For Lewis Neal, there’s a one-word explanation for his three-sack, 10-tackle performance Saturday against Florida and quarterback Treon Harris: patience.
“I know what type of quarterback I’m playing against. I’m not going to run and rush crazy. You rush crazy, he’s gone for 50 yards,” Neal said of the dual-threat Harris. “I waited for him to make his move and reel him in. Once he made his move, I go get him.”
Neal must take a different approach Saturday when No. 5 LSU (6-0) hosts Western Kentucky (6-1) and quarterbackBrandon Doughty. Doughty, a pocket passer projected as a third- or fourth-round NFL draft pick, is second nationally in passing yards (2,709), third in touchdowns (24) and first in completion percentage (74.1).
Defensive tackle Davon Godchauxcalls him an NFL-ready talent. He’s in an offense based around short, precision passes. That means defensive linemen must get their hands and arms up for deflections.
You don’t have to tell that to Neal, the chiseled 260-pound junior who scouts opposing QBs as much as anyone.
“He’s going to quick throw. Things I watch on film, I count seconds of how long he holds that ball. Those are critical things,” Neal said. “You’ve got to know how many seconds you’ve got to get to the quarterback. I count at the snap of the ball. I count. I do that a lot.
“I see how the tackles are set and how they kick and their steps and their hips. All of that stuff.”
These are his secrets, the things that have helped Neal become the Tigers’ leading pass rusher.
Neal’s three sacks in the35-28 win over the Gators were the most in a game since Melvin Oliver in 2005. He’s just three from hitting the 10-sack mark — something no LSU player has done since Gabe Northern’s 11 sacks in 1994.
Against Florida, Godchaux said Neal rolled up 58 points in defensive line coach Ed Orgeron’spoint system, increasing his lead over all other linemen and shattering the team’s single-game points high of 33 set by Godchaux. After Saturday’s game, Neal checked his cell phone in the Tigers locker room.
“It blew up,” he said joking.
“He stayed humble on a lot of plays,” Godchaux said of Neal in the game against Florida. “He played good discipline defense. That’s where he got most of his sacks from.”
He’ll have a different challenge this week against Doughty, a 6-foot-3, 220 pounder.
“He stands in the pocket. He’s an NFL-type quarterback,” Neal said. “We’ve got to go for his throwing arm. Instead of tackling him, we go for the tackle and the throwing arm. Once you do that, you affect him because a pocket quarterback, they don’t want to mess up their throwing arm.”
Gordon to undergo surgery
Dillon Gordon will have surgery on his injured Achilles tendon, and his recovery will take a year, Miles said Wednesday.
“I don’t know that he’s had it yet,” he said. “I think they’re waiting for the swelling to go down. It’s not just an easy surgery. It’s going to take some work.”
Miles said Monday that the senior tight end, who is a critical piece of LSU’s run-heavy offense, will likely miss the rest of the season. The coach is still unsure if Gordon will be granted a medical redshirt.
“I think a guy like that deserves another year, but that’s not for me to say,” Miles said.
Gordon aggravated his injury while making his first catch of the season against Florida. His original injury came in a 45-21 win against Auburn on Sept. 19 and caused him to miss the three subsequent games. Miles said during his radio show Wednesday that Gordon’s injury is “one that will take a full, solid year to rehabilitate.”
Miles said Wednesday he has “not followed up” with the Southeastern Conference office about clips he sent in from LSU’s 35-28 win against Florida last Saturday.
“I think that’s kind of their inner department workings,” Miles said during the SEC coaches teleconference. “I’m not at liberty to share what goes on between the SEC office and here. I’ll refrain from doing so.”
Miles was unhappy about Florida defenders shoving and piling on top of sophomore running back Leonard Fournette well after his forward progress was stopped. The coach said his chief concern was player safety, prompting him to contact league officials about several plays he considered excessive.
Though he thought officials should have charged the Gators with a few personal fouls, Miles stood by the job SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw has done.
“We have open dialogue,” Miles said. “Basically what happens is many times they tell us how to operate, what the ruling is so that we can teach it best.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.