LSU: ‘The Hat’ is back

LSU head coach Les Miles pulled from his bag of tricks to spark a Tigers victory.

NCAA Football: Alabama-Birmingham at Louisiana State

Head coach Les Miles is entering his 10th season at the helm of the LSU football program. (Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports)

(C+P) — In last year’s National Championship Game, Florida State trailed Auburn by a seemingly insurmountable 21-3 margin. Nearing halftime, Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher (former LSU offensive coordinator) dialed up a fake punt. It worked, and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston drove his team for a touchdown that sparked a 34-31 victory.

Fast forward about eight months. With his team trailing Wisconsin, 24-7, early in the third quarter LSU head coach Les Miles needed a similar spark in the Tigers’ 2014 season opener played at Houston’s NRG Stadium. A similar play was called and it reaped similar rewards. The Tigers converted the trick play into a field goal and with the momentum swing rallied for a 28-24 triumph.

“The Hat” does it again.

True, his undisciplined teams give more than a few fans headaches. In the same game, LSU was penalized for delay of game — on a kickoff — to start the second half. Odds are Miles didn’t even know such an infraction exists. He’s the same guy who ran the length of the LSU sidelines for the purpose of notifying the referee he demanded a timeout following a change of possession.

LSU Tigers running back Kenny Hilliard led his team to victory in the 2014 season opener. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
LSU Tigers running back Kenny Hilliard led his team to victory in the 2014 season opener. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

But Miles-coached teams are never boring. Because you never know what “The Hat” will pull next. He gets a new lid for every game. No one knows what’s hiding under it; perhaps the contact information for the nation’s top recruits?

He brings the talent to Tiger Stadium, and converts that talent into wins. In his 10th season at LSU, no SEC team has more victories (96) over that span. He is second all-time in wins at the school, trailing only Charles “Cholly Mac” McClendon, with 137 victories over 18 seasons.

Bringing in the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation this year, those victories should continue to roll in for Miles and for LSU.

The next one will likely come Saturday when LSU hosts Sam Houston State in the newly expanded Tiger Stadium, which now has a capacity of 102,321. Kickoff is set for 6:39 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. The Tigers will look to add to its FBS record of 46 consecutive non-conference regular season wins.

Tigers fans are hoping to get a better look at freshman running back Leonard Fournette, the nation’s top recruit who rushed only eight times for 18 yards against Wisconsin. That’s because senior Kenny Hilliard, in just his second career start, ran 18 times for 110 yards. He had 93 yards alone in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning 28-yard touchdown run.

The Hat likely won’t need to reach into his bag of tricks against the FCS opponent. LSU is 9-0 all-time against that division. However, the Bearkats (1-1), from Huntsville, TX  are ranked 13th in the nation and played for FCS National Championship in 2012-2013.

But should the need arise, Miles has displayed over the years no hesitation for reaching into his bag of tricks. Nobody does it better than The Hat.

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