LSU's Ed Orgeron has been Mr. Fix It amid a 1-2 start and an open week
BATON ROUGE - LSU is looking for a defense, a quarterback, a red zone offense, and a win over somebody other than Vanderbilt.
That about covers it.
So, Coach Ed Orgeron had no trouble finding something to work on during three practice days last week with no game on Saturday to prepare for as a trip to Florida was postponed until Dec. 12 because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Gators' program.
"Last week, we spent most of the week fixing LSU," Orgeron said. "Some of the things we worked on were simplifying our defense, our communication, tackling and fundamentals."
It was spring in October for the Tigers (1-2), who are a six-point favorite by BetMGM for their home game against South Carolina (2-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium on ESPN.
An open tryout for a quarterback among true freshmen Max Johnson and TJ Finley went into its second week as junior starter Myles Brennan is still nursing a lower body injury that he suffered in the Tigers' 45-41 loss at Missouri on Oct. 10. Brennan has not practiced since the week of the Missouri game and is questionable for Saturday.
if Brennan cannot go, Orgeron plans to play both Johnson and Finley.
"We'll see what South Carolina gives us on defense and who best suits to play it," Orgeron said.
South Carolina intercepted Auburn sophomore quarterback Bo Nix three times in a 30-22 win on Saturday.
"Last week, both of them were ready to start in The Swamp," Orgeron said. "So, they got prepared for that. They didn't know who was going to start, so it's going to be the same thing this week. Now, we're playing at home. It should be easier for them. But obviously being the first game for either one of them, it's going to be a little nervous for them. But I think both of them can handle it."
And so it goes, from Heisman Trophy winning senior quarterback Joe Burrow and a 15-0 national championship a season ago to possibly two true freshmen taking the first snaps of their collegiate careers.
At this time last year, LSU was already 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation. All the Tigers have so far this season is a 41-7 win at Vanderbilt. The two teams LSU has lost to - Mississippi State and Missouri - have beaten nobody else and are a combined 2-5.
"On offense, we started with the goal line, especially the 1-yard line, making better choices at the 1-yard line," Orgeron said. "I do believe we fixed it."
LSU was 0-for-10 on third downs at Missouri.
"We're identifying the problems on third down, fixing them. Better scheme, better execution," Orgeron said.
"We're going to fight, and we're going to keep fighting week to week," Brennan said after the Missouri loss. "We're going to get into the meeting room and the film room. We're going to fix the things we need to fix."
Orgeron boiled down his talented team's issues in one sentence that should challenge his assistant coaches.
"It's not how much we know. It's how much the players know," he said. "We did a lot of soul searching on what we tell the guys, how we tell them. They've got to be able to do that on the field."
Often, during the 44-34 season opening loss to Mississippi State and the loss at Missouri, LSU's defenders were not playing the same defense.
"We had a miscommunication against Missouri where one personnel grouping was in the game, and we called one defense," Orgeron explained. "Then they changed the personnel grouping. We changed the defense. Not everybody got the call. They should have. The call was sent in. That was one from the sideline that we should have done a better job of."
New LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini works from the sideline.
"The other ones were communication within the defensive scheme on the field," Orgeron said. "it's all about us making mistakes, not having the right gap fits, not aligning to formations, not making the proper calls, guys running wide open down the field. It all comes down to simple communication, what our guys can handle."
It all made for a busy "open" week.
"The whole week was about fixing LSU," Orgeron said. "We had a lot of things to fix."