Players talk about goals that will lead to win against visiting Auburn.
As far as poor performances go from the 2020 season, there weren’t many that got rougher than the purple and gold’s trip to Auburn. LSU was completely outmatched from the start and went on to lose 48-11 as Bo Nix combined for 381 yards and four touchdowns while the LSU offense couldn’t get anything going.
The program wound up turning to then freshman Max Johnson by game’s end, the first significant action Johnson saw in his career.
It was one of the worst road defeats in conference play the program had ever suffered and has become another one of those performances this version of LSU’s team hopes to make up for.
“Not just the defense, the entire team has a chip on their shoulder,” linebacker Damone Clark said. “We know what happened last year but we’re going to leave the past in the past. We know what we have to do and this is just another opponent in the way of our end goal.”
Starting with the defense, this will be a return to a more traditional scheme that we’ve seen from the purple and gold over the last few seasons. After working specifically on a 3-2-6 scheme for Mississippi State, the Bayou Bengals will be sending four and five man rushes as well as blitzes far more often against a run heavy Auburn team.
Tank Bigsby is one of the more dynamic rushers in the SEC, accumulating 404 yards and four touchdowns over his first four games of the season and will be a key point of emphasis in the LSU gameplan this weekend.
“We know they’re a run heavy team, they have a tough quarterback so the run game is something we’re gonna have to stop,” edge rusher Ali Gaye said. “It’s like everybody says first you gotta stop the run then have some fun. That’s something we’ve done a pretty good job of but it’s something we have to continue to do a good job of. This is a tough matchup, Auburn is a good team, talented players.”
Of course preparing for either Nix or former LSU quarterback TJ Finley will put a wrinkle into the gameplan as Nix is much more known for using his legs while Finley’s arm talent were put on display numerous times for the purple and gold in 2020.
As for the offense, Max Johnson and the passing game has looked much more dynamic over the last two weeks for a number of different reasons. Receivers are getting open, there’s been diversity in the playcalling and Johnson has had time to throw against a couple of average defenses. But this group will be stepping up another weight class when Auburn comes to town.
With 42 tackles for a loss in four games, the Auburn defensive front has proved to be just as volatile as the Bayou Bengals. This offensive line hasn’t been great for a number of reasons, including continuity with the starters playing nine snaps together this season. It’ll be a monumental challenge for this group to keep Johnson upright and open a few running lanes to keep this pesky Auburn defense from dominating the line of scrimmage.
“It’s a new fresh challenge for us. On film it looks like it could be the best group we’ve blocked against so far,” center Liam Shanahan said. “It’s going to be a big week for us to take the next step and rise to the challenge.”
One way to combat those protection issues up front has been for this offense to speed up the tempo throughout the course of the game, something that worked against both Central Michigan and Mississippi State. Finding that consistency in the tempo is the next step but Shanahan believes the offensive movement is starting to get where the team wants it.
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