Linebacker Kwon Alexander gathered defenders together on the sideline during the first half of LSU’s loss to Auburn and barked at his teammates, at one point slamming down some unseen item.
Left tackle La’el Collins appeared to chide LSU’s quarterbacks during a win over New Mexico State, venting frustration for miscues, namely from Anthony Jennings.
These are public outbursts seen, at times, in a struggling football team. LSU (4-2, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) is off to its worst start since 2006 heading into the meeting with Florida (3-1, 2-1) on Saturday night in Gainesville, Florida.
After Monday’s practice this week, LSU players had a private outburst. Seniors gathered the team for a players-only meeting. Players didn’t reveal specifics, but a message was sent.
“Never get down, because the season’s not even close to being over,” senior center Elliott Porter said of that message. “You have to figure a way through your growing pains. The coaches have been through a situation like this before so I’m not worried at all. We’re going to be OK.”
Collins, defensive end Jermauria Rasco and running back Terrence Magee spoke at the meeting, right tackle Jerald Hawkins said.
“We took it amongst ourselves,” Hawkins said. “This is our team. Coaches can only do so much. (We’ve) just got to take it upon ourselves to all buy in and stay focused on that one goal we want.”
Said Porter: “Everybody has their part in this program. Coaches have a big part. Players have a big part. We all listen to who’s talking. We’re trying to help this group to be winners, and we will be winners.”
Freshman quarterback Brandon Harris missed high on at least five passes, fumbled and completed just 3 of 14 passes in the loss at Auburn.
The performance — specifically the misfires — were stunning to many, including Harris’ teammates.
“He’s a guy who makes those passes effortless,” receiver Travin Dural said. “Being that he wasn’t too successful on Saturday kind of shocked me. We’ve seen him make those throws last couple of weeks.”
Players are rallying behind the 18-year-old Harris.
“You know, Brandon’s a young guy who’s just going to continue to work hard,” said cornerback Tre’Davious White, who, like Harris, is from the Shreveport area. “We look forward to him being one of the leaders on offense, so he’s just got to shake back from it and come out there and play ball.”
Les Miles said it is “likely” that both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris will play at Florida on Saturday, but he’ll wait until game day to announce a starter.
The coach said the quarterbacks are splitting practice snaps with the first string “right down the middle.”
“Both quarterbacks are improved,” Miles said. “Throwing the bal well this week.
One unit that hopes to come back strong is the secondary, which allowed 268 passing yards in the Auburn loss.
It was the worst performance of the season, and it came one week after the team lost nickel back Dwayne Thomas for the year.
White said the Tigers will work more this week on their technique.
“It’s just small adjustments. We work on our technique a lot,” White said. “Coach (Corey) Raymond — that’s one thing he has been working on this week is our technique. We just have to continue just being more fundamentally sound and making better plays.”
Miles said he’s given thought to having offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the sideline during games, but decided against moving Cameron from his perch in the coaches’ booth in the press box.
“He’s trying to make some of the best calls he can make with vision of the field,” Miles said.
Junior defensive tackle Quentin Thomas has returned to practice and could play at Florida, Miles said. “We think he may be ready to play,” the coach said. ... Receiver Trey Quinn has been cleared to play after taking a hard hit at Auburn, Miles said. ... Freshman defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao has been cleared to play, but Miles is “uncertain how soon” he’ll play. Lealaimatafao has been recovering from a severe arm injury. He punched through a glass window after an argument with a teammate during the summer.