Uneven performance against Towson gives LSU chance to re-evaluate itself
Third-ranked LSU played its final nonconference game Saturday night in a game that represented everything you might imagine in a nonconference game.
Tiger Stadium was about half empty to watch LSU play a team most of its fans couldn’t locate on a map. A tailgate-ruining rain that fell most of the day stopped only an hour before kickoff.
When the game started, the Tigers looked uninspired, falling behind Towson by two in the first half. They regrouped in time to salvage a 38-22 win, but their FCS visitor scored more points against LSU than any team since Oregon in the 2011 season opener.
It was the kind of effort that had coach Les Miles in a somber mood.
“I thought we played down to our opponent,” Miles said. “I must not well have prepared them.”
The Tigers had wrapped up a September schedule that included out-of-conference games against North Texas, Washington, Idaho and Towson — all at home. A schedule whose only conference test came against an Auburn team that nearly lost its first three games.
That’s over now.
LSU visits “The Swamp” next week to play a Florida team that has already scored road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee. That starts a five-game stretch that includes four ranked opponents — a stretch that will make or break LSU’s shot at a national title.
“We’ve just got to take a look in the mirror and see what kind of team we’re going to be next week,” quarterback Zach Mettenberger said. “It’s gut-check time.”
All seemed to be in order with the Tigers through three games, including a 41-3 rout of Washington that could have been worse.
But a week after surviving a scare at Auburn, LSU showed again Saturday it has plenty of areas to address before reaching the championship level of last year.
Like ball security. The Tigers lost three fumbles Saturday.
Like pass protection. Mettenberger was sacked three times by Towson defenders.
Like missed tackles. Towson had 188 rushing yards — many of them after contact.
“We just need to change our mentality,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “We need to focus a little more and strive each day to be better.”
With the first month of the season behind them, the Tigers know they have to ge things fixed in a hurry. The meat of the schedule is here.
“There are some things we need to get accomplished this week,” Miles said. “I think our team will come to work with much more focus, as well they should.”