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Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) throws under pressure from LSU linebacker Donnie Alexander (48) in the first half, Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville, Ms.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

There was plenty the LSU defense needed to examine when the team met for the first time since an embarrassing 37-7 loss at Mississippi State this past weekend.

But before anything else, linebacker Donnie Alexander and defensive end Neil Farrell had something to say to their teammates.

As the two players ejected from Saturday’s game for targeting, thus forcing them to sit out for the first half of Saturday's game against Syracuse as required by the NCAA, Alexander and Farrell apologized to teammates for their actions.

And while the Tigers accepted their teammates’ contrition, it was a valuable opportunity to reaffirm the need to clean up play moving forward.

“We just talked as a team,” said team captain and defensive end Christian LaCouture. “The guys understand this is something that has to stop and it’s costing us big plays. They understand that. Donnie has played a lot of ball and Neil, it was his first time playing in the game. He’s a freshman. I don't think he really meant to. He tripped over someone.

“But they understand everybody makes mistakes. It was a critical point in the game, but they’re going to bounce back. We know they didn’t mean to.”

Alexander’s suspension is some what ironic, considering the timing.

The linebacker’s first collegiate start was against Syracuse two years ago when senior Deion Jones was suspended for the first half of the matchup due to a targeting call against Auburn the week before.

Alexander recorded one tackle against the Orange.

Coach Ed Orgeron said either Tyler Taylor or Jacob Phillips will start in place of Alexander.

“He apologized to the defense for letting them down,” said fellow linebacker Devin White. “He said he’s just got to be better. I would say that’s a more pro way to go about it. It’s over with. There’s nothing you can do about it. But you can come back stronger because you’re getting another opportunity.”

Follow Mike Gegenheimer on Twitter, @Mike_Gegs.