As the Tigers shift their focus to game week against Central Michigan, there’s hope in this LSU locker room. Coach Ed Orgeron spoke on areas of focus heading into practice this week, injury updates and what’s next for this offensive unit.
"We still have a ways to go in protection, we still have a ways to go in tempo and the way we approach the line,” Orgeron said.“We're going to fix that this week. Also, we need to improve on third down. It's a combination of routes and protection.”
Areas of Focus
The scheme of this Tigers team has been all over the place the last two weeks with improvement hoping to be made this week in practice. For Orgeron, it all starts with the big guys up front protecting starting quarterback Max Johnson.
“I do believe we have the athletes on offense that can go,” Orgeron said. “It all starts with protection first. That's mainly where our break downs have been. Now, the wide receivers missed a couple balls, but those guys are fantastic. I do believe that we can get the ball to our playmakers better in space and let them play. Hopefully, we can make some improvement this week."
Team discipline has been a focal point for Orgeron over these last few weeks. The communication of this offensive unit has been scatter brained and this LSU staff knows what areas need to be improved on in practice this week before SEC play ramps up next week.
Instead of trying to be perfect, Orgeron knows this unit is better off using their tempo and playing to their strengths rather than overcomplicating things.
"I think it's more we're trying to look over, get the perfect play for the perfect defense,” Orgeron said. “And we had a discussion and we're better off sometimes going what we call 'warp.' Go fast and attack the defense and we're going to practice that this week."
Battling injuries since fall camp, the Tigers offensive line just hasn’t had the opportunity to get into a groove. Having to throw different protections at Max Johnson has hurt the continuity of this offensive unit, plaguing the Tigers scheme.
“I do believe the offensive line has to gel,” Orgeron said. “We have to help them out. The offense is not performing like we want to perform right now. That's obvious. I got to do a better job coaching. We've got to get some things wrinkled out, get them fixed up and I think we will do that."
To gel, Orgeron will have Chasen Hines and a few offensive linemen return to practice this week.
"I expect to get Chasen Hines back for sure,” Orgeron said. “Austin Deculus maybe, we have to see how the week goes on. Cam Wire is out for the game."
Along with the offensive linemen, the Tigers will return guys back in practice this week to form a chemistry, including freshman wide receiver Chris Hilton and safety Sage Ryan.
"Sage has been unavailable, just a little nagging injury,” Orgeronsaid. “We think that he's going to start practicing today and we're going to see how he can practice throughout the week. He may become available this week.”
The Tigers have chance to work through their reads and take it one play at a time in this week’s contest where Orgeron can polish this team’s abilities. Despite early season struggles, this LSU staff has had a few bright spots, namely freshman defensive lineman Maason Smith.
“He (Smith) had some great moves in there and we're using him on 3rd down now,” Orgeron said. “He's getting better against the run. He has a minor injury that he's still playing with, but he's got some bumps and bruises, but the guy is a monster.”
Along with strong showings from a handful of freshmen this point, Orgeron has been pleased with the special teams play. It’s hard to complain when you have a veteran kicker in Cade York who’s breaking record after record.
"I'd try at 60 (yards). It all depends on the game and how it's going,” Orgeron said. “We don't want to do nothing stupid, but if we had a nice shot at 60, I'd let him try. I think he deserves it."
With a small sample size, it isn’t quite time to panic on this Tigers team just yet. As the offense continues getting reps under their belt and a defense that has shown tremendous promise, there’s hope within this LSU locker room.