No. 9 LSU welcomes quick shot at redemption
Zach Mettenberger insists LSU’s offense is not as bad as it
”We’re close. We’re very close,” Mettenberger said after
practice Monday evening. ”We just got to get it to where all 11
guys on offense are doing the right things at the right time.”
LSU (5-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) was unable to score a
single touchdown in a 14-6 loss at No. 4 Florida last weekend, but
Mettenberger said eliminating minor, correctable errors could
drastically enhance the ninth-ranked Tigers’ offensive output when
No. 3 South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) visits
Death Valley this Saturday night.
”There are a lot of different things that factor into it that
fans and the media don’t really see but I can assure you that all
of our mistakes are correctable,” he said. ”We’ve just got to
take care of business and get them corrected.”
If the Tigers’ fail to do as their quarterback prescribes, their
hopes of playing for a national title in Miami could virtually
vanish. A victory, however, would provide almost immediate
redemption and inject the Tigers right back into the BCS
”It’s a perfect situation,” safety Eric Reid said. ”We had a
tough loss, but at the same time, we can have a big win this
Reid and the rest of LSU’s defense remains confident after
shutting out the Gators in the first half and forcing two turnovers
on fumbles before Florida broke through for a pair of second-half
touchdowns. By then end of the game, LSU’s defense had played an
exhausting 70 snaps and had been on the field for nearly two-thirds
of the game (37:24).
”We did have a couple miscues but I feel like we improved a
lot,” said LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, the SEC defensive player
of the week after making 20 tackles (one short of a school record),
registering two sacks and forcing a fumble. ”This was probably our
best game that we played, I feel like, especially with the
competition we were going against. Florida has a ridiculous amount
LSU coach Les Miles called his defense’s performance
”tremendous,” and said both side of the ball are playing with
plenty of effort.
Still, he acknowledged the anemic state of the offense threatens
to undermine LSU’s season if its execution does not improve.
”We have to play smarter,” Miles said. ”We have to run it and
throw it better.”
LSU has averaged nearly 200 yards on the ground this season,
though much of that has come against overmatched opponents. The
Tigers managed only 42 yards rushing against the Gators, and the
passing game did little to offset the Tigers’ struggles on the
ground. Mettenberger completed fewer than half his passes for 158
yards, was intercepted once on an overthrow of an open receiver and
was sacked four times.
”All of us are making our mistakes at inopportune times,”
Mettenberger said. ”It’s a learning process.”
That process has been slowed somewhat by injuries, particularly
to the Tigers’ top offensive lineman, left tackle Chris Faulk. That
has forced some shuffling up front, but Miles said LSU has
recruited well and has the talent to fill the voids. The key is how
quickly the new starters learn from their mistakes.
”We enjoy the fact that there are some young guys being trained
and playing key football early in this season so that we can be the
best later in the season,” Miles said.
Mettenberger and quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe have
discussed ways to deal with the pass rush while the reformed
offensive line jells, and they decided the shotgun formation was
not the answer. Mettenberger said taking the snap under center with
a five-step drop allows him to read the defense better than if he
has to take his eyes off the opponent momentarily to catch a
Miles also said it may be time to call more plays for powerful
running back Spencer Ware, last season’s second-leading rusher.
”He is a guy that, in my opinion, is a pretty dangerous weapon
and someone that we have to use more frequently,” Miles said.
Miles said Mettenberger is continuing to improve, and that
everything from dropped balls to fumbles like the one Odell Beckham
Jr. had deep in Florida territory are as much to blame for the
offense’s struggles as any mistakes by the quarterback.
Jarvis Landry said he and fellow receivers plan to work extra
with the quarterbacks after practice, as they did last week, in
hopes of improving their timing and chemistry.
”Right now it’s just trying to work on trust – trust with Zach
and timing,” Landry said. ”For an effective passing game, those
things are the highest requirement. It’s just being in right place
at the right time and Zach trusting us to be there and letting the