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For LSU to Take Next Step, Correcting Issues on the Line of Scrimmage Must Be Priority

Offensive line, defensive line struggle immensely in loss to UCLA

The offensive and defensive lines returned as the two most veteran groups on the roster. The theory was an offseason of development would see both units lead this team to more consistent play.

For the offensive line, it meant being able to keep the lack of protection breakdowns to a minimum while opening up holes for a more dynamic running game. It failed on both accounts against UCLA as the Tigers mustered just 48 yards on the ground and Max Johnson took an absolute beating behind center.

Johnson had very little time to make decisions and was constantly moved out of the pocket. By the time the second quarter rolled around, he began rushing throws, which is not all on the O-line of course, but that pocket timer in his head grew smaller and smaller as the game wore on.

"We've gotta be more diverse. We've gotta be more physical at the point of attack," Orgeron said. "Neither of those things happened as far as what I could see."

LSU lost both of its tackles in Cam Wire and Austin Deculus at some point during the night, rotating Charles Turner and freshman Garrett Dellinger in at various times throughout the game. The inconsistency of this group needs to be shored up fast or this offense could be in serious trouble come SEC play.

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On the defensive line and the front seven as a whole, the problems were two fold. One, the Bruins offensive line got the LSU D-line out of its gaps pretty regularly, something that was an issue for this group last year as well. Led by Zach Charbonnet's 117 yards on the ground, the Bruins rushed for 215 yards after a 244-yard performance against Hawaii last week.

The front four was able to put some pressure on Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson somewhat but the breakdowns at the linebacker and safety positions on those cross routes demoralized this team as the game went on.

"Crossing routes, missed assignments, those things continue to haunt us and hurt us," Orgeron said. "We have to get them fixed. I thought we did a good job in camp but obviously we've gotta look at what we're doing. Eliminate those crossing routes, those busted coverage. Also eliminate having an open gap in the run defense."

This must be particularly frustrating for Orgeron and his coaching staff, who believe that this defensive line is one of the more talented ones in the country but continue to allow big plays. 

The offensive line generated much of the negative headlines following the game but if anything the front seven's performance should at the very least rival it. The simple fact of the matter is the D-line was supposed to be the driving force of this defense and was far too inconsistent to be reliable against UCLA. 

Members of both sides of the line of scrimmage know they need to do better in order for this team to rebound from another disappointing season opening loss. The big question is how deeply rooted are this weekend's issues and how long will it take to get them fixed?