LSU-Mississippi St. Preview
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)
Les Miles generally likes to enforce what he calls a "24-hour rule," referring to the time he gives his players to reflect on their last game before moving on to the next one.
"This is a program, like most college programs, where the players really need to have victory when they get to the end of the week," Miles said Monday. "This will not be a difficult week for us to get our eyes open to how quality the opponent is."
After falling in the rankings from No. 6 to No. 10, the Tigers (4-1, 1-1 SEC) take on a team against which they've had a lot of success, winning 20 of the last 21 games, including 13 in a row.
And Miles isn't letting his players forget how much is still at stake.
Even though LSU dropped its first game of the season to a Southeastern Conference opponent, it can still win the Western Division without any help.
"I'll make reference to the big picture," Miles said. "More than anything, it's the short term. The most important need is to get us squared away and looking forward to this next team.
"On a Saturday like we just had, everybody will recognize that all the things we want to do are still in front of us," Miles continued. "There's no reason at this point in time to approach things any differently."
LSU has won two national championships and four SEC titles in the BCS era. Only the 2011 Tigers team didn't lose a game in the regular season. That LSU squad then was defeated by a one-loss Alabama team in the national championship game.
The Tigers won the national title under coach Nick Saban in 2003. That LSU team lost to Florida during the regular season. Miles' 2007 national championship squad dropped two regular-season games - both in overtime - against Kentucky and Arkansas.
The players are well aware of recent history in which one-loss teams won both the SEC and national titles. Alabama won both crowns a year ago after falling to Texas A&M.
"The mindset after the Georgia game was that game didn't make or break our season," said senior wide receiver Kadron Boone, who caught two touchdown passes last Saturday. "We just have to be ready to go back to work. If we play our cards right, we may see (Georgia) again this season."
The Tigers will have to fix problems on defense to remain in the SEC West race. Georgia gained 494 yards with Aaron Murray passing for 298 yards and four touchdowns. On a few occasions, there were missed assignments in the secondary.
"We certainly can't have blown coverages," Miles said. "The fastest way to get you beat is play against a quality team and not cover a segment of the defense.
"We have to make the point to the remainder of the defense to just do the things we ask them to do. If we do that, we'll not be just a good defense, but a great defense."
Cornerback Jalen Mills believes the Tigers will be prepared to play their best game against Mississippi State this weekend.
"In every game from now on, we just have to execute and play LSU football on offense, defense and special teams," Mills said. "We have to get that swagger and play like the guys who were here before us.
"We know the mistakes we made. We are now eager to play football. Each week, we are going to play our style of football - play football as best as we can."
Mills and the LSU defense might be facing a pair of quarterbacks Saturday, and it's unclear which one will start for the Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1) following their bye week.
Senior Tyler Russell, who threw for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns last year, has been cleared to return after suffering a concussion in a season-opening loss to Oklahoma State. However, sophomore Dak Prescott has played very well in his place and is more of a two-way threat than Russell.
Prescott has thrown for 709 yards and run for a team-leading 215 while totaling eight touchdowns. Coach Dan Mullen won't officially name his starter until Saturday, though it appears both Russell and Prescott will see playing time.
"He's been behind me and I've been behind him 100 percent," Prescott said. "We're working together and getting better every day."