In the aftermath of LSU's 38-22 win over Towson Saturday night, there were a lot of downtrodden players in purple and gold. Ditto for the head coach.
To a man they all lamented the lack of focus and the fact that LSU again played to the level of its opponent. Perhaps even more upsetting, at least to Les Miles, was this team's inability to show many of the improvements he said himself were imperative at the beginning of the week.
LSU had nine penalties a week ago. It was flagged 10 times versus Towson.
Zach Mettenberger was sacked two times at Auburn. He went down four times versus Towson (five if you count his self-inflicted fall).
LSU, specifically Mett, lost two fumbles on the Plains. The Tigers managed to put the ball on the turf five times versus Towson, losing three.
Even John Chavis' usually impenetrable defense grew tired of having to take the field against Towson. The final result: LSU's 'D' let up 188 yards rushing, including 86 to Towson quarterback Grant Enders.
Any way you slice it, it was an uninspired performance from a team that entered the week ranked third in the country and on the brink of making an oh-so-important trip to Gainesville next weekend.
The quotes following the game reflected as much.
Mettenberger, LSU's first-year starting quarterback, was probably the most vocal and open about the origin of the team's struggles.
"Myself, I was ready to play tonight, and a lot of the veterans on the team were ready to play tonight," started Mettenberger. "I just feel like the attitude before the game wasn't what it should've been, with a lot of guys getting ready for what they were going to do after the game. That's just the type of stuff we can't have to be a top-notch football team."
He then addressed the problems in pass protection and, more interestingly, voiced frustration about the direction - namely the lack of passing - of LSU's offense.
"I think it just kind of stayed the same," Mettenberger responded when asked if pass protection was better or worse than it was against Auburn. "Moving [Alex] Hurst to left tackle and Vadal [Alexander] to right is different for them, for sure. One sack, the corner blitz should've been picked up by the running back. Another one, J.C. [Copeland] missed his guy out of the backfield. Just stuff like that, we've got to clean up to where everybody is doing the right thing on every play.
"For what we had with Josh [Dworaczyk] being nicked up, I think that's the best situation we had (playing Hurst and Alexander). All in all I thought those guys played pretty well tonight."
On the identify of LSU's offense: "I feel like we still have a lot of the playbook that hasn't been tapped into yet, and we really need to get to it. Hopefully we can go out and practice hard this week and show Stud [Greg Studrawa] and [Steve] Kragthorpe and Coach Miles that we can throw the ball efficiently."
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. expressed a similar sentiment in postgame interviews.
"It's really just a trust between the coaches, the receivers and the quarterback all getting on the same page, just figuring out exactly what's going to work and what isn't going to work," Beckham mused. "In a way we're doing that. But we've got to keep continuing to develop our passing game."
Miles got to the point quickly, admitting what anybody who watched the game already knew.
"I thought that we played down to our opponent," Miles said. "I must not have prepared them well. I can tell you that we are looking forward to turning our attentions to Florida. I can tell you that it was a somber locker room ... To say that we made improvement, I can't say that. It was the same style of football that we played last week."
LSU's eighth-year coach also acknowledged he does have concerns about this team perhaps feeling it can turn it off and then turn it back on against stiffer competition.
"There are some things that we are going to do differently that will help us that way. Am I alarmed? Yes, absolutely," continued Miles. "I think it is time that we recognize that we cannot go on the path that we are on. It is not productive, and it is not the football we are used to. I can't tell you the last time we put the ball on the ground five times in a game."
On the Towson side of things, one visiting Tiger player got a lot off his chest when talking to reporters. It's pretty clear when you read the following quotes from defensive end Frank Beltre why one team came out with infinitely more energy and incentive.
"I feel like we were viewed as a little high school team," Beltre said frankly. "We were looked at as like nobody, to be honest with you. They called us Towsen, Towson State, they called us everything but what we are, Towson University. That's why when we came out, we punched them in the mouth, because they weren't ready for what we had."
Beltre wasn't finished there, though. Here's his take on LSU's glaring weakness.
"We should have beat them," explained Beltre. "We knew that was their weakness; they couldn't pass. So, that's what we attacked. We stopped their run game and they couldn't pass, and it showed. We prepared very well."
Finally, a few of the LSU players were candid about the poor attendance in the stands, something owed to both the opponent and the inclement weather. Senior tight end Chase Clement said it definitely didn't help the cause.
"The twelfth guy wasn't really there," said Clement. "The fans really do play a big part. They get you motivated out there. It was just kind of a dead feeling.
"But, at the end of the day, you've got to understand the circumstances, so we still love 'em."
- J.C. Copeland left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter. He was then later seen on crutches, with a huge bandage on his left knee, heading to the locker room before the contest was over. There's no immediate prognosis yet, but it had a similar feel to when Alfred Blue left the game in crutches against Idaho. Miles even talked after the game about the distinct possibility of having to play without Copeland for awhile.
- Miles said Josh Dworaczyk "could've" played tonight, but that he was more content letting him rest and trying out a new combination. He hinted that he'd likely stick with the rotation that played tonight on the offensive line at Florida. But, given the way he played everybody last week on the situation, that word may not be bond.
- Kevin Minter was as despondent as anybody in that locker room. He spoke pretty passionately, in his own way, about how terrible the performance was and blamed himself for any of the miscues the young linebackers may have had. He was pretty impressed, though, with both Kwon Alexander and Lamar Louis.
Postgame Pulse: Towson
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