LSU football and Ed Orgeron are in big trouble. No one needs an explanation – the truth of the matter is obvious. Losing at home to Auburn is bad enough.
By Matt Zemek
LSU had not done that in 22 years. What’s far worse is that this is not one of Auburn’s better teams – not even close. Some genuinely good Auburn squads have failed to win in Tiger Stadium in the 21st century. The fact that this Auburn team – which could easily finish the season 7-5 – beat LSU in Baton Rouge is genuinely embarrassing for the Bayou Bengals. Now they have to dust themselves off and go to Lexington to face a Kentucky team which is flying high after knocking off the Florida Gators at home for the first time since 1986. This is a very tough assignment for LSU – partly because of its own struggles, partly because Kentucky continues to be competitive and successful in the SEC.
1 – My kingdom for a tough offensive line
Among the various embarrassments LSU is enduring right now, the biggest is the lack of fortitude on the offensive line. It is mind-boggling how bad and how impotent this LSU offensive front has been in 2021. The lack of a running game was apparent against UCLA, but subsequent weeks against inferior opposition didn’t change the calculus. LSU then hit rock-bottom against Auburn, rushing for only 11 yards. ELEVEN! It is beyond comprehension that LSU, with access to elite talent in the state of Louisiana and throughout the Deep South, could be that hamstrung by a non-Georgia or non-Alabama defensive line in SEC play.
Yes, Auburn’s defensive line is genuinely good… but it’s not THAT good. LSU should not be anywhere close to such a ridiculously low number of rushing yards. Bayou Bengal linemen need to play with pride and toughness in this game. Coach O has to challenge the guys in his locker room (and I’m sure he’s doing exactly that), but a challenge means nothing if the players don’t respond. This really is a player’s game, a test of how the athletes on the field react after getting punched in the gut. Who will step up on the O-line and lead this team?
2 – Hit home runs, not singles
LSU stunned Kentucky on the Devery Henderson play roughly two decades ago. The Tigers can’t expect to win on a fluke play, but they can try to win again in Lexington by striking vertically. While LSU must try to run the ball better, it also needs to make its passing game more explosive. Shoot your shot – go for the home run and take chances. This offense isn’t good enough to go 80 yards in 16 plays and eight minutes. Work the run game, but when passing the ball, take bigger swings. Something needs to happen which jolts this offense into a position where it becomes more dangerous. The Tigers have to become a more threatening team for opponents to defend.
3 – Third down defense
Kentucky loves its ball-control offense and hammering out an aesthetically ugly 20-13 type of win based on defense, field position, and slowly leveraging a game in its favor. LSU can get in the way of that template by stopping the Wildcats on third down. Again, let’s see leaders emerge on the biggest plays of the game for LSU. That means more than any X-and-O consideration.