BATON ROUGE, La. — After all the hubbub surrounding the firing of Les Miles, you may have forgotten that there is an actual game to be played this week.
It’s against Missouri, which makes it all the more forgettable an item on your to-do list. Those other Tigers, not to be confused with last weekend’s other Tigers, haven’t played LSU since 1978, when Mizzou was a member of the long-defunct Big 8. And most Mizzou fans are probably going to be distracted this weekend themselves with the St. Louis Cardinals in a dogfight for a National League Wild Card berth.
But here are 5 things LSU needs to do this week to win the game everyone sort of forgot existed.
1. Pass for more than 118 yards
Even 133 yards would have done the trick against Auburn.
But Les Miles and Cam Cameron are gone for a reason, and Ed Orgeron says things are going to open up for LSU, though more so in later weeks than for a game he has minimal preparation time.
But even a conservative, run-oriented offense should be capable of passing for 150 yards on a weekly basis.
2. Score a point in the fourth quarter
I suppose this isn’t really an issue if the Tigers are up 45-0 after the third quarter, but it would be nice to erase the distinction of being the only FBS team other than Bowling Green not to have scored in the fourth quarter this season. At all. A field goal would suffice at this point. Or even a pick-6 or safety. Nobody said the offense has to score in the fourth quarter. Just somebody on the football field in the final 15 minutes.
3. Get ready for the air raid
Missouri is averaging 391 yards per game through the air. (In contrast, LSU has totaled 591 passing yards all season). LSU has to do better against the pass than it did against Auburn, which averaged 9 yards per attempt and 12.3 yards per completion last week in a bit of an underrated carving by quarterback Sean White.
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, who has a league-high 14 touchdown passes, is far more capable of wreaking havoc than the above-average White.
4. Try to get to the quarterback
It won’t be easy. Though Arden Key is suddenly giving Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett a run for his money as the best pass rusher in the SEC, Mizzou’s quick-release offense has allowed just one sack this season. So, though multiple sacks are unlikely, any sort of pressure or disruption is just as important against an offense of this nature.
Mizzou is second in the league in third-down conversions at 49.2 percent, so the visiting Tigers are able to get into manageable distances on a regular basis. LSU needs to get them out of their comfort zone.
5. Score in the red zone
The LSU offense has been bad everywhere it goes on the field, but nowhere is that more painfully apparent than inside the 20.
The Tigers rank dead last in the SEC, scoring on just 69.2 percent (9 of 13) trips into the red zone. Only Auburn has a worse touchdown percentage (7 in 22 trips) than LSU’s 6 in 13 trips, and that’s courtesy of LSU’s defense forcing five field goals inside the 20 last week.
But LSU can’t take over a possession inside the 20 as it did last week, courtesy of a Davon Godchaux fumble recovery, and continue its failure to put the ball in the end zone. Heck, with nothing to lose, Orgeron might as well consider any trip inside the 10 four-down territory. You’ve got 100,000 people in the crowd; get them excited.