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LSU quarterback Danny Etling (16) is nearly bent in half on the tackle by Mississippi State defensive back J.T. Gray (12) and Mississippi State linebacker Dez Harris (11) in the first half, Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville, Ms.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

Toby Weathersby called it a learning experience.

Will Clapp characterized it as a beatdown.

Garrett Brumfield said it was frustrating.

This week, LSU offensive linemen used many different words to describe their performance in Saturday’s 37-7 loss at Mississippi State.

None of them was good.

LSU struggled to slow down the Bulldogs’ pass rush. That certainly contributed to the loss — which, as you might have heard, was the Tigers' worst to Mississippi State in school history.

By the end of the night, Mississippi State had six quarterback hurries and four tackles for loss. Thirteen of LSU's 29 runs went for 3 or fewer yards, including two late sacks that essentially ended any chance of a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback.

From early in preseason camp, LSU was aware its pass-blocking could be an issue, given the offensive line's lack of depth and experience — but through the first two games, the Tigers remained largely untested.

For coach Ed Orgeron, the first Southeastern Conference game of the season amounted to the realization of his worst fears.

“My whole concern all week was whether or not we could block,” Orgeron said Saturday. “Obviously, we didn’t block.”

Immediately after the game, Orgeron said LSU “did not handle their blitzes, and we did not handle their front line.”

But given a day or two to watch and digest the video, Orgeron said Monday the offensive line didn’t do as poorly as he originally thought.

The two biggest concerns voiced by the players this week were penalties — with eight flags in three games, the offensive line is the most-penalized unit on the team — and communication.

The first issue requires more discipline, something players repeatedly said they'll in a hurry.

The second issue — communication — is a little trickier.

Communication and experience tend to go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, LSU doesn’t have much experience across the line.

Before this season, LSU’s starting offensive line had a combined 38 career starts, 22 of which belonged to Clapp.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, Clapp got the highest grade of any center in the SEC this week. However, Clapp’s main blocking assignment, Mississippi State nose tackle Jefferey Simmons, was named the official SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after recording seven tackles, 1½ sacks and two quarterback hurries against the Tigers.

But even Clapp is brand-new to the center position he now plays this season. It is the hub for communication along the line.

“Obviously, the offensive line — we didn’t play like we wanted to,” Clapp said. “We just kept shooting each other and shooting ourselves in the foot. That’s the biggest thing. We’d block the whole play right, and then one person would get through and ruin the whole play. There’s small things we have to correct.”

The cowbells didn't help, players said. As it turned out, Mississippi State fans and their clanging cowbells did indeed add to the confusion.

“In a game like that, it’s really loud and people’s emotions will be going,” Malone said. “(Offensive linemen) hear the call and not relay it. That’s one of the big issues we had. It was extremely loud on the field. Got to do better at communication.”

Etling refrained from any criticism of his blockers after the game.

Etling struggled as much as any player with the defensive pressure. On eight of his first 22 dropbacks, a defender was in his face.

Of those eight pressures, Etling threw six incomplete passes and slipped a near sack to scramble for an 11-yard gain.

The lone completion was a three-yard gain to running back Derrius Guice that would have been another sack if Etling hadn’t chest passed the ball at the last second.

“It is a little different,” Etling said. “You try to ignore (the pressure) as much as you can. It’s part of the game. You understand you’ve got to move around, and the pocket is going to be in a different spot every single time. There’s definitely some things I can clean up in my footwork, and I’m sure the O-line will look at what they can clean up as well.”

Follow Mike Gegenheimer on Twitter, @Mike_Gegs.