Despite turning the ball over five times, with four of them coming on their own side of the 50-yard line, LSU was able to hand the Gators their second loss of the season. Led by a powerful ground game and a strong defense, the Tigers got the win but coach Les Miles says they'll have to be better if they hope to beat Auburn on Saturday.
"We need to do some things better than we did them on Saturday," Miles says. "We can be a really fine football team and we're going to need to be. I think Auburn is good on defense, good on offense and has great special teams. We have to play well against that opponent."
Turnovers have been a problem for the Tigers this year, although they have been able to overcome them in all but one game. Against the Gators LSU runners put the ball on the grass three times and lost all three. It's so much of a concern for Miles that his team has been doing extra work during practice in addition to their normal drills each day.
"We have a period of ball security," Miles says. "Anybody who handles the ball operates an individual time frame where he practices contact on the ball. He practices being yanked on and pulled on. It's a fundamental that everybody should certainly be comfortable with at this time."
In addition to turnovers, the Tigers have had problems getting the ball to their playmakers often enough. One of the very best LSU has is senior Skyler Green. Despite his speed and elusiveness, Green has caught just 17 passes for 142 yards and no touchdowns. He has also carried the ball just three times for 49 yards. Those numbers aren't enough for Miles and he says LSU will have to find a way to get Green the ball more in addition to his duties as the return man for the Tigers.
"I think there a number of issues there. I think we are trying to do some things with other guys and that's certainly a part of it. And we have to get Skyler some more touches because he's too good of a player not to. We're trying to keep him fresh for special teams, but when a team decides not to punt to him, he didn't get the opportunity to touch the ball as many times. Our staff understands that it's a criteria for us and it's something we're working on."
LSU will be looking for its third consecutive win over Auburn in Tiger Stadium this Saturday night at 6:45 on ESPN while Auburn is hoping to win for the third time in four years against the Bengal Tigers. In face Auburn will be shooting for its fifth win in the last seven games against LSU and Miles says that he sees a team capable of doing just that because of their balance across the board.
"I think they have a really good scheme," Miles says. "I think that what they're doing works on play action with their quarterback, Cox, who does a tremendous job of getting the ball to an open receiver. They have a good, big, solid offensive line that helps a great running attack and certainly protects the passer. I think they're a really good offense."
For LSU the job is simple, keep winning and a trip to Atlanta will be theirs in the end. Just like Auburn and Alabama, LSU controls its own destiny. While a tough game remains with the Crimson Tide just down the road in addition to this weekend's tussle, Miles says that if and when his team puts it together they'll be tough to beat.
"I think our football team is accomplished," Miles says. "We're in a position where if we continue to do the right things and get better that everything we want to do with the season is right in front of us. The first piece of business is to get better. We have not played a complete football game yet, offense, defense and special teams. If we can do that, we might beat a lot of good teams."