No. 13 LSU ‘humbled’ entering pivotal stretch
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU running back Nick Brossette describes the 13th-ranked Tigers as a “humbled” team heading into a highly anticipated clash with No. 2 Georgia in Death Valley this weekend.
Brossette said the onus is on senior leaders like him to ensure the team channels its newfound humility in a constructive way following a 27-19 loss at Florida in which LSU let a fourth-quarter lead slip away.
It was a learning experience,” Brossette said of LSU’s first loss this season. “A loss humbled us some. You win all those games and you start to get a big head.
“My freshman year, we were undefeated up to the Alabama game. Then, we started losing,” Brosette recalled of the 2015 season. “As one of the leaders, I need to speak to the young guys and keep them humble.”
LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC) fell eight spots in the rankings following the loss to Florida, which moved up to No. 14.
With the Gators playing in the SEC Eastern Division, the Tigers still can win the Western Division without help. However, LSU’s margin for error is virtually gone. And the upcoming schedule is a bear, so to speak. After Georgia, which has won all of its games this season by at least two TDs, comes current No. 24 Mississippi State, following by defending national champion and current No. 1 Alabama.
In 2015, LSU was 7-0 before losing to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers were then beaten the next two games by Arkansas and Ole Miss. A similar slump could occur this season if LSU doesn’t bounce back well from its disappointment in Gainesville.
“It’s time to digest this one, but not overlook it,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron, referring to the loss to Florida. “We have to forget about (loss). It will be hard. I will show the players the situations where we didn’t play as good as we should. There were a lot of technical issues.”
Two statistics told the story of LSU’s maiden loss. The Tigers committed three turnovers, compared to one for Florida. Then, the Gators registered 11 tackles-for-loss, including five sacks. LSU had two tackles-for-loss and no sacks.
“We have to quit shooting ourselves in the foot on offense,” Orgeron said. “We can’t have penalties to end drives. The turnovers were very frustrating. But, it takes 11 to protect the ball. It starts with pass protection.
“You get one or two sacks and it’s hard to score,” Orgeron continued. “The speed (Florida) hit us with on defense hurt us. We have to match that speed at practice. We must eliminate the negative play.”
Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow was responsible for all three turnovers — one lost fumble after a blind-side sack and two interceptions. The interception that safety Brad Stewart returned for touchdown increased the Gators one-point lead to eight in the final minutes. His final interception came on a desperate fourth-down pass that would not have been necessary if receiver Stephen Sullivan hadn’t dropped an on-the-money, third-down pass for first-down yardage on the previous play.
“We had our opportunities to win the game, but we didn’t capitalize,” Burrow said. “We lost the game because of that. We played decent, but not great. We have no time to sulk. The No. 2 team in the country is coming to our town. It will be a big challenge.”
Although the second half of the regular-season schedule is daunting, LSU can keep itself in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl game, or even a berth in the CFP playoffs, by starting another sustained winning streak.
“I knew the schedule before I decided to come to LSU,” said Burrow, a graduate transfer from Ohio State, who used the term “gauntlet” to described the upcoming stretch of games. “Georgia and Alabama in three weeks perked me up. I said, ‘That will be fun.’ Honestly, the only reason I came here was for the big game — not to lose the big game, but to win the big game.”