No. 10 LSU looking to correct defensive miscues
Les Miles and his coaching staff have spent this week shoring up a defense that is getting beat up.
For the first time in school history last Saturday, LSU scored 40 points and lost a football game in regulation for the first time in school history last Saturday when Aaron Murray and sixth-ranked Georgia beat the Tigers 44-41 in Athens.
The defense is allowing an 24 points and 347 yards per game.
"I think we had guys trying to do too much," Miles said of the loss to Georgia. "There was a signaling issue and a player-to-player communication difficulty. Those kinds of things we've gone over and over this week. I am optimistic those things won't repeat."
The Tigers can't afford to have a repeat performance like that one.
Georgia rolled up nearly 500 yards against LSU. Murray passed for 298 yards and four touchdowns, while tailbacks Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley combined for 169 yards rushing. The Tigers say the main issue was miscommunication, particularly among the defensive backs.
"Sometimes we just didn't get the call off the sidelines," said free safety Ronald Martin, who called a timeout in the second quarter when there was confusion in the secondary. "Then, we had problems echoing the call on the field. When a team runs a tempo offense, it's hard to get the call."
The LSU secondary was not helped by the play of the defensive line. The 10th-ranked Tigers had no sacks and no quarterback-hurries against Murray. For the season, LSU defensive linemen have accounted for just 5 1/2 sacks and nine quarterback-hurries.
"It's always a concern when the team can have the success Georgia did throwing the football," Miles said. "There are a couple of ways to approach it. You can add numbers to the rush or you can continue to prepare the guys who are your four best pass-rushers and get them better at it technically."
The Tigers will try to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time in five seasons when they visit Mississippi State on Saturday. LSU has won 20 of the past 21 meetings, including 13 in a row, between the schools. However, the Bulldogs have done well through the air - passing for 257.5 yards per game.
Mississippi State running back Ladarius Perkins praised the Tigers defense, but he expressed confidence in his team's ability to move the football.
"LSU has a good defensive line, good linebackers and a good secondary," Perkins said. "They play a lot of man coverage. All around, they move to the ball pretty fast. But if we execute like we should, we should make a lot of big plays."
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said that Tyler Russell will be the starting quarterback against the Tigers. Russell has not played since he suffered a concussion in the Bulldogs' season-opening loss to Oklahoma State. Dak Prescott performed quite well as Russell's replacement.
However, Russell had good numbers against LSU last season. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 295 yards in Mississippi State's 37-17 loss at Tiger Stadium. Mullen figures his offense must put up some points to keep up with LSU's offense.
"I don't know that watching (LSU-Georgia) game is encouraging," Mullen said. "We're going to have to score some points. To do that, we're going to have to execute at a very high level. We're going to have to make lot of plays against a talented defense."
Under Mullen, Mississippi State hasn't put up a lot of points against LSU. In Mullen's four seasons, the Bulldogs have scored more than 17 points once. In 2009, the Tigers needed a late goal-line stand to come away with a 30-26 victory. Mississippi State has scored a total of 30 points the past three years.
Mississippi State will be taking on a LSU defense which intends to make amends for what happened last Saturday.
"We know we are better than that," cornerback Jalen Mills said. "We are going to make the corrections. When you lose, you don't try to change your personality. We don't want to change that because we lost to Georgia. We just need to play LSU football."
AP Sports Writer David Brandt contributed to this story from Starkville, Miss.