3 Improvements LSU Tigers Must Make Before Showdown with Georgia Bulldogs
Following a 35-21 win against Auburn, the LSU locker room seemed deflated.
Les Miles took the podium with an unsatisfied demeanor, a feeling that he and his team left a lot on the field Saturday night.
"Did LSU actually win this game?" Media members began to question the outcome of the contest following coach and player reactions to LSU's sloppy, dreary victory.
"I just know how good we can be," said Zach Mettenberger, who wasn't his normal giddy self.
A win is a win, but after Auburn fought back into the ball game, posting over 300 total yards in the second half, and LSU's offense stymied late in the fourth quarter, LSU's seemingly dominant performance in the first quarter changed course, just as the weather.
"Rough" is the way Miles described LSU's finish Saturday night. And though the Tigers had some great performances, particularly from Jeremy Hill, Jarvis Landry, Jalen Mills and D.J. Welter, there are plenty of improvements for this LSU team to make before playing Georgia this Saturday.
Keep Defense Off of the Field
The most glaring improvement LSU must concentrate on is subtracting its opponent's total plays from scrimmage.
Auburn ran 85 plays as opposed to LSU's 66. That simply can't happen. Yes, Gus Malzahn's offense is built around expanding drives with a hurry-up tempo, but 85 plays is far too many for LSU to defend.
As a result, LSU's defense grew glaringly tired in the second half, which led to Auburn racking up most of its total yardage.
With a bruising back like Todd Gurley and a pace-changer in Keith Marshall, LSU has to limit the time its defense sees the field against Georgia.
If Georgia is able to tire down LSU's defense like Auburn did, it will open the door for long passes by Aaron Murray and huge gains by his running back tandem.
In other words, if LSU allows a repeat of this against the Bulldogs, it will be a shootout in Athens.
Late Game Vanilla Play-Calling
The biggest reason LSU's defense wore down in the fourth quarter was because of the offense's three-and-outs.
Though LSU tried to run out the clock late in the game, the Tigers ran it straight ahead with a predictable I-form offense. What is this, 2012?
Auburn loaded up the box, stopped the run and was able to get the ball back twice in the fourth quarter under six minutes left to go.
That predictable play-calling has to go. Cam Cameron's offense thus far for LSU has been anything but vanilla.
However, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, LSU showed glimpses of last season with its insensible decision to rush between the guards against an eight-man box on consecutive series.
Running the clock is one thing, but trying to get the first down while ticking down the seconds is another.
Deep Ball Issues
Auburn's Nick Marshall hit two deep passes to Sammie Coates with Micah Eugene manning the safety position Saturday night.
The long passing plays set up two scores for Auburn, and it brought the Tigers back into the game against LSU.
The good news here is that Ronald Martin will be back for Georgia. Miles confirmed this immediately after the Auburn victory.
Though Martin's tackling isn't up to par with Micah Eugene's, his coverage was greatly missed.
The return of Martin will allow Eugene to move back over to the nickel position where he belongs. Eugene is excellent in blitzing off of the edge and making tackles in the secondary.
With Martin back in the lineup next Saturday, the Tigers should have a more stout pass defense going against one of the SEC's best, Aaron Murray.
Jake Martin is a Featured Columnist of Bleacher Report and a contributor for The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from The Sun Herald.
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