LSU Football: 5 Improvements the Tigers Should Make During Bye Week
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After having their No. 1 rushing defense shredded by the Auburn Tigers with Cam Newton and company, the LSU Tigers were left to ponder their mistakes and lick their wounds during their bye week.
But even with the bye week, the Tigers will have precious little time to waste on pity or woulda, coulda, shoulda stuff. The Tigers will need to recover and refocus their attention on the next Alabama team coming into Baton Rouge: The Alabama Crimson Tide will come calling on Nov. 6.
Even though the score was closer than the statistics show that it should have been, the LSU Tigers made enough mistakes on both sides of the ball to necessitate going back to basics and concentrating on correcting their mistakes.
Sure, Auburn's Cam Newton, in particular, has made most defenses look bad when he gets past the line of scrimmage, and unfortunately, LSU was not able to contain Newton and they left him with too many options.
The only good news for LSU is they don't have to play this weekend, so they will have time to work on the errors that caused them so many problems against Auburn.
I still believe LSU has a very good and talented defense, and I think they will bounce back against Alabama, but the Tiger offense will need to step up and start making some plays if these LSU Tigers are to have a chance to defeat Alabama.
If LSU will take advantage of this time afforded them, they can recover and be ready for Alabama.
The following are areas that I feel LSU should spend time working on if they are to put themselves in the position to beat their former coach and his "Damn Strong Team."
Install Lee as Starter and Give Him Work with Offense
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During the Auburn game, LSU only attempted a few downfield passing attempts, and the pass was either dropped, overthrown or intercepted when thrown by Jefferson.
It is time for Les Miles and Gary Crowton to stop making statements like we need to improve in the quarterback position and just throw more balls in practice.
It is way past time for saying we need to improve at quarterback, as it is time to come to the obvious conclusion that Jordan Jefferson is just not a passer, and that Jarrett Lee is a pretty good passer if they will install him as the starter and let him execute the offense.
Every time Jefferson has started he has either stalled the drive with inaccurate passes or he throws and interception. The only way to solve the quarterback position is to make the move and reverse the quarterback roles.
It always seems that Lee has to be the one to produce the miracle after the cause is almost lost with Jefferson's in ability to move the team.
We have already seen what Randle and Toliver can do when the ball is thrown to them accurately, so it is time to remove Jefferson and use him as the running quarterback and let Lee have the majority of the snaps.
This is the last time they will have this opportunity to move this offense from a one dimensional offense to a balanced attack. This team is doomed if they don't make these changes NOW.
Big Cat Drills: Offensive Linemen vs. Defensive Linemen
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During the Auburn game, it seemed that Nick Fairley was going through, over and around the LSU offensive linemen all afternoon.
During the spring and fan drills, coach Les Miles instituted a drill he calls "The Big Cat Drills" where he pits one offensive lineman against one defensive lineman to see who can out maneuver or out muscle the other.
The idea is to teach aggressiveness and toughness on both sides of the line in one-on-one competition.
Of course, judging from the way LSU's linemen were being handled by Fairley and other Auburn linemen, the Tigers appear to be in desperate need of this drill.
This Big Cat Drill will also reveal a weak link or a lineman that is not giving his all. It may also reveal a lack of proper technique and then good coaching can take care of that problem.
One of the best things about this drill is that it will accomplish the same objective for the defensive and offensive lineman as both linemen are tested to see what they are made of.
LSU will need this drill to help them refocus on improving on both sides of the ball since they are playing a very physical Alabama team on Nov. 6.
They will need both physical and mental toughness to mix it up with Alabama.
Offensive Linemen Run and Pass Blocking Assignments
LSU offensive line
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In order to regroup and improve on the offensive line's execution and techniques, it will be necessary for LSU to spend this off-week working on the basics of run and pass blocking. This is the time for hands on coaching by spotting weaknesses and coaching them up.
As I said earlier, Auburn's defensive line lived in LSU's backfield last week end, and hopefully that was an eye-opener for the coaches to see that they need to spend this time correcting those blocking errors.
LSU had been showing a much improved offensive line during the earlier part of the year, but during the last few weeks, they have not looked very sharp. Steven Ridely has gone from being the leading ground-gainer in the SEC to now being ranked as fourth.
During the Auburn game, it was a glaring problem as they were only able to rush for 119 yards and Jefferson had over 80 on quarterback-keep plays.
If LSU is to expect to achieve an effective and productive offense, it all begins with the offensive line.
You can't expect a running back to make yards if he has no where to go and you can't expect good passing efficiency if the quarterback does not have enough time to make the throws.
LSU will be facing a very good and solid run defense in Alabama and this extra time spent on run and pass blocking techniques will be absolutely necessary if LSU expects it's offense to be able to score points.
There must be offensive line improvement if LSU is to score points and allow LSU to win their remaining games.
Defensive Line Techniques and Blitz Play Calls
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Prior to the Auburn game, LSU had the No. 1 ranked defense in the SEC and No. 5 in the nation.
However, since Cam Newton and his company of running backs ran through the LSU defense, they are now ranked at No. 7 in the SEC in run defense, but they are still No. 1 overall in total defense.
With the loss of Sam Montgomery and Lavar Edwards to injuries, it has opened up opportunities for new and talented young defensive linemen to fill in. LSU has recruited very well in the last five years, and with players like Michael Brockers and Barkevious Mingo, the Tigers should continue to present a formidable defense.
With this weekend's open date, it will be a good time for the Tiger coaches to iron out the kinks from the Auburn game and help coach up star lineman Drake Nevis and others with work on their techniques and timing.
The Auburn game was the only game I can remember where Drake Nevis was not been a total dominant force. Auburn's offensive line did a great job in controlling Nevis and the LSU coaches need to make the necessary adjustments.
One of LSU 's other glaring failures against Auburn, was the lack of an aggressive pass rush with a combination of blitz packages.
I don't remember seeing any LSU blitzes as they seemed content to sit back and invite Newton to run on them, and obviously that was not a good idea as we now see the rushing results.
If LSU plans to control Alabama's offense, they are going to have to stop both the run and the pass, so making proper calls in this game will be critical. But, I think you have to be aggressive against a team like Alabama or they will run all over you.
It will be mandatory for LSU to work on defensive communications and use their blitz packages against one of the masters in Nick Saban.
Practice Game Management Procedures
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Since last year's famous clock management gone wild game against Ole Miss, coach Les Miles and his staff have become the bunt of many jokes when referring to the end of game time management issues.
LSU lost the Ole Miss game because the coaching staff and players were totally confused as they ran out of time as the game ended and LSU lost by one point.
Miles promised all concerned and assured all Tiger Fans that this issue was all under control and that it would not happen again.
But, much of the same problem occurred again at the end of the Capital One Bowl against Penn State as LSU lost that game, also.
Now, this year in the Tennessee game, there were 36 seconds to go in the game with the ball on the three-yard line, and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton called a play and everybody including quarterback Jordan Jefferson got confused as receivers were running on and off the field.
Fortunately for LSU, Tennessee was caught with 13 players on the field and LSU was given a final chance to score a TD and Steven Ridley did score to win for LSU.
Then last week in the Auburn game, with fourth down and three minutes to go as LSU was coming out of a time out, the receivers again became confused about the play.
LSU got the play off but it was not a successful play and LSU had to turn the ball over to Auburn on downs.
So, it is rather obvious that LSU has still not demonstrated to anyone that they have solved their end game management issues. Therefore, I think it would be a very good idea for Coach Miles, the staff and the players to practice and formulate a plan to make sure these issues don't continue to happen in the Alabama game.
Coach Les Miles has to take all of the blame in each one of these issues, so maybe it would be good idea if he just would take over the game calling when the clock is inside of three minutes to go. Work is definitely needed.