The Next Level: How LSU’s cornerbacks are being targeted and why they’ll need a rebound this week

November 8, 2017 GMT

More than any other LSU defensive back, teams target Greedy Williams most.

There are two statistics that make that surprising: Williams is tied for second in the league in passes defended (9) and interceptions (3).

“I mean, I guess they still see a redshirt freshman,” Williams explained. “That’s still standing out to them, and they’re just going to throw it at me every time. That’s what they do.”

This is fine, he says.

“Helps me out a lot with stats,” he smiled. “It excites me.”

Williams and LSU’s group of brazen defensive backs are ready for a rebound following a sloppy performance against receiver Calvin Ridley and Alabama in last week’s 24-10 loss. It wasn’t sloppy in the sense that there were glaring coverage busts (there was just one of those).

It was sloppy in the sense that LSU’s defensive backs struggled to cover a group of wideouts in man-to-man coverage – their bread-and-butter. It’s something that even surprised coach Ed Orgeron.

“I didn’t think their receivers would challenge us like they did,” he said. “I thought that was the difference. We could not cover their receivers man-to-man like we do.”

The Tide converted four third downs via completions of 15 yards, 24 yards, 15 yards and 21 yards. Ridley caught two of those, both against Kevin Toliver, and Williams and safety Grant Delpit were targeted on the other two.

Three more long completions helped set up Bama’s three touchdowns – 47 and 24 yarders against Toliver and a 22-yarder against Williams.

“We gave up a couple of third downs, long thirds downs. We’ve got to pick up this week and get better,” Williams said. “We’re more locked in than what we were last week. For us in the backfield, we’ve got to hold up on third and long. It’s on us to make plays when it’s time to make plays.”

Rise and shine: Why LSU-Arkansas kicks off at 11 a.m., how Tigers AD tried to fight it

Arkansas (4-5, 1-4) comes to town with a not-so-stellar passing unit and a quarterback quandary. Senior Austin Allen has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury, replaced in the lineup by 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman Cole Kelley, a Lafayette native.

Coach Bret Bielema, despite proclaiming that Allen is healthy, declined to name a starter.

Either way, LSU’s defensive backs must be better in third-down, man-to-man defense. Williams will be ready. He’s used to it. He was tied for the most targets against Auburn, had the second-most targets against Ole Miss and led the team against Alabama.

The Crimson Tide completed three passes on eight targets of Williams for 46 yards. Toliver allowed five catches on seven targets for 111 yards – admittedly, a rough day that got better in the second half.

“It’s a tough position,” Williams said. “Things are going to happen. It’s just how you bounce back. Kev is going to bounce back with a strong mind.

“It was most likely our technique as usual,” Williams said explaining the woes. “Coach (Corey) Raymond fusses at us a lot about the technique. It’s just us doing our technique and getting those things down and we won’t get beat no more.”