LSU was embarrassed a year ago when Mississippi State came into Death Valley and hung 623 yards through the air en route to a 44-34 win over the Tigers in the 2020 season opener.
The entire program was thrown out of whack from that point on as confusion and disappointment led to a brutal following act to that national championship run. There are many players who suited up for that game probably looking for revenge but coach Ed Orgeron said that can't be the mindset heading into this game.
"I don't know about a revenge game but we have our antennas up, we know how good they are," Orgeron said. "We weren't expecting to get burned but we did. We just couldn't cover them, hopefully this year we have the answers. I don't think it was our players fault, they were confused and hopefully we fixed that."
All of the focus will be on the defense this week and what are the best possible ways this group can slow down a passing offense that has thrown for 1,083 yards and eight touchdowns in the first three games already. Getting quarterback Will Rogers rattled in the pocket could be one avenue to success but that's exactly the kind of strategy LSU tried against KJ Costello in 2020 and as Orgeron said, "got burned."
Orgeron has talked throughout the season about LSU's willingness to go more zone this season and dropping seven or eight guys might be the best way to slow down this Bulldogs passing offense.
"We have a plan, we've been looking at Mississippi State ever since we couldn't stop them last year and it was embarrassing, I was embarrassed," Orgeron said. "We have some plans to do some different things."
Those intermediate throws like the crossing routes and pick routes are what Mississippi State torched LSU with a season ago and putting more athletes in the second level will help with some of those deficiencies that even cropped up during the UCLA game. Communication can't be an issue for the linebackers and defensive backs either and this will be a game that truly puts those players to the test.
"On defense obviously the crossing routes, wheel routes, the pick routes, all of the things we saw last year, we're seeing them again this year on film," Orgeron said. "We have a great week of preparation ahead, we have to get better, we still have some missed assignments, our crossing routes have given us some problems, we still have some guys loose in coverage and those things need to be fixed because I know they're gonna find it."
LSU will also be walking into a hostile environment where those cowbells can certainly create havoc if everyone isn't on the same page. Orgeron said as part of practice the team will blare the cowbells to give both sides of the ball a feel for what's expected.
This game will likely come down to LSU's ability to get off the field on defense quickly and let the offense chew up the clock.
"We're going on the road, playing our first SEC game and do I believe we've solved most of those problems? Yes, I do beleive we have different answers, different defenses but we didn't answer the first challenge," Orgeron said. "We've gotten a little bit better but we are going to be challenged this Saturday."