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.''