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Redemption In Death Valley

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Would you rather hold a dubious record (interceptions thrown and returned for TD’s) or earn co-player of the game award for beating long-time rival Alabama when they were defending national champions?  LSU’s quarterback Jarrett Lee can lay claim to both. 

Maybe you’d rather be a much maligned “running quarterback” who’s had a rollercoaster career at LSU and then completes a 75-yard touchdown against Alabama to turn the tide in what would become a big victory.  LSU’s other quarterback Jordan Jefferson can lay claim to both.

Third choice: You could have been an eighth grade quarterback in a playoff game that goes into overtime, but your receiver can’t make the winning catch. Then you go on to become a five-star recruit as a receiver yourself and make the catch from Jarrett Lee to break Bama’s back on November 6, 2010.  Ruben Randall can lay claim to both.

Two others have their shot at redemption in this battle between perennial SEC power houses.  Head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton have had their share of criticism both this and last season.  Even the New York Times ran a story about LSU when they were 7-0, pointing out the outspoken fury of their fans not happy with the team’s performance.  How many 7-0 teams have such unhappy fans? 

Miles showed why he has earned the title of “Mad Hatter” with his decisions (like a soon-to-be-famous 4th down play), and Crowton called the right plays.  Combine their efforts with the ability of the team (especially the aforementioned players) and lots of people earned their redemption in the 24-21 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. As Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News said, “[T]he exact distance between genius and madness? It’s one Miles.”

All season long, for nine weeks, we’ve heard the talking heads applaud the wealth of talent in Baton Rouge and then decry the inability of the coaching staff to take advantage of it—or for the athletes themselves to produce when the chips are down.

With three games left in the regular season, LSU loyalists will want to see them run the table.  For this fan, no matter what happens in the last three games, the players and coaches who needed a boost the most got redemption today.  Go Tigers!

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