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LSU's Defense Taking Noteworthy Strides As 2021 Season Progresses, Still Room for Improvement

Focus for defense will be on completing plays in backfield, maintaining coverage during extended plays

Ed Orgeron has been coaching for over 40 years and he has never witnessed what Auburn quarterback Bo Nix was able to do to LSU's pressure on Saturday. 

Some of that was on Nix, who Orgeron said played a fantastic game and gave that extra effort that helped get Auburn back into the game. But most of it was on the poor angles and technique that LSU's front line couldn't keep up with to bring Nix to the ground. Of all the scrambling and close calls the Tigers' defense had on Nix, not once was it able to sack the Auburn quarterback. 

It was one of the first points Orgeron made to the media at his weekly press conference. 

"On defense obviously the containment of the quarterback, rush lanes and how to tackle a quarterback," Orgeron said. "When we're chasing the quarterback, we have to stay in coverage. We call that plaster, we gotta work on that."

This was an odd game to really grade for the defense because it did a lot of things well. Outside of being unable to tackle Nix, the secondary did its job in bringing guys down immediately and running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter were unable to cross the 100-yard mark. That was the primary goal heading into the game. 

Cornerback Cordale Flott continued to show why this is his breakout season and Damone Clark strung together a second consecutive really strong performance as well.

Where LSU ran into trouble was simply wrapping up and bringing Nix to the ground. Twice on fourth-and-two situations, Nix was able to scramble, extend and complete passes for a touchdown and another for a first down, which also led to points. 

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Orgeron said the issues up front weren't on the defensive line's ability to put pressure on Nix, but rather the angles the players were taking to make the necessary play.

"It's an issue of angles with the defensive linemen, which I help coach so I'm responsible," Orgeron said. "Headed for the upfield shoulder, a lot of times we did not do that, didn't take the proper angle but you gotta give him [Bo Nix] credit. He played lights out, I think that's the first time I've seen that as a coach."

The second part of that, which Orgeron also touched on, was continuing to stay in coverage down field when the front seven was able to apply pressure. Overall the secondary played a great game but on those plays where Nix is able to extend a play for so long, it's hard to stay in coverage for that long. 

As a result, LSU was getting winded down the stretch, leading to many more rotations and injuries throughout the course of the game. Cornerback Elias Ricks was just one notable player who missed some time but was able to return.

Orgeron and the medical staff are hopeful that most of the players who went down with injuries are only minor and will be able to return against Kentucky. 

"Some of it was and some of the guys were getting hurt," Orgeron said. "We lost a lot of guys with some minor injuries, they had to get out for a couple of snaps, some of them got back in. Hopefully they can play this week."

It's hard to pin this loss on the defense, despite a couple of the issues that did crop up as the game wore on. But this unit has still yet to play its best and the potential is still there for massive improvement to potentially be a saving grace of this team.