LSU Football Players Talk Significant Adjustments Made Over Bye Week

LSU's Cox says simplified defense, bye week has helped players immensely
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Zach Von Rosenberg didn’t want to make excuses on Tuesday afternoon. The focus this week and last hasn't been about what other teams are doing to have success against the purple and gold but rather what they can do better.

Because Von Rosenberg agrees with what his head coach Ed Orgeron said Monday.

"We've beaten ourselves," Von Rosneberg said. "I think that's gonna roll into the game on Saturday and how we kind of changed preparation slightly to worry about the things we can do better. We need to improve our play on both sides of the ball and I think we're doing that."

Von Rosenberg is a seasoned vet by now, this being his fifth year in the program. He's been a part of a lot of teams but has never been on one quite like this one. In past seasons, most recently last year, LSU always used the "underdog mentality" approach that included veteran leadership up and down the roster.

This season, not only are the defending champs being hunted but also have one of the younger rosters in the SEC. Last year, there wasn't a time when Von Rosenberg was walking in the team facility where he didn't pass Patrick Queen or Clyde Edwards-Helaire on an iPad studying for that week's opponent. 

"Guys are still figuring out how to prepare for games, how to watch film correctly, how to interpret defenses and offenses correctly and so we've got some growing pains," Von Rosenberg said. "They [Queen and CEH] were always watching film and it reflected in their gameplay and they still make mistakes but they knew they were gonna ace their test on Saturday because of the preparation they put in."

So that's what the Tigers have spent the last two weeks trying to figure out. How can they prepare for an opponent while making the requisite fundamental and schematic changes needed for rapid improvement?

For the defense, it meant simplifying the schemes. Linebacker Jabril Cox says there isn't as much presnap movement as there was before. Guys are sticking to their gaps and assignments and not wavering from what they're being asked to do. 

"We have a lot of guys just staying in one spot, regardless of the formation," Cox said. "We're matching numbers this week and it's a lot simpler things to not confuse our checks presnap and postsnap."

The extra week has helped some of the younger, inexperienced players hit the film room hard and Cox said there's been a tremendous amount of progress made in getting those players up to speed. 

On offense, the focus has been put on third down and goal line situations. LSU of course couldn't get the job done inside the five-yard line against Missouri and that sting hasn't faded in the weeks after the game. 

Center Liam Shanahan said the Tigers have put a premium on getting the short yardage and goal line issues fixed by putting a few new plays. At the end of the day, Shanahan says it's going to come down to the offense being able to execute.

"We've gotta get more push but I think some of the new stuff that we put in is going to be really helpful if we're in that situation again," Shanahan said. "Repping goal line plays and short yardage is going to be useful for us moving forward."

Shanahan agrees with Von Rosenberg that this is a young team still trying to find its way. As an offensive lineman who's been around the college game for four years, he's fallen into a routine. 

It's now his goal to help some of the younger players find their own routines and has started having meetings with all of the quarterbacks to make sure everyone is on the same page.

"A lot of the guys on this team, they're coming along and we're gonna try to put more emphasis on that going forward," Shanahan said. "It's really important for guys to be on your iPad, watching film and making sure we have an advantage mentally going into the game."