score. He said the opponent snapped the ball about 50 times more than his offense. To him, there was one factor more than any other that caused LSU to lose.
"We couldn't protect our passer. Our pass protection was as poor as it was. A need to improve our protection," he explained. "We had a young right tackle that had an off night," Mettenberger added.
However, LSU's defense found it harder to forgive itself. Particularly, allowing a first down completion on a fourth and 16 on that game-winning march.
"We have to get to the quarterback. Most critical part of the game. Completely my fault. I wasn't tight enough in coverage and they were able to convert," Reid stated.
"We thought it was the right call at the right time. Pressure didn't quite get there and we didn't quite stay on top of the route," added Chavis.
The sequence LSU fans will question the most, without a doubt, is the Tigers' final offensive possession of the night. Why did the Tigers, with a 2-point lead, throw the ball three straight times? And, why didn't Jeremy Hill, who had 12 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, not get a carry on that drive? Better yet, why didn't he carry the ball at all in the fourth quarter?
"There's a number of guys in there. They've got extra guys in there that we can't block. We had to throw the football in a position where they outnumbered us in the run," said Miles. "Where, if they didn't have enough in the box, we were going to run it. And, if they loaded the box up, then we had a better matchup on the outside. So, we decided to throw it and that's what we did. We just didn't execute," explained Josh Dworaczyk, senior offensive lineman.
"It was really a great call. They were out of position. They didn't know how to line up to the formation we were in," added Jarvis Landry. "The one bad throw that I had all night was right there and I really put the whole game on myself on really that one play. This whole year is going to eat at me throughout the whole offseason. I definitely didn't play how I really wanted to all year and I can promise to everybody out there no one's going to worker harder than I am on this team to try to put this behind me and go out and have a great senior year like I deserve," said Mettenberger.
LSU finished the season 10-3.
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