Miles says No. 15 LSU passing game will emerge

LSU’s paucity of passing yardage hasn’t haunted the No. 15

Tigers yet.

In its past two games, LSU had fewer than 100 yards passing and

has not scored a single touchdown through the air – yet won by

three-plus touchdowns each week while improving to 3-0.

Although coach Les Miles expects his quarterback and highly

regarded receiving corps to be more productive, he stressed that

the Tigers aren’t about to air it out just for the sake of it.

”Our offense is preparing to answer the call based on the need

of the game, and certainly in last Saturday’s game it answered that

call very well,” Miles said Monday.

With No. 22 West Virginia invading Death Valley on Saturday

night, this could be the week that LSU’s passing game is asked to

emerge. The Mountaineers (3-0) have an explosive offense that is

averaging nearly 29 points, while their defense has played well

against the run, holding Maryland to minus-10 yards rushing last

weekend.

In the past two weeks, the burden on LSU’s offense has been

lightened by a dominant defense that registered six sacks at

Vanderbilt and five interceptions against Mississippi State.

Against the Commodores, LSU’s running game piled up 280 yards to

help the Tigers pull away 27-3.

Against Mississippi State, the interceptions gave the Tigers

such good field position that they were able to finish with fewer

offensive yards than the Bulldogs and still post a convincing 29-7

win.

More than half of LSU’s points against the Mississippi State

came on an LSU single-game record five field goals by Josh Jasper.

When Jasper took the field for his fourth field goal try, the Tiger

Stadium crowd booed out of apparent annoyance at promising drives

stalling short of the end zone.

Russell Shepard said he and his fellow receivers have to take

some of the blame for some of those failures, and by extension,

quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s low passing numbers.

Shepard said he dropped two passes he should have caught, one of

which would have resulted in a touchdown.

”There’s two throws that Jordan made that would have put him

over 100 yards, that would have gave him that touchdown,” Shepard

said. ”I had to put that (on) myself. … As a receiving corps, we

have things we have to work on. It’s not all Jordan.”

Another potential touchdown toss against the Bulldogs dropped

incomplete when receiver Terrence Toliver struggled to find what

looked like a catchable fade pass.

”We threw a couple of balls that we would have liked to have

had completed, and two more touchdowns in the air would have been a

nice day,” Miles said. ”There will be games as we go forward that

will rely on our tall, capable receiving corps and will count on

the quarterback’s ability to make those throws.”

After going 8 of 20 for 96 yards against Vanderbilt, Jefferson

finished 10 of 16 for 97 against Mississippi State. Shepard noted

that Jefferson’s completion percentage against the Bulldogs would

have been in the 80 percent range if not for receivers’

mistakes.

Jefferson also noted that, ”It’s kind of difficult to throw for

300-plus yards when you only throw the ball 16 times.”

”That’s the coaches’ call,” Jefferson added. ”I just guess

whenever the big games come, we’re going to open it up.”

LSU has pieces in place for an explosive passing attack.

Jefferson is 6-foot-4, a good all-around athlete and in his second

year as starter. LSU’s top receivers are fast and relatively tall;

Toliver is 6-foot-5, Rueben Randle 6-4 and Shepard 6-1.

Star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who covers top Tigers

receivers in practice, is as mystified as anyone over why LSU’s

passing game hasn’t been more productive.

”I don’t know what the deal is with what the offense is doing,

but I know one thing: That we have tremendous athletes at the

receiver spot,” Peterson said. ”Those guys can make plays at any

given time of the football game. We know (offensive coordinator

Gary) Crowton and coach Miles are going to get those guys

eventually involved with the offense, but it takes time and I don’t

know how they’re game-planning over there.”