Tigers insist offensive struggles are correctable
For two weeks, Les Miles and the players haven’t changed their answers to questions regarding the struggling offense.
The team just needs to execute. They’re one step away from being really dominant. They’re only making little mistakes that will be easily corrected.
Well something else hasn’t changed either: the offensive production.
Sandwiched around a befuddling mediocre game against Towson, LSU has averaged just 275.5 yards of total offense in its two Southeastern Conference games. Overall, the Tigers rank No. 9 in the SEC in that category and No. 12 in passing offense with 195.7 yards per game.
The individual struggles in SEC play have all been well-documented, and the five turnovers, 17 penalties and nine sacks allowed are evidence of a team that has work to do.
But Miles still doesn’t appear ready to hit the panic button.
“I’m not ready to say that we’re not going to be a really good football team here in the future,” Miles said. “We need to do the things that we can do, and do them extremely well. We need to execute them at a high level and make our opponents deal with it.”
People have come up with a number of reasons why LSU just hasn’t come through offensively.
Injuries along the offensive line are one. When Josh Williford went out with a concussion against Florida, it left two freshmen playing on the right side. With Alex Hurst also switching to left tackle, new faces in new spots would undoubtedly take time to become cohesive.
Playing on the road in front of 90,000 people certainly didn’t help that either.
“When you’re playing at an away stadium, you can’t always hear the guy on the side of you,” offensive guard La’El Collins said. “You might hear a play, and you have to relay it to him, and you might not get it off at the right time. That’s the advantage that the away team has.”
Though returning home should prove beneficial in that aspect, LSU’s opponent this Saturday won’t. South Carolina’s two defensive ends — Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor — have combined for eight sacks this season and will likely test the Tigers’ pieced-together offensive line.
Neither Zach Mettenberger nor the offensive line will express concern from facing two sack monsters. Instead they call it a challenge, an opportunity to show improvement, but few can deny that “challenge” comes at a very inopportune time for a struggling offense.
“The talent is there,” Mettenberger said. “The protection in practice is there. We just have to execute better in games.”
LSU could also use some help from the wide receivers.
Back in the spring, they blew up Twitter with talk of the “Fab Five,” the group that would help restore the vertical passing game. Jarvis Landry admitted that idea has been slow to develop and called it a humbling experience.
He continued to talk about developing trust between the coaches, the quarterback and the receivers. He said the wide outs would continue to work after practice to build that confidence, but when asked to give a specific answer to what will cure the offensive woes, Landry struggled to nail down one solution.
“We got to keep on pressing,” Landry said. “We got to keep on making the little plays and let the big plays happen…It’s about stressing things now.”
It’s easy to point the finger at Mettenberger for the offensive woes. Despite the criticism, Miles has remained loyal to his quarterback throughout. He was asked Monday if maybe too much had been expected of the kid whose nickname is derived from a term for a religious savior.
Miles acknowledged Mettenberger has, in part, been the victim of unfulfilled expectations, and that he has shown improvement week-to-week and will continue to do so.
According to Mettenberger, it’s only little things that have kept him grounded — things like throwing with pressure in his face and not reading through his progressions quickly enough.
Asked for a solution, his answer seemed simple enough.
“I can assure you that all of our mistakes are correctable,” he said. “We just have to take care of business.”
Everyone’s just waiting for them to start.