After getting outscored 55-49 at Ole Miss, No. 23 LSU seeks a big defensive improvement Saturday when it visits No. 21 Missouri for a Southeastern Conference showdown.
LSU (3-2, 2-1 SEC) yielded 389 passing yards and 317 rushing yards in last Saturday’s loss to the Rebels.
That prompted LSU coach Brian Kelly to hire defensive line coach Pete Jenkins ahead of this game with unbeaten Missouri (5-0, 1-0) in Columbia, Mo.
“We’ve gotta get the guys that are on our roster playing at a higher level. We have to tackle the football and we have to create a new line of scrimmage,” Kelly said. “If we do those two things, we’re gonna be better on defense, we’re gonna keep the points down and we’re gonna continue to win football games. That’s the standard.
“I think we’ve come up with some valid solutions to where we wanna use going forward. We missed a lot of tackles that gave up a lot of yards after the misses.”
LSU’s staff did the math and counted 284 offensive yards for Ole Miss after first contact on 34 missed tackles.
After opening the season with a traditional 4-3 look, LSU went to a 3-3-5 defense against the Rebels. Expect more adjustments ahead of this game.
“It’s really about getting the best players on the field playing their very best football,” Kelly said. “What is that configuration? We’ve gotta be able to maximize the potential of our defensive line and we’re in conversation with ‘Are we doing that?'”
Offensively, LSU has been paced by Jayden Daniels, who has passed for 1,710 yards and 16 touchdowns and run for 292 yards and three TDs.
Malik Nabers (40 catches, 625 yards, five touchdowns) and Brian Thomas Jr. (33-533-8) have been the primary targets for Daniels.
Wide receivers Aaron Anderson and Chris Hilton Jr. are listed as questionable for LSU for this game, as is linebacker Omar Speights.
Missouri, coming off a 38-21 victory at Vanderbilt, is averaging 32.0 points and 453.4 total yards per game. The Tigers’ 5-0 start is their best since opening 7-0 in 2013.
This might be the biggest game the school has played since that season, although coach Eli Drinkwitz tried to downplay that angle.
“This game isn’t more significant than another SEC game,” he said. “It’s good to play in front of a sold-out crowd, but the reality for this team is it’s the next opportunity in a string of 12 opportunities.”
Missouri’s Brady Cook has passed for 356, 341 and 395 yards in his past three games. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes overall with no interceptions.
“He’s playing smart, not conservative,” Drinkwitz said. “When the ball needs to go deep he’s been able to hit those deep balls. When he needs to take some check-downs, he’s done that. He just hasn’t put the ball in jeopardy very much.”
Luther Burden III (43 catches, 644 yards, five touchdowns) is Missouri’s primary receiving threat and Cody Schrader (463 yards, three touchdowns) is its leading rusher.
Missouri listed receiver Mekhi Miller and defensive lineman Darius Robinson as questionable for this game.