Defense still has room to improve

After a dominant first half, Auburn racked up 333 yards of offense in the final three quarters of Saturday's game. LSU may be 4-0, but the defense knows it has plenty of room to grow moving forward.

When asked about his team surrendering 333 yards defensively in the second half Saturday against Auburn, Les Miles gave a simple, frustrated response.

"Harrumph," he said.

That pretty much sums it up.

LSU dominated Auburn in the first half, holding them to just 104 yards of offense. Auburn didn't cross the LSU 40-yard line until the third quarter, and went into halftime with a goose egg on the scoreboard.

But something changed after halftime. Auburn scored all three of its touchdowns in the final 28 minutes of the game, bleeding the LSU defense for 140 second-half rushing yards.

The LSU defenders couldn't explain that late insurgence from its opponent. But they all agreed it exposed something LSU will need to improve on heading into the meat of SEC play.

"This was a great test," said senior LB Lamin Barrow. "We pretty much dominated the first half. But it showed we need to keep playing four quarters. We came out flat in the second half. We're making strides but there are things we need to work on."

Fatigue might have been a factor. The fast-paced Auburn offense ran 85 total plays, 48 in the second half. With a thin rotation especially along the defensive line, it's hard to fault the LSU defense for tiring late.

But most waved off that notion.

"You could say that, but we're in great shape to start the season," said D.J. Welter, who led the team with 11 tackles. "We played a lot more in this game than we had in the past. They just started to pop through the middle. We made some minor mistakes, but we could have shut that down."

LSU can point to a pair of big plays that accounted for a good chunk of that second-half yardage. Auburn QB Nick Marshall found Sammie Coates for two deep passes, one for 42 yards and another for 31, late in the game.

Coates got the best of freshman Tre'Davious White on the first play, and Jalen Mills was the next culprit.

"We knew they had to come out throwing [in the second half]," Mills said. "They had to get down the field somehow. We just have to get our technique better and maybe work more on deep ball drills."

Mills did redeem himself. Marshall tried to go deep again to Coates late in the game, but Mills read the underthrown ball and came up with the interception, one of three turnovers LSU forced in the game.

That's something this LSU defense can say it accomplished. Entering the game, the Tigers had only forced three turnovers all season, and making those types of plays was something John Chavis stressed during the week.

"That helps out a lot," Jordan Allen said. "When you get a couple turnovers, our offense has the juice to run it back down there and score for us. If we can keep that up and make sure we get a couple each game, that'll help the offense."

The offense will need all the help it can get next week when LSU travels to No. 9 Georgia to face that high-powered Bulldog attack. With stars like Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley, Georgia certainly has the weapons to rack up yardage against a LSU defense that's still trying to find its own identity.

But these defenders said they look forward to that challenge, and will devote this coming week to sorting out the glaring issues.

"We always improve on everything," Allen said. "We find nicks here and there, blown assignments and poor communication. We go back and fix that."

Where do you think the defense needs the biggest improvement?


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