Saban looks for answers against Florida

The performance of the LSU football team in its 26-18 loss to Tennessee on Saturday raised some questions for head coach Nick Saban, and he jokingly asked reporters during his weekly press luncheon if they had the answers. Regardless of where he finds them, Saban will need the answers them soon with No. 2 Florida coming to Tiger Stadium for a 2:30 p.m. contest on Saturday.

Saban said the two main deficiencies he saw in the Tigers performance against Tennessee were a lack of consistent pass protection and lapses in pass defenses. He added that his team's chances of winning were hurt when it was unable to extend its lead in the first half. The Volunteers, who were unable to get into the end zone in the first two quarters, scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter and wrestled control of the game from the Tigers, who had led 7-6 at halftime.

"We played hard and controlled the game for a long time, but we just couldn't overcome the mistakes that we made in the third quarter," said Saban. "The main thing was how they (Tennessee) went 1-7 on third downs in the first half, and then they went 8-10 in the second half."

Despite falling behind by 19 points, Saban credited his players with not throwing in the towel. Quarterback Rohan Davey led the LSU offense on successive scoring drives in the fourth quarter to get the Tigers to within 8 points, but the comeback attempt ended when Davey's last-second pass into the end zone fell incomplete.

"We could have folded our tents when they scored two touchdowns at the end, but we got our two-minute offense in and it kind of put them back on their heels," said center Rob Sale. "We punched them in the mouth and made them scramble because of what we were doing."

Sale and the rest of the Tigers who met with reporters on Monday were low-key in discussing their performance against Tennessee and their upcoming showdown with the Florida. Strong safety Lionel Thomas acknowledged the difficulties the secondary had containing Volunteers' wide receiver Kelley Washington. The man-to-man coverage LSU's cornerbacks employed was ineffective against Washington, who set a new school record with eleven catches for 256 yards.

"All we can do is tell them is to keep playing hard because," Thomas said regarding the corners.  "We, as safeties, haven't played the position. Hands-down, it's the hardest position to play on the field. You can ask anybody about that. You're on an island by yourself and you've got to make the play."

When asked by a reporter what adjustments he would make in the secondary for the Florida game, Saban turned the tables and asked the reporter, "You got any ideas?" which was met with laughter from the room.

"We don't have any different players," Saban explained. "We've played three different guys (at left corner) in three games. We can start the merry-go-round again or… I think all the guys we have (at cornerback) are capable of playing better, and we're going to stay committed to trying to help them be good players. I think they can be good players."

Saban could get a boost at the corner if senior Robert Davis is healthy enough to play against Florida. Davis practiced with the team Monday afternoon for the first time since injuring his knee against Utah State. 

"We don't know if he can or can't play," said Saban. "So later in the week, we'll see how he responds and the kind of confidence he gained in his injury. With the injury he has, that's the way it has to be and if he re-injures it while trying to come back, then he will obviously not be ready for awhile."

Davis, along with Thomas and running back LaBrandon Toefield, wore a red no-contact jersey at Monday's practice. Quarterback Rohan Davey, limping somewhat on his right leg, did not dress out for the light gear workout. But during his luncheon, Saban said the Tigers did not incur any injuries that would keep anyone out of the Florida game.

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