Skip to main content

What Must the LSU Football Secondary Do Against Vanderbilt to Show Improvement?

Return of Stingley, Commodore passing offense provide opportunity for unit to gain confidence

After facing one of the most prolific passing offenses in the nation, LSU will go head to head with a Vanderbilt team that does not throw the football well. The Tigers will be presented with multiple opportunities to improve their secondary and pass defense overall.

LSU may never face a circumstance like it did versus Mississippi State. Injuries, an opt out, and inexperience were tough enough to overcome. Facing Mississippi State coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense did not help matters either.

The Tigers surrendered 623 yards and five touchdowns through the air and now need to regroup. Better yet, refocus. That does not mean the Tigers are in for a long season. Quite the contrary. There’s ample reason to believe LSU’s pass defense will get going, and it starts with Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt’s Passing Offense Struggled Last Week

No reason to believe that the Commodores will suddenly unleash on LSU. While Texas A&M’s defense is talented and gave Vanderbilt issues during the first game of the season, it’s probably just as important to note that Vanderbilt’s passing offense is pedestrian.

Vanderbilt threw for a mere 150-yards against the Aggies. That’s simply bad. Real bad. LSU must take advantage. It also should be noted that Ken Seals is a true freshman at quarterback. He threw two interceptions while going 20-for-29 against the Aggies.

A very young quarterback is just what the doctor ordered for LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and Orgeron. The Tigers need an opportunity to continue to finetune coach Pelini’s defense, and Vanderbilt does not possess the skill position talent, nor experience at quarterback, to scare LSU. There’s another way to place things into perspective.

Vanderbilt only mustered 255 total yards against Texas A&M. That’s it.

Thus, despite LSU being young at cornerback, look for more press-man coverage and more blitzing. The difference this week, as compared to last, will be a scheme that will not isolate LSU’s young defensive backs nearly as much. Mississippi State was the perfect storm.

The storm has passed. Look for the LSU defense to shore up the cornerback position, and that starts with the return of it’s star.

Derek Stingley Back in the Lineup

With Stingley back in the lineup, the Commodores will need to prepare their game plan around where Stingley lines up. Is he blitzing? Is he playing bump-and-run coverage? Is he playing off-man coverage? All these questions, during each play, are a huge advantage for LSU. He was missed last week.

Read More

It’s impossible to accurately place a value of what Derek Stingley does for the LSU defense. His athleticism and playmaking ability aside, Stingley provides Pelini the opportunity to roll coverage towards the younger defensive backs, as well as use a variety of blitz packages.

With Stingley in the secondary, it will also allow more time for the LSU defensive line to rush the passer. It’s possible that LSU simply does not need to blitz with Stingley playing once again. As for the younger defensive backs, they will be in an advantageous situation.

Young Defensive Backs Will Gain from Experience

Yes, multiple LSU cornerbacks got torched last week. It’s part of playing cornerback in the SEC. There were also some very good plays by the young cornerbacks. LSU did record two interceptions.

There will be moments and games that expose even the slightest misstep or improper coverage technique. Mississippi State proved those points time and again. Now LSU’s defensive backs must learn and learn quickly, especially at cornerback.

That’s why Elias Ricks, Jay Ward, Cordale Flott and every other LSU cornerback needs to move forward. Mississippi State is done and overwith. Vanderbilt is straight ahead. Eyes on the prize. They will also be receiving help with Stingley in the lineup, as noted above, and Vanderbilt simply does not possess the speed to consistently beat the Tigers over the top.

That’s why LSU fans should be excited to watch the cornerbacks not named Stingley this week. They are going to receive the lion’s share of attention and they will be motivated for redemption.

Ali Gaye and the LSU Defensive Line

There’s one defensive player that exploded last week, and that’s Ali Gaye. While he recorded but one sack, Gaye constantly harassed Mississippi State signal caller KJ Costello. Gaye was outstanding. With the aforementioned Stingley back in the purple and gold, Gaye will be even more impactful against the Commodores.

Better coverage means all the LSU pass rushers will receive just a split second longer to rush the quarterback, Gaye included. The junior college transfer will draw quite a bit of attention from Vanderbilt, but he has help.

It’s a challenge for the other LSU defensive linemen. Which player(s) will step up and record sacks? Will it be Andre Anthony or Travez Moore? Perhaps one or more of the younger defensive ends turn it up a notch like freshmen BJ Ojulari and Phillip Webb.

Bottom line, LSU’s defensive line has a golden opportunity against Vanderbilt. It’s time to right the ship and dominate against Vanderbilt.