Not the best defensive effort, but it'll do

No. 9 LSU might not have played their best defensive game of the season on Saturday against Mississippi State, but they might not have to every game this season.

The Tigers went into Saturday's contest as the top defense in all the land, and they played well, just not the entire game. But the LSU defense might not have needed to play their best game or even a good game against some of their weaker opponents this season.


With the way the offense is destroying opponent's defenses, led by JaMarcus Russell and company, the defense doesn't have to be the backbone of the team like in years past.


Amazingly, it seems as though the two different sides of the ball are making each other better. If the defense is shutting down offensive schemes, then Russell and company don't have to put together last minute drives or throw up last second passes.


When the offense is producing points and yardage, then the defensive backfield can sit back and defend the pass, which is the Tigers most talented and experienced group on defense.


"It's a lot of pressure for the guys to put points on the board and they do a great job," sophomore linebacker Darry Beckwith said. "It makes our job a lot easier when we have a lead because it shortens their playbook."


Saturdays contest against State is a good example of both sides of the ball helping each other out. In the first half, the LSU defense took control of game when they forced MSU to a three and out on the first series of the game, allowing only four hard-fought yards.


Six plays later, Russell ended the game for the Bulldogs with a nine-yard touchdown throw to Craig "Buster" Davis. With not even five minutes off the clock, the LSU defense already had a lead to play with.


At the end of the first half, the LSU defense allowed only 73 yards of total offense. The front seven dominated the line of scrimmage pushing the State running game backward for negative-five yards. Through the air, State accumulated 78 yards mostly on two plays. 


In the second half, defensive substitutions were made, and a 52 minute rain-delay incurred due to a small band of thunderstorms that swept through the Baton Rouge area. Once play resumed, the intensity level was noticeably dropped and State began to move the ball.


"Half time is tough enough to come back out of," defensive back Chevis Jackson said. "Coach Pelini just emphasized that we needed to jump back on them like we did at the beginning of the game. We probably dropped [our intensity] just a little bit. Conner was able to get into a rhythm."


Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey said the starters returned only for about 20 percent of the second half. Dorsey said the second and third string defenses were out there for the majority of the second half, but that it is no excuse for the let up in intensity.


According to Dorsey, he and his teammates take their stats and rankings very seriously.


"Strategy never changed today," Dorsey said. "We still come out like its still zero-zero. Anything can give a team a spark. So we are going to come out and be relentless. The guys that came before us set the bar high so we have to meet that bar."


Dorsey and the LSU defense got a chance to see just how talented MSU quarterback Omarr Conner is. When provided protection in the second half, State was able to put together 153 yards of total offense, almost doubling their first-half production.


"Hats off to him," Dorsey said. "He came off with some big plays today. He's a good player."


The defensive intensity might have let up in the second half, but that can't happen against Florida if the Tigers want to leave Gainesville with a victory on Saturday. LSU will embark on only their second road game of the season when they leave for Florida, and are 0-1 on the road this season.


No. 5 Florida is currently undefeated and ranked higher than LSU, so the Tigers know just how important this game is on a national scale.


"Hard, tough nose game," Dorsey said. "They are going to bring there best game and we are going to bring ours. We are going to practice all week and the coaches are going to get the game plan together. You can expect a well, good, physical game. It's going to be a battle at Florida."


In 2005, the LSU defense composed possibly is best showing of the season against Florida in Tiger Stadium. The Tigers held Florida to just 206 total yards of offense on the day and stopped them on their final drive to win the game for a 21-17 LSU win.


"It will be a challenge, but our defense always looks for a challenge," defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois said. "If they are ready, we are always ready. If you think last year was impressive, wait until you see this year."

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