As it turns out, this Saturday's home clash with the Tigers from Columbia has quickly become one of the program's most interesting and crucial games in years.
Before the season began, LSU’s Oct. 1 matchup with Missouri wasn’t a game many fans circled when predicting the Tigers’ most intriguing encounters.
As it turns out, this Saturday’s home clash with the Tigers from Columbia has quickly become one of the program’s most interesting and crucial games in years.
Last weekend was a rollercoaster ride for the team.
The Tigers seemingly beat Auburn on the final play of the game, just to get the rug pulled out from under them when replay established that they didn’t get the snap off before the game clock expired.
One minute they were euphorically celebrating victory. The next, they were dropping to their knees in total despair as they looked to the scoreboard and saw the harsh reality of an 18-13 loss.
Less than 24 hours later, head coach Les Miles was fired after leading the Tigers for a shade over 11 years. Good friend and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was also given his walking papers.
The repeated offensive woes, the consistent inconsistency, the shoddy quarterback play and the far too common poor clock management turned out to be Miles’ undoing.
He was able to skate by last season after his rumored firing created such negativity and anger from the fanbase. The Tiger faithful stood by Miles, and so did his team.
LSU fed off of the unity and finished the season with impressive wins over Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
However, after the lackluster start to 2016, the fans weren’t there to save him.
Many shared in the frustrations of Athletic Director Joe Alleva as the Tigers went from being a top-five preseason team to being just 2-2 through four games. Both losses were to unranked opponents.
Through four games, LSU is only averaging 21 points per game—which ranks 110th in the country.
They rank 111th in total offense and 119th in passing offense. Only 10 teams are ranked lower in passing yards per game, and six of them are triple-option attacks.
It was already going to be tough enough for the LSU players to regroup mentally and emotionally after such a defusing loss at Auburn. Now, they must adjust on the fly to a reshuffled coaching staff.
Thankfully for the Tigers, a familiar face in defensive line coach Ed Orgeron will step in as head coach. Orgeron has an ample amount of head coaching experience.
He was the head coach at Ole Miss for three seasons.
Back in 2013, he was in a very similar situation at USC. When head coach Lane Kiffin was fired four games into the season, Orgeron took over as interim coach and led the Trojans to a 6-2 record.
With Cameron gone, tight ends coach Steve Ensminger will take over as offensive coordinator. Ensminger has held that position on four separate occasions—Texas A&M and Clemson being two of his stops. Though, he hasn’t had offensive coordinator duties since 1998.
Steve Kragthorpe—former Tiger offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach—will assist Ensminger in offensive preparations during the week.
In his introductory press conference, Orgeron said, “We’re going to flip the script. We’re going to do things different. We’re going to do things that I’ve done in the past to reenergize this team and the Tiger family. You can expect a new coaching staff, a new style of play on offense. Obviously, we don’t have a lot of time to change things, but we are going to tweak things around.”
An inspired and focused Tigers team will be needed to beat Missouri on Saturday night.
Missouri comes into the game 2-2 and fresh off of scoring 79 against Delaware State.
Quarterback Drew Lock has performed well. In four games, he has already thrown for 1,508 yards and 14 touchdowns, with just three interceptions. Though, he is only completing 59 percent of his passes.
His No. 1 target has been J’Mon Moore—who has 26 catches for 434 yards and six touchdowns. Fellow receiver Emanuel Hall is averaging nearly 19 yards per catch.
The Missouri areal attack will certainly be a challenge for a banged up LSU secondary that gave up 234 passing yards to Auburn’s Sean White.
As potent as the Missouri passing attack is, they rank just 66th in rushing offense.
The struggling LSU offense will have a prime opportunity to get going against a young Missouri defense. They rank just 75th against the pass and 47th against the run.