It’s a rare occurrence for LSU to be playing a game the week after a loss.
In fact, the last time the Tigers had to turn around this quickly from a defeat was in November of 2009, when they lost to Ole Miss, 25-23, in Oxford, Miss., before facing Arkansas at home the following Saturday. They would go on to beat Arkansas 33-30 in overtime.
LSU suffered just one loss last season, in the BCS National Championship Game, and had the entire off-season to dwell on, and recover from it.
During the 2010 campaign, the Tigers lost twice, at Auburn and at Arkansas. The Arkansas game was the regular season finale, and since Auburn won the SEC West, it would be their last game for a month before playing Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. The loss to Auburn came the week before LSU’s bye week.
Though much of the current roster is yet to play a game the week following a loss, defensive end Sam Montgomery feels like the loss may end up being a positive for the Tigers, in the long run.
“Sometimes it’s good to get a whooping and be humbled again so you can come back again hungry,” Montgomery said. “So you know what it feels like to be the underdog and what it feels like to have to work hard.”
While there is plenty to be concerned about with this week’s game, Les Miles’ track record following a loss is not one of them.
Miles is a combined 16-1 following a loss in his career at LSU. The only time he’s lost back-to-back games was in 2008 when the Tigers fell to Ole Miss and Arkansas in consecutive weeks.
ON THE CUSP?
There’s no denying the struggles of the offense during the Florida game.
With the competition ahead on the slate, 200 yards of total offense won’t cut it.
The offense needs to make wholesale improvements and they need to do it soon. But through all the frustration of last Saturday’s game, the unit’s leader, quarterback Zach Mettenberger, thinks they are just baby steps away from being explosive.
“We’re so close to being a good offense,” Mettenberger said. “If you would watch film with one of the coaches or myself, we can point out things that we’re just one guy away or a step away or a second away. We just have to iron out the little things and we’ll be fine.”
His confidence may be high on the unit’s potential, but Mettenberger knows there is still room for growth in the offensive scheme as well as carrying out the play that’s called.
“Maybe [we need to change] a little bit of both. We definitely have to execute better, there’s no question about that. All we can do is go out there and execute the play that is called. That’s our job and that’s our responsibility so we just have to focus better on executing.”
One thing Mettenberger has preached to the offense, though, is to keep a level head at all times.
“Mentally, it’s about keeping that fighter pilot mentality. Not getting too high, not getting too low in a game,”Mettenberger said. “That is really how our whole offense and whole team has to handle it. We’ve got to have the same mentality throughout the game and we can’t change and be moody during the game. That’s the biggest thing that’s been hard for me to deal with, not only for myself but for the team.”
HOMECOMING OF SORTS
This game is one Sam Montgomery has been waiting four years for.
The fourth-year junior from Greenwood, S.C., has never faced his home state as an LSU Tiger. He has also only played with, and never against, many of the Gamecock players.
“I’m from South Carolina, so it’s a big thing for them coming to play me,” Montgomery said. “I grew up with them and I know who all of them are. I love them to death. So this is going to be just like playing against family. And that’s why I think this is going to be the best game I’ve ever played because there’s so much affection on the field.”
Montgomery, who has 20 tackles and two sacks on the season, will be counted on heavily to help stop South Carolina’s offense, led by a power rushing attack from running back Marcus Lattimore and a multi-faceted assault from quarterback Connor Shaw.
“Lattimore needs to be respected,” Montgomery said.” He’s very quick and makes a lot of cuts. You have to break down, move your feet a lot and be ready to move to a spot. Also, their quarterback is very mobile. So you can’t just sit and have stone feet on these guys you have to move around and get to them.”
While Montgomery is focused on making sure the Tigers don’t suffer a second consecutive defeat, he’s also been keeping in touch with some of his former comrades, turned temporary enemies.
“I gave [South Carolina defensive tackle] Kelcy Quarles a call. And I tried to call some of those guys who I grew up with and we played on the same AAU basketball team, so it’s a really close relationship and they’re really excited to come see me play too.”