“One thing about it is we don’t intend to lose in that room very often,” Les Miles said at his weekly press luncheon. “But when that room comes together and understands that there was something that they could have done to play better and allow our team to have success on last Saturday, it really gives a spirit of let’s get it fixed, let’s practice, let’s prepare. I think that’s what we’re seeing. I think our team will respond very favorably to what was a showing that we could have played better.”
The coaches met with the players at 6:45 on Monday morning to talk about the game and what needs to be done going forward.
Miles said that the mistakes that were made down in the Swamp are correctable and he thinks his team will respond to the challenge that awaits them in Columbia.
Before moving on to South Carolina though, there are some issues that the coaches will address this week.
One thing that did surprise the Tigers was just how loud the crowd was, particularly in the case of redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee, who made his first career start on the road.
Lee completed 22 of 38 through the air for 209 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, but he looked rattled and indecisive much of the night.
“I don’t know necessarily, even if it’s (Jarrett Lee’s) nerves,” Miles said. “We have to make sure that the things that we give him are over scripted, over planned, especially early on…We’re going to throw the football. It’s just that simple, but we probably need to give him some things that speak to his strengths.”
Lee didn’t get much help from the running game as Florida loaded up the box and the defensive linemen had their way with LSU's front. That’s at least how some saw it on Saturday, but Miles doesn’t necessarily agree with that assessment.
“Individually, they played surprisingly well, but as a group, it just seemed that there was a mistake about once a play, and it was not necessarily any one guy but one guy on every play, and it really affected us early on,” Miles said. “They got it together and started playing better. We really ran the football pretty efficiently but by the strategy of the game and the score, we really couldn’t afford to run it. They didn’t play badly. It’s just that they played poorly at the wrong time.”
With a veteran offensive line in place, Miles feels that the unit will learn from their mistakes and get better.
Another unit that must improve is the secondary because there have been too many blown assignments that have put the Tigers in a hole this season.
“It’s got to get fixed, and you and I agree, it’s too regular,” said Miles. “I promise you we are coaching and directing and doing what we can. Our guys, certainly, want to fix it too. That’s certainly an issue for us.”
Perhaps the most glaring issue for the Tiger defense, along with blown assignments, has been the inability to create turnovers and pressure the quarterback.
LSU has forced only four turnovers in five games and is yielding 22.4 points a game to the opposition.
Some want to point the finger at co-defensive coordinators Bradley Dale Peveto and Doug Mallory, but Miles said the guys are in position to make the plays.
“I think there are some young guys playing some key positions for us who are not necessarily just in a groove at this point,” said Miles. “I can tell you that some of our veterans, in my opinion, are not playing the style of football that they are used to playing.
“I think injury may well have played a part in one guy, but overall, I think the veterans are playing the way they should be playing and a couple of guys who need some adjustment to be made as we go forward. I think the defense can return to the style of defense that we’ve played here in the past.”
Dwelling on the past will not do any good for Miles or the Tigers because they face a dangerous opponent in South Carolina.
If they do dwell on the setback in Florida then the Gamecocks could really put a damper on LSU’s season.
“South Carolina, in my opinion, is a very talented, 5-2 team, a team that leads the conference in defense, third in the nation in defense, plays a very good scheme, and has a big, strong force unit,” Miles said.
Offensively, the Gamecocks are in a situation where they have two quarterbacks vying for the starting job, which has become the norm under Steve Spurrier.
“They play with two quarterbacks,” Miles said. “It appears that (Stephen) Garcia came in and led the comeback and scored in his last two drives and may well get the nod going into this next game. I know both players, (Chris) Smelley and Garcia, are good quality quarterbacks, guys that we reviewed.”
Who’s to Blame
Miles said there were some things McCray could have done better, but there are others who failed to do their part on that big play.
“I would like to have had our safety over the top on that play,” Miles said. “Danny (McCray) had responsibility for underneath coverage and was in great position on the play. Had he played the ball obviously a little bit better, he would have come down with it, but if he played the route a little more vertical, he would have come down with it.
“The truth of the matter is we would’ve liked to have had our free safety on top of that ball in position to make a play,” added Miles. “It’s the style of play that certainly is a tremendous momentum swing for our opponent. Third down and 12, and instead of a pick or at least an incomplete pass, it’s a big touchdown. I told Danny he’s so close to making that play that it’s well within his grasp. That’s what I wanted him to understand.”