From start to finish, this LSU defensive unit was clicking Saturday night in Death Valley for all Tiger fans to see. In their final game before SEC play, Coach Ed Orgeron’s group showed up and looks to carry this momentum into next weekend at Mississippi State.
“I thought our defense played solid,” Orgeron said. “We were very disappointed we gave up those big plays, and we had a missed assignment. We have to fix that, and fix it fast. But for the most part, we played a very good game.”
Against a fiery rushing attack, defensive coordinator Daronte Jones’ group came through and shut down the run game to put Central Michigan in a bind all night. When the run game was ineffective, the front four got to the quarterback consistently, giving the Chippewa’s no signs of life.
“I thought our defensive line played good,” Orgeron said. “They gave us max protect and we got five sacks. I thought we would get more. But give them credit, they did a good job protecting.”
All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. set the tone early in the first quarter, forcing a fumble on a huge hit in his space, giving this defense life immediately. Andre Anthony scooped it up for a touchdown and from then on, this defense couldn’t slow down.
"That just set the tone for the whole game,” defensive end BJ Ojulari said. “Set the tone of the defense and set our intensity. The whole game we just focused on hitting the running back and trying to make him quit."
Jones saw what his unit was capable Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, showing what’s to come in SEC play. With BJ Ojulari coming out of his shell, this defense has the chance to be special.
"That was the LSU defense you saw tonight,” Ojulari said. “I believe this is one of the games we needed to build our confidence and find our identity."
For Jones’ defense to find their identity and get things clicking was the focal point this week, as the mental errors in the first two weeks would stand no chance against the forces in SEC play.
“We saw improvement,” Orgeron said. “I told our team, this wasn’t about Central Michigan. This was about us and our identity and who we are we going to be. And what are the things we do well as a football team? You saw some if it tonight. It’s a beginning. I thought we were in sync, especially in the first and second quarter. I liked the shots.”
Heading into next Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Tiger fans know this defensive unit has the chance to compete in the brutal SEC. With momentum in their favor, this team has a chance to silence all their critics and make a run for the rest of the season.