Nine seconds. Touchdown.

Fifteen seconds. Ditto.

Saturday night, LSU certainly had this quick-strike thing down pat to start each half. If the Tigers were rodeo cowboys trying to tame a bucking bronco, they would have taken the prize against Syracuse.

Putting the squeeze on the Orange for 60 minutes proved more problematic. And that’s the story of how LSU left Tiger Stadium victorious but still mighty troubled after Saturday night’s 35-26 victory.

“It wasn’t pretty,” said defensive end Rashard Lawrence, who gamely played on a gimpy ankle and wrenched the other one in the process. “Anyone could see that.”

The tale of LSU’s September is a complicated melting pot of brilliant individual plays and poor execution. Bursts of sleek scoring strikes and spells of offensive offense stuck in the Mississippi River mud. Suffocating defense and a defense that got pushed around for most of the night in last Saturday’s 37-7 loss at Mississippi State — and at times was let flailing at empty air as Syracuse pulled some new subterfuge out of its helmet.

This is a collection of talent, not a team. Individuals who are capable of soaring to superb efforts, but a group that can’t make the music sing.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron said his team’s problems were “nothing that we can’t fix,” but after that he candidly added, “I don’t know how good this team is.”