LSU coach Les Miles may preach the “24-hour rule” following each game, but LSU’s gut-wrenching loss to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday probably lingered a little longer than most.
The Tigers were still discussing the defeat Wednesday, but continued to stress the importance of putting the game behind them and moving forward. Miles said the players have taken that attitude to practice this week and feels the hangover effect may have finally passed.
He repeatedly used the word “improving” to describe his team this week, referring to the Tigers’ mental and physical conditions.
“There’s probably a lot to that word,” Miles said. “That means these guys are going to these meeting rooms, listening, taking the information from the meeting to the practice field and really working hard at it. That is our culture. It’s really what we do. That being said, it’s the players’ culture. It’s not just the coaches assisting. It’s what they’re doing.”
Miles also complimented the energy and tempo of practice this week.
After LSU’s first loss of the season, at No. 10 Florida, the team bounced back strongly to take down No. 3 South Carolina in Tiger Stadium a week later.
The Tigers have a somewhat similar challenge this time against a Mississippi State team that sits No. 21 in the BCS standings and No. 22 in the AP poll. Senior wide receiver Russell Shepard said the team isn’t dwelling on the loss and has used the experience from the first loss, as well as the mistakes from last week’s defeat, to prepare for the Bulldogs.
“You get over it and you learn from it,” Shepard said. “We get in the film room and we learn from the game and the things that we do right and the things that we can build off of going into this game. We’re playing a good team. We can’t afford to look back in the past and let that affect us this upcoming week.”
Junior safety Eric Reid was barely able to walk off the field when he went to the locker room just before halftime of Saturday’s loss to Alabama, sending a wave of panic through Tiger Stadium.
Reid cited his recurring sternum injury as the source of the pain, but downplayed the significance of the injury.
“It was the same little nagging injury,” Reid said. “I just went inside and settled down and (got) my strength back before they let me back out.”
He did return in the third quarter, greeted with thunderous applause and loud chants from the student section.
Reid said he planned to take it easy in practice this week and said he’d be ready to play Saturday.
“I’ve got to keep getting treatment and just take some time off and not have too much contact in practice,” Reid said. “I’ll be all right.”
After finding the right combination, LSU’s offensive line looks better now than it has all year, but it’s still a work in progress.
Three underclassmen, including two freshmen, have worked their way into a starting role alongside two seniors, giving the Tigers a steady balance of youth and veteran experience and presenting plenty of teaching and learning opportunities for the two sides.
Miles said the elder linemen, left tackle Josh Dworaczyk — who spent all of last season coaching from the sidelines with an injury — and center P.J. Lonergan have embraced the role of teachers on the O-line.
“It’s encouraged,” Miles said. “The information that the coach gives you is academic in nature. It’s certainly technical, but it’s translated very comfortably. ... It’s accepted without premise and without the screening by the young player. We encourage that, and we’ve done that since I’ve been here. It’s excellent.”
Louis back at LB
Freshman linebacker Lamar Louis earned his second start Saturday against the Tide, but split many of the reps with junior Luke Muncie, who had been limited all season because of a lingering stomach illness.
Louis and Muncie worked with the first-team defense this week, but Miles said he expects Louis to get the nod Saturday.
“I would not anticipate that Luke would start and play a lot of football,” Miles said. “I would anticipate that (Louis) will.”
Muncie has played in eight games this season, recording 10 total tackles. Louis, who did not play in LSU’s first two games, has tallied nine tackles in the past seven outings.
LSU has recorded at least one sack in the past six games, recording multiple sacks in five of those contests. The Tigers rank No. 4 in the conference with 2.67 sacks per game and have nine different players with sacks to their name.
They’ll put that streak on the line Saturday against Mississippi State, which has given up the second-fewest sacks in the Southeastern Conference, with eight.
Only Tennessee has allowed fewer sacks (four) than the Bulldogs this year.