LSU narrowly escaped an upset by North Carolina last Saturday and needs to make improvements if they want any chance of competing in the Southeastern Conference this season.
Most of the issues that need improvement come from the coaching staff, mainly head coach Les Miles.
Miles needs to step his game up if he ever wants to win back the Tiger fans and prove to them that he is capable of leading the Tigers back to championship form.
Poor game management has cost the Tigers dearly in the past and almost cost them a victory over No. 16 UNC in Week 1.
In this Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt, Miles needs to show his team and the fans that he has the killer instinct necessary to put an opponent away when they are on the ropes.
Miles needs to rout the Commodores as badly as possible Saturday, and this comes down to two main factors.
First, he must give Russell Shepard more touches. The man is a playmaking factory and Miles needs to keep going to him until the defense proves that they can stop him.
Anything less than 15 touches for Shepard this week is a mistake. Even touches in which Shepard does not make the big play open up opportunities for others, mainly Rueben Randle downfield.
Next, Miles needs to let his defense go all-out for the entire game. The defensive pressure in the first half against UNC was outstanding. The Tigers lived in the UNC back field and had the Tar Heels on the ropes and lacking confidence.
However, in the second half, they called off the dogs and allowed UNC to regain confidence and move the ball.
Les Miles and the Tigers need to use this week against an inferior Vanderbilt team to work on improving. Anything short of a 40-point rout of the Commodores is an underachievement.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime with a 30-10 lead against UNC, LSU, compliments of Les Miles, looked to come out with the idea of running out the clock rather than putting one or two more drives together to finish off their opponent.
The complacent second half offense and defense almost cost the Tigers the game, as UNC mounted a fourth-quarter comeback with a chance to win on the last play of the game.
If Miles is going to prove to fans that he can get the Tigers back to championship form, he needs to keep his foot on the gas Saturday against Vanderbilt and put some big numbers on the scoreboard.
The Tiger defense was dominant in the first half against UNC, practically living in the Tar Heel backfield. Still, the Tigers lost the turnover battle five to three.
You hate to think of a conference opponent as a practice game, but that is exactly what Vanderbilt is.
It is a good chance for the Tigers to practice in live action as the Commodores pose no threat to beat LSU, even on their home field in Nashville.
LSU needs to play the entire game defensively like they played the first half against UNC. They need to keep the pressure on Vandy for the entire game and never stop coming after the quarterback.
If they do this, LSU can prove that they are one of the best defenses in the nation.
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers must get the ball into the hands of their best playmaker, Russell Shepard.
Shepard simply makes things happen. Single digit touches for Shepard is just not enough.
The Tigers must make a statement and get the ball into Shepard’s hands a minimum of 15 times against Vanderbilt.
Giving the ball to Shepard forces the defense up, exposing them to big plays down the field to Rueben Randle and Terrence Toliver.
Simply stated, the offense starts with Russell Shepard.
Jordan Jefferson, like many young, athletic quarterbacks, does not know when or how to take a sack and move on to the next play.
Instead, Jefferson has the tendency to keep dropping back when he sees pressure, turning a five-yard sack into a 15-yard loss.
If the Tigers are going to contend in the Southeastern Conference, Jefferson must learn to minimize losses.
Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt will be a great time to practice.
Most Tiger fans probably can’t remember the last time they saw their team play a complete 60 minutes of football. The Tigers seem to play one half with full intensity and the other with none.
Whether this is because the coaches are reining them in or because the coaches are just not keeping them motivated, it needs to be corrected if the Tigers want to have any chance of competing in the SEC.
Hopefully, the Tigers will make this correction against an easy opponent in Vanderbilt and play a full game with the intensity that they played the first half against UNC.