Saban moves on to Utah State preparations

LSU head coach Nick Saban has reviewed the game tape of the Tigers' 48-17 win over Tulane and told reporters Monday he was pleased with various aspects of his team's performance and their overall effort level. But the tape also showed Saban where LSU is in need of improvement, and he plans to get to work on those specific areas starting with today's practice.

Saban reiterated his statements following Saturday's win over Tulane, praising the play of his special team units that set up three scoring opportunities in the first half and kept Tulane deep in their own territory throughout the game.

As for the weaknesses he spotted on offense, Saban cited difficulties in the passing game and consistency in the running game.

"Our timing in the passing game probably needs to get sharper," said Saban. "We need to get a hat on a hat more consistently. We had a lot of running yardage and some big plays running…but I think we need to make sure we're getting a hat on a hat so we don't have bad plays when running the ball."

Defensively, Saban expressed his concern over the unit's susceptibility to the big play. Five of Tulane's passing plays gained over 20 yards each, and one running play gained over 15. Saban attributed the big run to a missed tackle but said the miscues in the passing game, while correctable, may lead him to re-evaluate the personnel he is using.

"You've got to give the other team some credit that they have good players who will, on occasion, make plays," Saban said. "But I also think we have to do a much better job of not allowing big plays to occur because we'll give away too many points to be able to overcome it down the road."

The changes in personnel may come at the cornerback position, Saban indicated. Norman LeJeune started his first game at left corner against Tulane after playing safety all of last season. Demetrius Hoofkin started at right corner and drew praise from Saban for his performance. The coach said Hookfin and Robert Davis, who backed up LeJeune, have a good chance of being named starters although the depth chart released Monday for the Utah State game shows Hookfin and LeJeune at the same positions.

All of the LSU players Tiger Rag spoke with Monday afternoon echoed Saban's comments on the need for improvement, specifically the defensive players. Strong safety Lionel Thomas called the Tulane game a "learning experience" that will help the team improve for Utah State.

"We made mistakes here and there, which is expected in the first game," said Thomas. "All we can do is learn from that, so we're going to start practice today correcting our errors and getting started for the next game."

The injury report on Monday was brief, as only one player is questionable for the Utah State game and three more will miss practice today. Fullback Solomon Lee's status is up in the air following a knee injury he suffered against Tulane, but he is not expected to miss a considerable amount of time.

Running back/safety Domanick Davis and wide receiver Michael Clayton will sit out Monday's practice with knee bruises, and offensive guard Stephen Peterman will be held out following a hip pointer injury.

Saban expects Utah State to provide a more balanced attack on offense compared to Tulane and revert to gadget plays and trickery to score. The main focus of the Aggies attack is to get the ball into the hands of All-American Emmett White, their running back who is on the Doak Walker Award Watch List.

And even though Utah State had statistically one of the worse defenses in Division I football last season, Saban said he saw a great deal of improvement from the unit in Utah State's 23-19 loss to Utah on Saturday.

With Auburn on the schedule the week following Utah State, Saban said it is crucial for his players to keep their focus on what lies directly ahead instead of looking forward to Southeastern Conference play.

"Anyone on this team looking ahead to Auburn needs his head examined," he said.


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