LSU begins two-week prep for Alabama
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — LSU coach Les Miles is already giving Alabama something to think about, two weeks away from their showdown in Death Valley.
The Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) head into the month of November with one loss or fewer for the sixth time in eight years following Saturday’s 24-19 win over Texas A&M. LSU has an open date before hosting top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 3,
The Crimson Tide wasn’t on Miles’ mind moments after LSU rallied to beat the Aggies at Kyle Field.
“We’re going to get on the plane,” Miles said. “We’re going to head home. We’re going to find us a big flat-screen TV somewhere. Eat heavily, watch the games, and probably tomorrow sometime we’ll likely meet with the team and describe the game and kind of fix it, talk about the things we did good and the things we didn’t.”
Long passes were one of the things LSU didn’t do well against Texas A&M.
Zach Mettenberger completed only 11 of 29 passes for 97 yards. He did throw a 29-yard TD pass to Kadron Boone that put LSU ahead for good just before halftime. Otherwise, he completed no pass longer than 17 yards and overthrew some open receivers down the field.
The Tigers have two weeks to fix that — and maybe work on some deep throws to try against the Tide.
“We’re going to hit some of those deep shots eventually,” Miles said.
Mettenberger said the Aggies stacked the line of scrimmage to stop LSU’s running attack, something he hadn’t seen other opponents try yet this season. That created opportunities for long passes, but Mettenberger said the swirling wind at Kyle Field affected his touch.
“It was really tough to throw those deep balls accurately today,” he said. “Before this game, we really hadn’t taken many shots downfield. Next time, we have to capitalize on the deep balls.”
The Tigers weren’t biting on questions about the Tide after Saturday’s hard-fought win.
LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime in Tuscaloosa last Nov. 5. The Crimson Tide then dominated the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS championship game.
“We can’t look into that right now,” running back Michael Ford said. “We have to go and make corrections from this game.”
And there will be plenty of those, particularly from the first quarter and a half. The Aggies (5-2, 2-2) and their no-huddle offense kept the Tigers off balance early and dropped LSU into a 12-0 deficit, its biggest since last year’s championship game.
As the first half wore on, LSU’s defense started to figure out A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel, who came into the game leading the SEC in total offense. Freshman Jalen Collins got the Tigers going when he intercepted Manziel’s pass near midfield. Collins was making his first.
Ford finished the resulting drive with a 20-yard touchdown run, the 13th of his career.
Texas A&M’s Ben Malena then fumbled at the Aggies’ 42, and Boone made a diving, over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone with 11 seconds left before the break. LSU also converted another Manziel interception into a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been in situations like that before,” defensive end Sam Montgomery said about trailing early. “We know how to fight our way out of those situations. The game is not over until the fourth quarter.”
LSU’s offense would like to help the defense a bit more. The Tigers failed to score a touchdown in the first quarter for the third straight game, and they’re averaging only 16 points in their four SEC games.
“Our job as an offensive group is we have to start clicking more, start scoring points earlier,” Boone said.
A&M outgained LSU 410-316, and the Tigers went a paltry 2-for-16 on third down. As long as the Tigers keep winning, though, the defense doesn’t mind carrying the load.
“They had more yards than us,” junior defensive end Barkevious Mingo said of the Aggies. “They passed for more and ran for more. But our offense did what they needed to.”
LSU plays its next three games at home before wrapping up the regular season at Arkansas. The Tigers have won 22 straight games in Death Valley, the nation’s longest current streak and the longest in school history.